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News

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council continues to explore options to address parking constraints in the downtown triangle.

The Los Altos City Council last week held the first of two study sessions to discuss the potential construct...

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Schools

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A Los Altos High School student learns how to use robotic surgical equipment at the school’s Science and Technology Week event last year. Students can also attend hands-on presentations at this year’s event, w...

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Community

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display


Town Crier File Photo
Pirate Manor is once again scheduled to arrive in the front yard of Dane and Jill Glasgow’s home on Manor Way in Los Altos, just in time for Halloween.

Although not the Walking Dead, pirate skeletons have been brought to li...

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Sports

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Eric Reitmeir launches the ball over Mountain View High driver David Niehaus (2) and goalie Kenny Tang. The host Lancers won Friday’s non-league game 9-3.

There wasn’t a lot on the line Friday when ...

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Comment

Reeder, Fung for El Camino HCD: Editorial

The good news for the El Camino Healthcare District (formerly the El Camino Hospital District, for those still getting used to the new name) is that there is a contested election Nov. 4 for the district’s board of directors. Three candidates are runn...

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Special Sections

Plant-based diet offers benefits

Plant-based diet offers benefits


Photo by Ramya Krishna
Los Altos resident Nandini Krishna prepares a meat-free dish According to author Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., M.D., a plant-based diet can help prevent cancer.

Shirley Okita of Los Altos has found that adhering to a mostly plant...

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Business

New shop offers haute couture for girls

New shop offers haute couture for girls


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Girls @ Los Altos at 239 State St. offers clothing lines such as Nellystella as well as toys and other items for girls.

Cecilia Chen opened The Girls @ Los Altos as a tribute to the party dress. Whether it’s for...

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Books

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mimi Sommers, who works at a Los Altos dentist’s office, recently wrote a children’s book.

A local dental hygienist recently published a book that aims to ease parents and children during a sometimes anxious e...

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People

BARBARA DARLING MERIDETH

1946-2014

Born in Palo Alto, raised in Los Altos, retired in southern Oregon. Survived by Peter James Merideth, sons Matthew, Jacob and John Merideth, the loves of her life.

She was a housewife who took great pride in her home, her surroundings and...

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Travel

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors


Courtesy of Castello di Amorosa
Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga, above, boasts a beautiful setting for viewing fall’s colors – and sampling the vineyard’s wines.

Yes, Virginia, there is fall in California.

The colors pop out in...

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Stepping Out

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn



Los Altos Youth Theatre’s production of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” a musical based on Washington Irving’s classic story, is set to run through Nov. 2 at Bus Barn Theater. The cast comprises 27 young actors, directed by Cindy Powell. Courtesy o...

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Spiritual Life

Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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Los Altos School District boosts STEM delivery in elementary schools


Photos By Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Gardner Bullis School kindergartners use Bee-Bot robots as tools to learn the basics of programming in their school’s new Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics laboratory.

It’s not unusual to see kindergartners in Los Altos School District classrooms this year learning the basics of robot programming.

Supported by funding from the Los Altos Educational Foundation, the school district hired a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) teacher for each elementary school campus.

Content and classroom-to-classroom needs drive the program, still in its early stages. The main focus of the STEM teachers this year is to assist in physical science instruction, introduce computational-thinking activities and host Making/Tinkering lunch clubs.

“The idea now is to have a STEM teacher who is really helping in a co-teaching situation to provide cross-disciplinary lessons where students have to use design challenges to solve real-world problems using science, technology, engineering and math,” said Alyssa Gallagher, district director of strategic initiatives and community partnerships.

Kindergartners through second-graders use Bee-Bot robots and iPad applications as the basis for their computational thinking. Third- and fourth-graders use LEGO WeDo, a more advanced robotics tool, and scratch programming to advance toward 3D design in fifth grade and computer science in sixth grade.

“It is really like learning a foreign language,” Gallagher said. “Programming is essentially learning to think in logical patterns – it is teaching students how to use language and technology to create.”

The STEM teachers have expressed excitement to be a part of the program.

“It is a lot of hands-on learning,” said Grace Choi, STEM teacher at Loyola School. “It is teaching concepts through different means and materials. Parents and teachers are excited, and I feel so blessed to be on this bandwagon and enjoying the ride.”

Many students attend the weekly Making/Tinkering clubs at each campus, and it’s not uncommon to hear them telling their parents what they did during lunch as they leave school, said Amy Shelley, STEM teacher at Gardner Bullis School.

“When I see the students walking home from school, if they have been to the lab that day, they talk about what they are doing and how excited they are,” she said.

According to Shelley, the lunch sessions are the ideal place for students to attempt challenging activities without fear of failure.

“I think kids need to be able to learn how to problem solve,” she said. “To be given a challenge and sometimes fail but find a better solution because of that failure – that is what engineering is. It is less about memorization and reading (and more about) analyzing, touching, feeling, exploring and finding the answers for themselves.”

Enhancing physical sciences

The STEM teachers also contribute to the science curriculum by supplementing each classroom teacher’s physical science instruction. The goal is for classroom and STEM teachers to collaborate to add experiments beyond the previous offerings, said Karen Wilson, STEM coach for the school district.

Gallagher said the STEM enhancements meet the new Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards, recently adopted by the California Department of Education.

“We want to help students begin to make cross-curricular connections,” she said. “It is not about learning an isolated programming skill, it’s about integrating it into what they are already learning.”

One example of that is seeing younger students use their Bee-Bot robots on a map, incorporating geography in their programming lessons.

Both Wilson and Gallagher stressed that the program is a work in progress, but added that they are excited to be on the cutting edge of delivering STEM to students. They have been asked to discuss the district’s STEM program at a statewide conference.

“When they sent someone to the moon, they didn’t know how they were going to get to the moon, but they said they were going to do it anyway,” Gallagher said. “That is sort of our mantra. We don’t have all the details that our STEM program entails yet, but we know that it is important for kids to have a STEM program.”

District teachers are using Twitter this year, often touting various STEM lessons in the classroom. To view their tweets, search #lasdk8.


STEM at Gardner Bullis - By Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier

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