Mon09152014

News

Council approves directional signs for Los Altos' Woodland Plaza

Council approves directional signs for Los Altos' Woodland Plaza


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council last week approved the installation of two new directional signs on Foothill Expressway pointing motorists to the Woodland Plaza Shopping District.

The Los Altos City Council voted unanimou...

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Schools

New head of curriculum’s ideologies align with LASD

New head of curriculum’s ideologies align with LASD


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Edsel Clark, new Los Altos School District assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, above, facilitates a junior high mathematics curriculum meeting last week.

Edsel Clark, Ed.D., new assistant superintend...

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Community

Closing reception caps Foothill photo show on rural China

Closing reception caps Foothill photo show on rural China


From IncredibleTravelPhotos.com
Jacque Kae’s “Mischievous” is one of the many photographs on display at Foothill College this month.

Photographs of the land and culture of Huangshan and Zhangjiajie, China, are on exhibit through Sept. 26 at t...

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Sports

Spartans shine in opener

Spartans shine in opener


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High’s Frank Kapp snares a touchdown pass from quarterback Owen Mountford in Friday’s win.

Leading by a point at halftime, the Mountain View High football team outscored visiting Del Mar 20-0 the rest of...

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Comment

A look ahead to the Nov. 4 election: Editorial

Election season is upon us. In Los Altos, we have three major local races ahead – two seats on the Los Altos City Council, and three seats each on the Los Altos School District and Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District boards of tr...

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Special Sections

Renovation complete,  Villa Siena looks to future

Renovation complete, Villa Siena looks to future


Above and Below Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier; Left Photo Courtesy of Villa Siena
Villa Siena in Mountain View recently underwent a $35 million face-lift. The five-year project expanded their senior living community’s space and ability to serv...

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Business

Transitioning from postage to pets

Transitioning from postage to pets


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A new Pet Food Express store is scheduled to open at the Blossom Valley Shopping Center this month.

A site that previously existed to meet postal service needs will soon have an entirely different purpose – serving pe...

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Books

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights


A good story about aliens is always great fun to read – after all, it’s only by attempting to understand the human race from another perspective that we can see ourselves more objectively.

But readers who might be tempted to dismiss ye...

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People

JEANNE PACKARD

After suffering a stroke in May, Jeanne Packard died August 10, 2014 at age 83. She was born in 1931 in Berlin, Germany, the only child of Emily Channel and Frank Howe Packard of Chicago, IL. Jeanne is survived by 5 great grandchildren. She was a lon...

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Travel

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska


Sandy Powell/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident and bird photographer Sandy Powell recently visited Homer, Alaska, to photograph Sandhill cranes, below. While there, Powell also encountered moose, left.

Los Altos resident Sandy Powell, a...

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Stepping Out

'Trailer Park' opens in Los Altos

'Trailer Park' opens in Los Altos


Courtesy of Los
The cast of Los Altos Stage Company’s “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” includes, from left, Mylissa Malley as Lin, Vanessa Alvarez as Betty, and Christina Bolognini as Pickles. Altos Stage Company

Los Altos Stage Company...

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Spiritual Life

9/11 survivor Michael Hingson finds purpose

Imagine walking down 78 flights of stairs – 1,463 individual steps. You are in imminent danger as you walk, unsure whether you can make it out of the building before it collapses or explodes. Struggling for each breath, you smell the heavy sten...

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Magazine

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living


Courtesy of Spectrum Interior Design
In place of a more traditional fireplace, this modern living room features a linear-flame firebox that emits heat while offering a sculpturelike design element.

After traveling the world and visiting a host...

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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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