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Pixar director keynotes LAHS Science and Technology Week

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Dave Fetterman, engineering manager at Facebook, above, returns to Los Altos High School this year for the fifth annual Science and Technology Week. This year’s keynote speaker is Danielle Feinberg, director of photography and lighting at Pixar Animation Studios.

As keynote speaker for the fifth annual Los Altos High School Science and Technology Week Oct. 18-20, Pixar Animation Studios’ Danielle Feinberg intends to shed light on the math and science behind animation.

Feinberg, director of photography and lighting at Pixar, is scheduled to speak 7 p.m. Oct. 20 in the school’s Eagle Theater, 201 Almond Ave. Although the free event is designed primarily for Los Altos High students, the public is invited.

An array of tech experts, including representatives from Google, NASA and Stanford University, are slated to address students during their math and science classes Monday and Oct. 20.

Last year’s keynote speaker will return by popular demand, this time during the day. Event organizer Dr. Patricia Einarson said students treated Dave Fetterman, engineering manager at Facebook, “like a rock star” during his initial appearance.

While the aim is to cycle through speakers every four years, according to Einarson, it was a strategic decision to ask Fetterman to return Oct. 20.

She said students were initially drawn to Fetterman because of the popularity of Facebook, the worldwide online social network, but his ability to connect with students made him a favorite in his own right.

Tuesday, another set of speakers is scheduled to conduct 40-minute tutorials. Students can take their pick of interactive sessions – topics range from food science to forensics – with 30-60 of their peers.

The purpose of Science and Technology Week is not only to encourage students to take more math and science classes, according to organizers, but also to show that such studies can lead to a variety of careers in other fields like music, law and the arts.

“Part of the goal is the notion that math and sciences are not just for geeks and nerds,” Einarson said.

Which explains why Los Altos High’s music and economics teachers plan to bring their students to the lectures as well.

During last year’s event, a music teacher hosted a program featuring Ge Wang, co-founder of Smule and developer of a the musical application for the iPhone.

The cross-disciplinary nature of the speeches that makes them attractive to science and music teachers alike also results in an increased appreciation for writing and the arts from students who already aim for careers in analytical disciplines, Einarson said.

“That, I think, has been one of the most exciting things about this program,” she said.

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