Hooked on books: Teen tutors boost children's literacy

Danny Vesurai/Special to the Town Crier
Gialon Kasha, right, a Los Altos High junior and member of the Teen Tutors club, dives into the joy of reading with Mustafa Kadiroglu at the Los Altos main library.

A service project launched by a Los Altos High School student has grown bigger than any one student this summer, as high schoolers from across the district come together to help elementary-age students discover the joy of reading.

Los Altos High’s Teen Tutors club, founded by rising senior Javin Pombra, has brought its school-year mission to the Los Altos Library with the Read To Me initiative, founded by senior Jodie Bhattacharya, with local teens providing summer reading practice to kids from across the district, from kindergartners to second-graders.

Local teachers attend coding bootcamp

Jane Ridgeway/ Town CrieR
Elise Kuypers, front left, a STEM teacher at Oak Avenue School, and Alison Mort, a sixth-grade teacher at Springer School, power through a coding challenge at Foothill College’s Computer Science Crash Course for educators last month.

Far from the carefree poolside summer break one might imagine for teachers, local educators this month signed up in droves for Foothill College’s intensive Computer Science Crash Course. The workshop, offered at the Krause Center for Innovation, filled both the June and July sessions within days and overflowed to a waitlist.

Funded by a CS4HS award from Google Inc. supporting the teaching of computer science in high school, the four-day bootcamp bolstered teachers’ own coding skills while focusing on how to implement computer science content in the classroom.

Astro superstar explores strange new worlds: Local prof voyages to realm of science fiction


Foothill College astronomy professor Andrew Fraknoi retired June 30 after 25 years on campus, prompting tributes from students and colleagues who recognized not only his teaching at Foothill, but his role as a public intellectual in Silicon Valley and beyond.

Let's get quizzical: Homestead team goes national

Colin McNamara/Special to the Town Crier
Homestead High School’s Quizbowl team placed 15th at the National Scholastic Championship, held last month in Chicago. Pictured, from left, are team members Brandon Herren, William Scott, Alistair Gray and Wade Wong.

Competing against nearly 100 schools, Homestead High School’s Quizbowl team placed 15th at the National Scholastic Championship, held June 10 and 11 in Chicago.

Homestead’s A team comprised Los Altos residents Brandon Herren and William Scott, along with Alistair Gray and Wade Wong. Herren and Scott graduated last month; Gray and Wong are entering their senior years.

St. Francis student wins honors for Zika research

Courtesy of Mythri Ambatipudi
St, Francis High School student Mythri Ambatipudi presents her award-winning research on the Zika virus at an international competition in Los Angeles.

If the phrase “youth science fair” conjures in your mind images of baking soda volcanoes, eggs soaking in Coca-Cola and wobbly Rube Goldberg machines, it’s time to reset your expectations.

Mythri Ambatipudi, a rising senior at St. Francis High School, won a slate of awards this spring for her research on the devastating effects of the Zika virus. Ambatipudi took home the Best in Championship grand prize from the Synopsys Santa Clara County science fair, won second place at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles, placed at the California State Science Fair and was named an Amgen Bay Area BioGENEius by the California Life Sciences Institute.

Bats and books help local kids beat the heat at the library

Photos Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
A Big Brown bat chows down on a mealworm snack beneath the bright lights of a magnifying video projector.

Outside, it may have been a sweltering California afternoon, but inside a darkened room at the Los Altos main library last week, local kids gave their rapt attention to a softer, muted scene.

In serene nighttime sepia tones, a slow-motion video showed a bat curving its body balletically as it hunted a moth, quietly chittering. The packed room of parents and kids, from toddlers in laps to older elementary students, oohed and aahed at the animal’s graceful flight, and a chorus of disappointed groans filled the room when the bat’s prey escaped.

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