Tané Remington  ’06 on Bold Career Moves and Aligning Career to Purpose

If you’d asked the 9th grade version of Tané Remington where she would end up in life, a career in STEM might have seemed out of reach. She failed her first chemistry exam junior year and struggled with basic concepts, despite seeming to grasp some of the more difficult ones.

Then, teacher Eugene Mizusawa made her a deal that would change her life’s trajectory: he promised her a passing grade if she joined robotics. Fifteen years later, Tané still likes to come to campus and play with robots, this time as a volunteer advisor to the current robotics team. And she doesn’t just inspire students with her knowledge. Stories of her circuitous path, which was paved with stones she collected at Athenian, tell of how she landed some of the most fascinating—and socially important—professions in the world.

“My department tried to understand how we might deflect asteroids that were coming toward the earth,” Tané mentioned casually when asked about her former role at Lawrence Livermore Labs. She went there as a postdoc after earning a Ph.D. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from UC San Diego. “I got to run simulations relating to asteroids with a range of attributes—rock, metal, bollides, etc.” It was Tané’s first professional job.

Following a two-and-a-half year stint in planetary defense, she was offered a full-time position at Lawrence Livermore, this time working in a nuclear forensics unit with adjacency to the Stockpile Responsiveness Program, an effort that fully exercises the capabilities of the US nuclear security enterprise. But after more than three years with the lab, an opportunity that felt supremely meaningful drew her to a new path.

“It just so happens that I’m obsessed with water,” Tané explained as she talked about Maelstrom Water, a high-tech desalination company of which Tané is a co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer. “It comes from being Californian, and also being Turkish, as we had a lot of water shortages.”

Desalination refers to processes that remove the salt content from water. Reverse osmosis is the most well-known approach. But Maelstrom endeavors to use a different method: cavitation. By reaching the temperature of the sun in a matter of microseconds, it can change the properties of its targets. Though a working desalination solution is not yet ready, Maelstrom has confirmed other applications of its technology (e.g., waste water, medical waste, soil remediation, the worldwide oceanic and fresh water algae bloom) and has numerous patents pending.

Tané spent all of middle and upper school at Athenian, except for one year she spent abroad. She attributed her spirit of innovation and curiosity at least partially to her Athenian teachers. “When I was in middle school, Sven and Ted really taught me how to love learning.” Beyond traditional classroom fare, Focus Fridays and volunteer service provided opportunities for perspective.

“I think Athenian’s values had an enormous impact on the person I became. I gave up a tenured position for less money, no stability. It’s risky, but it keeps me up at night thinking about our future with water.” She also mentioned her daughter as a driving factor behind her decision to make a move. “When my daughter asks me when she’s older what I work on, I can tell her how proud I am to have taken on an issue like desalination and committed to it as part of my legacy.”

Robotics Season: A Year of Firsts at FIRST Robotics Competition

by Lori Harsch, Robotics Advisor
This blog post is adapted from an email Lori sent to the Robotics Team at the conclusion of the season. We wanted to share the Robotics’ Team successes and gratitude with the community.
The 2019 Athenian Robotics Season has come to an end and as we roll into Spring Break I want to send one final all team email to wrap up the season and to send you all my gratitude for a memorable year.  This year we had a few firsts for our team…
  • First year in the Carter Innovation Studio. We were all finally in the same building and were able to collaborate and experience each other’s work in a way we haven’t been able to do before. We were also able to share our progress in real time with other non-robotics students who had classes in CIS.
  • First opportunity to build a practice field that we could use throughout the build season. Thank you Athenian School for allowing us to use part of the new Main Hall for our field.
  • First time to demonstrate our robot to our School. It was so rewarding to show our classmates and teachers what we have worked so hard on over the 6.5 week build season.
  • First year at a new regional. We have historically competed at the Silicon Valley Regional in San Jose. This year with the new March Term, we chose to attend the inaugural Monterey Bay Regional at Seaside High. Many of us got to meet Woody Flowers who came out for the event
  • I think FIRST also had a first….our very own Diego Rodriguez played the National Anthem on Day 1 of the competition!  Watch below, the link is cued to Diego’s performance.

Watch Monterey Bay Regional from FIRSTinspires19 on www.twitch.tv

As we move into the last couple of months of school, I want all of you to know that it has been a pleasure coaching and mentoring you all this season. I know we all have grown from the time we have spent together and I am so fortunate to be able to work with the group of bright, talented, and creative young people that you all are.
I want to thank you all for all your hard work and team support at the competition. This competition was new for all of us (new town, new venue, new hotel) and I appreciate you all for representing our School with enthusiasm and integrity.  Although the competition itself had its ups and downs, the team worked together to do its best to support each other through the tough moments and celebrate with each other during the high points. This resilience comes from the strong team bond that was formed during the build season. You all worked well together and helped each other learn and grow. All of you worked hard to design, build, and control our robot this year and it is always amazing to see these robots come to life in such a short period of time.
I also want to let all of you know how proud I am of this year’s leadership team – Karen H. ’19 and Jake H. ’19. You both had a big job to do and a large team to lead. I know it wasn’t easy and you two were stretched at times but you were able to get the job done and create a strong team. Your leadership and influence have inspired those that will follow and you two are part of the legacy of leaders for Athenian Robotics. And thanks for using the microphone even when you didn’t want to. 🙂
I also want to give a shout out to the students who talked with the judges at the competition. Our team was the first runner up for the Safety Award: I have pins for all of you. Props to Sam H. ’20 and Grace T. ’20.
Our team also won the Innovation in Control Award Sponsored by Rockwell Automation. This award celebrates an innovative control system or application of control components to provide unique machine functions. Vincent P. ’19 and Donovan Z. ’20 were the primary contributors to this innovation. Here is the poem that was announced during the awards ceremony. and a description of the innovation.
Why use ONE camera when you can use TWO?
Keeping your focus, orientation is true.
Aligning a grid, for an overlay scene.
Line up your shot
score like a dream!
Utilizing two cameras, the team was able to provide the drivers with a modified driver’s assist that helps them align with the goal. Both cameras are multi-threaded and made to run asynchronously. The second camera takes in the image first and using a pose estimation algorithm named SolvePnP in OpenCV, it simulates a 3D space with a 2D image (similar to an AR marker) and gives us our robot’s position relative to our goal. The location and other data will then be superimposed onto the first camera, which is what the drivers actually get to see. 
Congratulations team! Well done!
Finally, I want to thank David Grier, Paul Ambrose, Jamey Jacobs, Tané Remington ’06, James Cahill, and Eugene Mizusawa for their generous time and talents. Our students learn so much from you all and the guidance and mentorship you have so freely given have been the backbone of our team. And thank you Doug Moffet and Gerard vanSteyn for you help supervising the students during the weekday evening sessions. I appreciate the second pair of eyes and ears!
Special thanks to Lori for her leadership and countless hours working with our students. The School is grateful for everything Lori has done to ensure the success of the Robotics Program! 

Cultivating Screen Awareness

by Mark Lukach, Ninth Grade Dean

Once I was walking through San Francisco with my family, and I walked right into a pole. I was texting-while-walking.

It really hurt.

It was also embarrassing. My wife and son laughed at me for the rest of the day about it, and I deserved it. My crash jolted me into momentary self-awareness about my phone use. My head throbbing, I was suddenly convinced that I was never going to text and walk again. I was going to keep my head up, shoulders back, and engage in the world, from here on out.

This all happened about six months ago. I couldn’t keep track of how many times I’ve reverted to old habits and broken that pledge.

More problematic for me are the Friday evenings when we all pile into the family room to watch a movie, and my four-year-old picks the same Disney movie to watch for the hundredth time, and within a few minutes, I take out my phone to read the news, and my wife takes out her phone to do whatever it is she’s doing, and there we are, all in the same room, but all engaged with different screens. “Alone together,” as Sherry Tuckle calls it.

I’m guessing I’m not the only one who has caught themselves in these behaviors. In fact, with my office in the Commons and my windows looking out at the activity of the Quad, I know for certain that I’m not the only one. I’ve seen all of us walking while texting or spending time in a group while isolating in our phones: students, faculty, parents, admin…all of us.

As Ninth Grade Dean, I spent the summer reading two books about technology use: Mindful Tech by David Levy and Alone Together by Sherry Turckle. After our visit by Catherine Steiner-Adair, I’m planning to check out The Big Disconnect as well. I also read a lot of articles about tech use—ironically, on my phone, in bed, before going to sleep, all of which I probably shouldn’t be doing—like Andrew Sullivan’s essay “I Used To Be A Human Being”.

Many of the books and articles in this genre sound the alarm of tech addiction throughout 80% of their subject matter, and it’s a dizzying Siren song to hear, but they don’t get into solutions until the last 20%, if at all. I think we all already know there’s something going on. I recently asked ninth graders if they think we have a problem with tech overuse here at Athenian, and the overwhelming majority agreed that we do.

The book I resonated with most was David Levy’s Mindful Tech. His masterful little book is pretty much entirely about solutions. Not necessarily big picture, society-wide solutions, but intensely personal solutions, for how to become more aware of our tech use, to empower us to make changes if we want them.

I especially like his emphasis on mindfulness as a lens for examining technology, because mindfulness deliberately distances itself from guilt. I don’t want my approach to tech to be about shaming. Not for myself, my family, or my students. (Although people who walk into poles while texting are sometimes caught on security cameras, and are definitely shamed!) This is instead about becoming more aware and empowered so that we can all make decisions that better our experiences and enhance our relationships.

So what’s that looked like for me?

For starters, I’ve made a lot of personal changes. I really do try and avoid texting and walking, especially on campus. If I need to text, I stop walking, and then when I finish the text, I put my phone away and keep moving. Another change has been if I’m in a group of people and I need my phone for something, I announce to them why I’m going to be using my phone (“let me check MyAthenian to see what we’re doing during today’s Morning Meeting”), and then I put it away when I’m done. I’ve also scheduled tech-free times during my day, especially in the evening during family time, so that I’m not always available via email or text.

Of course, I don’t do these things perfectly all of the time. But I’m trying, and I have to say, I’m already noticing a difference in how I engage with my phone and the people around me.

As for my job as Ninth Grade Dean, I’ve been experimenting with this in our ninth grade advisory program, and most recently on PSAT Wednesday, when the ninth grade has a half-day with an open agenda that I get to shape around current needs. I took some of Levy’s exercises and applied them to our ninth grade, not to shame them or mandate any change, but instead to help the students realize their own behaviors. Students were asked to pay attention to which app they use the most on their phones, and how frequently they check the app. In that exercise alone, without any mandates to enact changes, several students opted to restrict their use of the app.

Even cooler, on PSAT Wednesday, students brainstormed a few Town Meeting proposals to bring before the School to vote upon, such as creating tech “blackout” days during the school year, or places on campus where no technology is allowed (like designated rooms in the library, or the Main Hall during lunch). Very cool ideas. We’ll see where those ideas go.

I know that this is just the beginning, but I’m glad Athenian is getting more involved in this conversation. I am only one voice of many here who want us to be more active about addressing our tech use, and I’m excited to see where it’s going to take us. I’ve always admired this school for being at the forefront of the most advanced educational thinking practices, and I suspect that more thoughtfulness around tech is going to be a big part of that going forth.

If you’re interested in observing or changing your own practices with technology, I strongly encourage you to check out Daniel Levy’s book Mindful Tech. Just do yourself a favor and get the real book, rather than download it your phone. I don’t think we could handle the irony of reading that book on your phone while walking across campus.

Athenian Alum Creates Open Dialogue Platform at Westpoint

Originally published in The Pillar, Athenian’s student newspaper

by Priya Canzius ’16

This past fall, Athenian alum Cadet David Weinmann ’14 helped to develop a social media platform called Let’s Talk Jihad with 15 other classmates at The United States Military Academy at West Point.

“The idea was essentially to provide an unbiased forum where people could come and discuss Jihad, Islam, current events, the Islamic state, [and more],” Weinman said. “We moderated discussions and invited vetted experts to join the forum to provide their opinion.”

Athenian teacher Kal Balaven was one of the experts contacted.

“I contacted [Balaven] because I knew that he was aware of the history behind some of the origins of these radical groups; and because he is an educator and knows how to reach youth,” Weinmann said.

According to NPR, “a big part of the U.S. fight against ISIS is happening online, [and] the U.S. government is looking for ideas from all corners to try to figure out how to get better at countering the ISIS propaganda that is so central to the group’s recruiting strategy.”

Rather than using social media as a recruitment tool, Let’s Talk Jihad uses its platform to reach out to youth around the world.

“Our group also reached out to Imams and community leaders in the US as well as the UK and we are still trying to get leaders and other nations on-board,” Weinmann said. “We also worked with instructors in the Arabic and Middle Eastern history departments as well as Muslim cadets here at the academy. We sought out people we were confident would be able to provide advice to troubled youth.”

Because ISIS uses its extensive social media network to appeal to the younger generation, Let’s Talk Jihad’s goal is to redirect youth to less radical solutions.

“Most people do not know the presence that the Islamic State has online,” Weinmann said. “The internet is powerful. It is far more powerful than most of us think and the Islamic State uses it better than any other terror group… There is no single profile that people who join ISIS fit; anyone is susceptible to their propaganda.”

To combat this influence, the U.S. Department of State created the Peer to Peer: Challenging Extremism (P2P) initiative. The goal of P2P, according to its website, is for “university students from around the world [to] develop and execute campaigns and social media strategies against extremism.”

Photo taken by EdVetnture Partners

Photo taken by EdVetnture Partners

Weinmann and his fellow cadets won second prize in this competition for their Let’s Talk Jihad page.

“We knew about the [P2P] initiative being put on by the State Department (DOS) when we started,” Weinmann said. “We looked at previous campaigns and wanted to build something that was different, something that would specifically target the audience we were reaching out for, which we called fence-sitters.”

Fence-sitters, according to Weinmann, are people who are “having thoughts about joining the radical group [ISIS].”

“These fence-sitters are what ultimately fuels ISIS’ ranks and are part of what makes them such a force,” Weinmann said. “We wanted to talk to these individuals before they became radical and traveled to join ISIS.”

On the page itself, the cadets chose to remain anonymous.

“We tried not to make assertions in our social media posts,” Weinmann said. “We just asked questions, and as a result we hid our biases. We used articles, stories and pictures from a number of sources, and some of our posts were in Arabic in order to keep things ambiguous.”

Furthermore, according to Weinmann, in order to “gain legitimacy among fence-sitters… [Weinman and his classmates] were careful to try and distance the campaign from the military academy and DOS.”

“By leaving our site anonymous we were able to talk with people without having them immediately discredit anything that we said,” Weinmann said. “Teenagers in Cairo won’t take advice from the US Army! [The goal is to help] people come to an understanding that what ISIS is talking about is really a bastardized version of Islam in order to further their political goals.”

However, the cadets’ identities were publicized in many online news outlets in early February.

“We had asked the DOS keep our identities a secret, but that didn’t work out once the media got involved; we did not intend to have the project go public,” Weinmann said.

According to Weinmann, “it’s still too early to tell the effect that [the media attention] will have on the campaign. [Moreover, the cadets] still update the page, but less frequently.”

Let’s Talk Jihad has made an impact on social media.

“We knew that we were making an impact when ISIS members started telling members of their group not to come to our page or listen to what we were saying,” Weinmann said. “They also- may or may not – have tried to shut down our Twitter. We aren’t entirely sure since it was anonymous, but we believe it was them.

Although Weinmann and his fellow cadets currently maintain the Let’s Talk Jihad page, according to Weinmann, they “are looking to turn the campaign over to a group that would be able to run it full-time and provide even better support than we can.”

“With our limited time and resources, we don’t see ourselves maintaining it forever,” Weinmann said.

Balaven believes that the use of social media is important to redirect fence-sitters and supports the cadets’ mission.

“It was a pretty phenomenal thing that [David and his classmates] did,” Balaven said. “He tried to find a non-violent way of trying to use social media to try to get those that would sympathize or empathize with ISIS into a place where they can dialogue and get their frustration out outside of those venues.”

Building Rome in a Day

by Lauren Railey, Head of Middle School

Rome5This fall, as part of their study of ancient Rome with Sven Miller and Matt Zahner, students investigated the impacts of the great ancient civilization on modern history: roads, sewer systems, the calendar system, central heating, and more.  This year, students had the opportunity to physically construct for themselves many of the city structures the Romans pioneered.  

In small groups, the students researched, designed, and created either a Roman shoe, an aqueduct system, an arch, or a model Roman city.  With the help of Maker Studio expert Lori Harsch and several Upper School students, the seventh graders spent a few days in the Maker Studio learning how to use tools they had never used before to recreate various aspects of Roman life.

FullSizeRenderSven Miller, one of the planners of the day, described three anecdotes of student groups applying their knowledge and solving problems in the course of their building.  One group who was working on building a model Roman city began by researching the types of structures a Roman city would have.  They quickly found many CAD files that they could print on the 3-D printer or laser cutter.  However, they encountered the issue of scale.  Some students, eager to see their city come to life, sent CAD files to the printer and saw enormous models of a coliseum being printed next to a tiny model of a library.  Realizing the problem, they had to decide as a group what a millimeter would equal in their model world and then use their math skills to scale the CAD files to print at the correct size.

An aqueduct group was given the task of crossing a culvert up on the hill by the baseball field.  They brainstormed in the classroom before they realized that they needed to go walk up the hill and look at the culvert directly to measure it in real life.  They created an inverted trapezoid and used their geometry skills to figure out the correct angles to build an aqueduct that could cross the culvert.

Finally, one of the arch groups realized that the central problem in building the arch was determining the correct angles for each piece of the arch.  They began by measuring a model of an arch and tried to copy it.  That led them to realize they would need to use geometry to figure out the supplementary and complementary angles.  Using trial and error, they determined that they needed to have an odd number of blocks with a central keystone for pressure.  They did calculations and determined that 9 blocks yielded the most workable numbers.  They then made the cuts in the blocks in the Maker Studio using the measurements they had calculated.

All in all, the students engaged in a challenging, hands-on variety of activities that engaged their minds and bodies as they “built Rome in a day.”


Dia de Los Muertos, Rodan, Panathanaea, and Coding!

Pacific Worlds Exhibit copyby Lauren Railey, Head of School

Due to a long weekend mid-October followed by two weeks of conferences, Middle School students had not participated in a Focus Day since October 9. However, on Friday, November 6, students participated in exciting Focus Days that connected deeply to our curriculum in the Middle School.

Eighth graders enjoyed off-campus field trips based on their languages of study.  Spanish students toured the Dia de Los Muertos exhibit at the Oakland Museum. In addition, they had the opportunity to visit the Pacific Worlds collection, where they viewed artifacts and participated in hands-on activities that connected back to their sixth grade social studies unit on Polynesian Cultures.
Stanford 3 copyStanford 5 copyFrench and Chinese students traveled to Stanford to visit the Rodin exhibit and toured the French and Asian exhibits at the Cantor museum on the Stanford campus. The docent leading the French students spoke entirely in French!


Seventh graders participated Panathanaea, a culminating unit for Ancient Greece in which students broke into various city-states, dedicated altars to their patron gods or goddesses, competed in Athenian’s own version of the OlympiPanathanaea 3 copyc games, prepared Greek food, and were challenged by Plato’s ethical dilemma of the Ring of Gyges. Lastly, our thespians performed Aeschylus’ tragedy The Oresteia for friends and family. On to Rome: Carpe Diem, as they say!

Sixth graders spent part of the day learning Scratch programming (a first experience with coding for many of them) and created their own animation sequence. They also worked on pattern recognition skills and developed their own patterns to try to stump their classmates and teachers. Learning how to code helps students develop a different set of analytical reasoning skills that can be applied in both the classroom and the tech world. Students will have further opportunities for programming in various electives and future Focus Days.Scratch copy

Interim Adventures Near and Far

Before Spring Break, Athenians scatter the Bay Area and the globe to immerse themselves in 3-10 day experiential adventures. Themes explored range from U.S. history in Washington, D.C. to learning to surf in Santa Cruz, to exploring the Bay Area food scene. Students are travelling internationally to New Zealand, Kenya and Tanzania, Belize, and Costa Rica, and nationally to New Orleans, Ashland, Pinnacles National Monument, DC, and Hawaii. Look for more photos in the next week.

Women’s Self-Defense: Protecting yourself from real-life threats.

DSC08440 DSC08438

Monterey Bay: Elephant seals at Año Nuevo, tidepooling, and the Aquarium




8th Grade Trip to Washington, D.C.: Witnessing U.S. History in the nation’s capital.

Students read prepared essays on men and women of courage buried in Arlington National Cemetary

Students read prepared essays on men and women of courage buried in Arlington National Cemetery

Walking with the Arlington guards

Walking with the Arlington guards

Snow in DC! The 8th grade's first snowball fight.

Snow in DC! The 8th grade’s first snowball fight.



Maui: Searching for a Humuhumunukunukuapua’a, surfing, and soaking in the sun.

Maui, Hawaii (photo by Nadia '17)

Maui, Hawaii (photo by Nadia ’17)

New Orleans: Discovering the birthplace of jazz, Athenian’s ad hoc jazz band will perform at a local event.

New Orleans (photo by Jonothon '16)

New Orleans (photo by Jonathon ’16)

Eating and Cooking Locally: Tasting the Bay Area food scene and cooking a locally-sourced, organic meal.



Kitchen Chemistry: Making microwave muffins, liquid nitrogen ice cream, and glow-in-the-dark jello. (Plus pancakes, caramel, soft pretzels, silly putty, and several experimental creations. For example, what does a muffin without baking soda taste like? Or can you make strawberry sorbet out of just strawberries?)

Kitchen Chemistry: making caramel

Making caramel


Fun with liquid nitrogen

 Engineering and Design Outreach: 5th graders from Montair Elementary came to tool around in the Maker Studio, with the guidance of members of the Robotics team.

Teaching 5th graders how to rivet on an airplane part.

Teaching 5th graders how to rivet on an airplane part.

Using the lathe

Using the lathe

5th graders driving the robot

5th graders driving the robot

Building styrofoam gliders

Building styrofoam gliders

5th graders from Montair came to tool around in the Maker Studio, with the guidance of members of the Robotics team. Here they are driving Athenian's 2012 competition robot.

Here they are driving Athenian’s 2012 competition robot.

Industrial Arts at The Crucible: Welding, mold-making, jewelry-making, metal-smithing, and more.

DSC_0347 DSC_0358 DSC_0314 DSC_0320 DSC_0234 DSC_0350

Check out previous interim trips and activities:

Interim 2013: Mountain Biking, Puerto Rico, US China, San Francisco, Bodega Bay

Interim 2013: China, Puerto Rico, Ireland, DC, Bow-Making, Kitchen Chemistry

Interim 2013

Athenian Interim

7th Grade China Trip

Simone ’15: Taking Museum Advocacy to Capitol Hill


Simone in an astronaut suit at Chabot.

On February 24, Simone Batiste ’15 will travel to Washington, D.C. to tell Congress why museums are important. One of two nationwide selected by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), Simone will join more than 300 museum leaders from around the country for the 6th annual Museum Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill. Appointed as a Great American Museum Advocate, Simone will meet with our local California representatives and speak to a join session of Congress to make the case for federal support of America’s museums. Simone will be engaging directly in the embodiment of the Constitutional right of citizens to petition the government, sharing her first-hand experience of the powerful impact museums can have on the life of an individual.


Galaxy Explorers in Hong Kong

Simone has been a regular volunteer at Chabot Space and Science Center through their Galaxy Explorers program, doing live public science demonstrations and explaining interactive exhibits. This past summer, she participated in a science exchange with the Hong Kong Space Museum. Cross-cultural teams explored differences in Western and Chinese astronomy in both Hong Kong and at Chabot. In September, Simone delivered a speech at Chabot’s fundraising gala outlining the value and personal impact the trip had on her: 

I have been a part of [the Chabot] community since the age of 5 when I attended science camp and learned how to make ice cream from just dry ice….Little did I know that my experience at Chabot Space and Science would lead me to travel to the Hong Kong Space Museum as a member of the peer-to-peer digital sky student partnership. During this adventure, I had an opportunity to meet and interact with students from across the world who shared similar passions and interests as I….I gained so much more than just learning about the stars in our universe. I developed life-long friendships, extensive new skills with technology, and personal growth and development.

Helping Chinese students with an experiment at Chabot.

Helping Chinese students with an experiment at a school in Hong Kong.

My experience with Galaxy Explorers has been truly beneficial and applicable to my life and activities beyond the museum. For instance, the knowledge that I acquire when I show demonstrations to the public, I can use in my physics, biology, and chemistry classes….Due to my love for life sciences, I would like to extend my passion in biology, study at Stanford, and become a doctor…I applaud each of you in this room and countless others, who inspire me to start by starting, do by doing, so that I and others can see our dreams become realities.

Simone and Mayor of Oakland Jean Quan

Simone and Mayor of Oakland Jean Quan at a Chabot event.

Simone does not actually know who nominated her to be a Great Museum Advocate. AAM received a video of her speech and found her experiences to be a perfect fit for a Museum Advocate–an individual whose life was changed by their involvement with a museum. Simone’s experiences at Chabot, combined with her opportunities to further her science exploration at Athenian, have positioned Simone well to be a poised and articulate representative of the cause.

Good luck in D.C., Simone! We look forward to sharing your report of the experience upon your return.

Students Write How-To’s for Arduino Microcontrollers

An essential part of the Applied Science and Engineering Class is reflecting on the process involved in creating a project in such a way that others can reproduce the project. Honors students in the class created how-to’s using the Instructables Do-It-Yourself (DIY) project-sharing platform.  Collectively, their eleven projects have already received more than 9600 views from Instructables users since they were posted earlier this week–a sign that the students not only created compelling projects, but that their how-tos are easy to follow. One project in particular, How to Do Arduino-Controlled Time-Lapse Photography by Holden Leslie-Bole ’14, was featured by Instructables editors on the homepage. Holden was awarded a free premium membership in recognition of the success of his project.

Students spent three weeks learning how to use and create with Arduinos, single-board microcontrollers that make the use of electronics in multidisciplinary projects more accessible through an open-source electronic prototyping platform.  Projects ranged from Arduino-controlled temperature sensors to a smart heart monitor, to a dubstep piano keyboard. Students kept journals of their process, diagrammed their circuitry, wrote carefully commented code, and gave presentations of their work to conclude the project.

David Otten, course instructor, outlined the goals of the microcontroller project for the students at the outset:

The goal of this project is to learn how to use microcontrollers (hardware and software) and what sorts of applications they are useful for.  To this end, you have been asked to come up with a microcontroller application that interests you.  It must respond to the environment and so should have at least 1 input and 1 output.  Since we have a wide range of experience in the class, the complexity of your project should reflect your skill level.  The focus of this project should be on the circuit and the code (80-90% of your time), not the mechanical aspects – simplify components if you need to (e.g. “this piece of cardboard represents my Levelor blinds” or “this switch represent my toilet flusher”).

Explore their projects here:


Digital Superheroes: 6th Graders Create Citizenship Comic Strips

The sixth grade spent their first Focus Day learning about technology: from troubleshooting with the iPads to an online scavenger hunt about plagiarism to a photography activity, the students are becoming more technologically literate.

Students also learned what it means to be a good digital citizen. To demonstrate their understanding, each 6th grader created a comic strip, portraying a digital problem and a Digital Superhero who comes to save the day. Take a look at their creations.

NegativityMeetingBalance Personal informationcheatingRumors

Note: Students had less than 20 minutes to create their comic strips online using Marvel Comics’ Create Your Own Comic Strip.