Last year I applied for a Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching. Much to my amazement, I was awarded a grant to study for a little over three months in Israel. On the application, I wrote a proposal for connecting students using graphic arts software to help overcome language barriers. How naïve I was. The first issue my mentor, Jay Hurvitz, pointed out was that I had hardly proposed a topic which could be researched. No problem, I countered. Being a mentor teacher in the United States, I was more than willing to look at how student teachers were being trained to teach with modern technological tools. In my mentoring, I had discovered that student teachers were proficient at using technology, but had little training in how to teach with technology. I told Jay I was also interested in how veteran teachers were acquiring the new skills necessary to teach with emerging technology.
I was not a researcher prior to this Fulbright Award. I teach children. I have done so successfully by most measures for nearly thirty years. Teaching is about building relationships. My students learn because of the relationship I have with them. In order to learn about the state of technology in Israeli education, I began developing a personal learning network (PLN.) I created a blog that, according to Google Analytics, has received more than 700 visits. Each visit lasted an average of 2:36. Clearly, people are reading what I have written.
Actually doing research was my problem. I was going to be in Israel for 102 days. I spent a week getting acclimated. 95 days left. Israeli universities have a semester break in February. Down to 80 days left. K-12 students have a spring (Passover) break. That left 70 days for me to complete my research. I learned a great deal while in Israel. Yet I am just now beginning to understand how little I know, and I will be teaching Catlin Gabel seventh graders in 14 days. As a wise Israeli fifth grade teacher reminds her students, “When you travel, you learn a lot about other cultures. But, you learn more about yourself.” What did I learn about the Israeli education system? What did I learn about myself?
I was eager to begin my research into the Israeli school system, but I don’t read, speak, or write Hebrew very well. I needed to talk to people who spoke English, read articles in English, etc. But Hebrew is an important part of Israeli culture. It is one of the ties that bind people. Speak Hebrew and one is seen as an Israeli or at least trying to be part of the culture. Speak English and people might be tolerant or even translate, but I was still an outsider. Fortunately, I met many people who talked to me in English, newspapers such as Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post have online English editions, and both Google and Microsoft have passable translators. Technology became my lifeline. It kept me afloat, yet did not quite allow me to swim. I could translate Hebrew into English, verify my understanding with Israeli colleagues, and e-mail people on my laptop. I had a cell phone for person-to-person conversations and interviews. I learned that Israeli educators deal with many of the same issues facing American educators. Finding similarities eased my language anxiety a bit and allowed me to focus more on some of the differences.
Education in Israel is a complex enterprise. I divided my study between higher education folks and K-12 schools. Beyond this basic divide, there also are secular schools, religious schools, ultra-religious schools, and Arab schools. Funding and political power are unequal. While much funding is federal, schools are administered by municipalities, which means wealthier neighborhoods have schools with more resources, parental involvement, etc. There are areas where the school is the only building in a village with electricity. I visited one Bedouin school, near Be’er Sheva, where a generator the size of a camping trailer was providing the school with electricity. Residents, by contrast, relied on solar power, if they had electricity at all.
Israeli schools are faced with a wide spectrum of issues. Often, technology isn't a high priority. I wanted to talk about technology and how teachers were being trained in its use and using it with kids. But I kept reading about violence in schools, poorly paid teachers, high teacher turnover, lack of qualified teachers, curricular differences between religious, ultra-religious, and secular schools, and schools refusing to teach certain students. Perhaps most importantly, education in Israel has to deal with security measures unlike any I have ever experienced as a teacher in America. Every school in Israel is not only fenced, it has an armed guard at the gate. The guard won’t actually admit anybody, but will allow visitors to contact the office. Even when I visited schools as part of a team of Israeli educators, we still had to be admitted by someone who worked at the school, not the guard. Schoolchildren on field trips are accompanied by at least two armed guards the entire time. While no one mentioned the effect of security on kids and most Israelis take security precautions in stride, it has to affect the kids and the adults. Learning about Israeli schools is, as the ogre, Shrek, says, “Like an onion. Peel it back one layer at a time.”
A good mentor tries to develop independence in his charge, and Jay was an excellent mentor. He accomplished four major tasks with me. Jay helped me become independent as a traveler. Israel has a terrific bus system, but it took a number of trips before I felt comfortable. I am now able to travel to any part of Israel to meet educators, visit schools and colleges, and return to Jerusalem safely. Jay introduced me to a few educators who are doing unbelievable work in the field of education technology. Sometimes he attended these meetings, other times I met with people on my own. I joined Israeli educator forums, which required more Google/Bing translation work, and I have been a contributor to these forums since my arrival. One of my suggestions is currently being tried out on Edureshet, a Ning group of technology-using educators. Jay also introduced me to a group of college instructors who were learning how to use technology in their courses. My skills as a technology director and technology-using teacher came in handy, as I was able to participate in class even though my Hebrew was not up to the level it needed to be to participate fully. More than once, after I made a comment, someone would remark, “Oh, so you understand Hebrew.” I didn’t and still don’t, but I understand what is on a screen and have been a presenter often enough to correctly guess what was going on. Lastly, under Jay’s guidance, I attended conferences at Mofet, a unique Israeli institution. Meeting colleagues of all stripes at these conferences was a highlight of my time in Israel, and I look forward to keeping in touch with many of the fine educators I met. While I know Jay did his best to broaden the circle of people with whom I met, and even though he knows, in one way or another, many educators active in the education technology field, my exposure to these people was inevitably influenced by his circle of friends and acquaintances.
More than anything else, I treasured the time I had to read, think, and write. I have followed a few blogs for a number of years, but my blogroll has now grown substantially. Speaking with Israeli colleagues and observing teachers in their classrooms piqued my interest in areas of technology to which I had not previously paid much attention, including ways to incorporate Facebook, Diigo, and other social networking sites, Google forms, and submitting assignments via Moodle. School visits caused me to reflect on my own teaching methods and curriculum. Reading what others wrote on the subject and commenting on posts connected me to educators not just in Israel, but the entire world. I’m not sure where I will find the time to continue all of the reading, but I suspect I will find ways to keep up, or I will join the legions of tech folks who have way too much to read. Thinking about my own teaching, how I approach learning, how I incorporate programs such as All Kinds of Minds, how I utilize the rich resources available to today’s students and teachers, and which skills I want kids to have when they leave my class are all areas I have been lucky enough to explore during my Israel Fulbright. I have shared some of these thoughts in my 33 blog posts.
Now that I am preparing to return to the US, what have I learned about the topics I wanted to explore? There are some Israeli schools engaged in global sharing projects. Perhaps Catlin Gabel will join the growing list of schools participating in global sharing when I return. Some of the software I wanted to share does not “accept” Hebrew input. I have an ongoing correspondence with three software companies encouraging them to tweak their programs to accept Hebrew characters. According to the Israelis, it should be no problem.
There is an ongoing program in Israel, the Athena Fund, whose stated goal is to address the current poor state of the education system, wherein a gap of digital understanding exists between teachers and students, teachers showing fear of computers and not using them for the purpose of teaching and communicating, and their general status in the eyes of their students is at its lowest. The Fund's main project is "a laptop for every teacher."
The Athena Fund aims to complete its work by 2012. From my limited observations, most Israeli schools have a long way to go. Israeli student teachers are not part of the Athena Fund program. This is unfortunate because, if they were, they might be ready to teach with technology when they began their own teaching careers. Instead, they become part of the program only after completion of their training. If I could make one recommendation it would be to give every teaching candidate a laptop at the beginning of their training. Teacher training is stuttering. Early adopting teachers are moving ahead, but many teachers are simply hoping, “this, too, shall pass." What few in the education community are talking about is that Israeli kids already bring cell phones to school and the phones are creating the same problems as cell phones in schools do in the US – distraction of peers through inappropriate use, ringing during school time, class distinctions between students who have “cool” phones and those who do not, etc. There are so many “turf battles” being waged in the education sector that it is difficult for all the folks involved to move in the same direction.
Cutting-edge teaching is always inspiring! I visited schools where creative teachers were involved in innovative programs. I observed students in middle schools where each family had purchased a laptop for their child to use, conduct research, create tables in a word processor and upload the document to Moodle, all in a 45-minute period. I met teachers whose students were creating audio files to go with their stories, which they then used as part of an English lesson. I brainstormed with teachers who were setting up a program to get parents more involved in their local school by having parents and children learn together about using computers. I learned more about the importance of social networking in education than I can possibly recount. This is, of course, a two-edged sword. Students enjoy social networking because they use the tools all the time, they are familiar with them, and they don’t seem like “real work.” But teachers need to help students understand the responsibilities involved in using social networking sites in classes. This includes focusing on school projects, not just updating status, checking on friends, etc. The issues surrounding “proper use” of social networking are not limited to Israeli or American schools/students. Increasingly, corporations are either filtering or intensively monitoring what employees are doing/viewing/ while connected to the corporate network.
Teaching is about making connections. I have done that during the past three months in Israel. Current technology will allow me to stay in touch with the educators and students I have met here. As a Fulbright Distinguished Teacher, I have learned new ways of looking at my teaching, improved my teaching, and I have been fortunate enough to have begun working with others to collectively improve education in both the United States and Israel. As Brian Jones stated after he and his partner had just completed the first around-the-world balloon flight, “I am an ordinary person to whom something extraordinary has happened.”
Out of more than 3,000 students who undertook a rigorous exam process, Yale emerged as one of 20 students from across the U.S. who now make up the 2010 U.S. Physics Team.
The team training camp, which is a crash course in the first two years of university physics, is an integral part of the U.S Physics Team experience. Yale will attend the training camp for his senior project. Students at the camp have the opportunity to hear about cutting edge research from some of the community’s leading physicists. At the end of the training camp, five students will be selected to travel to Croatia for international competition, where more than 400 student scholars from 90 nations will test their knowledge in physics, competing with the best in the world.
The U.S. Physics Olympiad Program was started in 1986 by AAPT to promote and demonstrate academic excellence.
Putting their own spin on the annual senior prank, the class of 2010 pulled off a stunt for the ages: a petting zoo in the middle of the quad!
The seniors started with two simple questions: How can we turn the senior prank tradition into a community-builder? How can we channel mischief toward a gift of generosity?
After several brainstorming sessions they had an epiphany: Petting Zoo! Quad!
During an Upper School assembly, a handful of seniors secretly zipped around putting down hay, erecting a tent, fencing off an area, and bringing in animals.
The hoax, funded entirely by the class of 2010, was a huge success. Weeks of planning paid off when hundreds of students and teachers passed by the surprise menagerie smiling and congratulating the seniors on their inspired idea. And the seniors thoroughly enjoyed bringing preschool, kindergarten, and first grade students to their magical on-campus surprise!
Click on any photo below to begin the slideshow of seniors and their first grade buddies at the petting zoo.
Toby Alden, Cistus Nursery
Zanny Allport, Organic Farm
Jasmine Bath, Portland Children's Museum
Erica Berry, Organic Farm
Sam Bishop, Gryphone NW
Rohan Borkar, Research/shadow surgeon
Reed Brevig, CGS Lower School Library
Ted Case, Recording Music & Concert
Koby Caster, Nike
Brynmor Chapman, Writing software at OHSU
Priyanka Chary, Berry Botanic Garden
Kalifa Clarke, Hillsboro Aviation
Margaret Clement, Saint Cupcake
Abby Conyers, Arbor School (Grades K-1)
Eli Coon, Community Cycling Center
Catie Coonan, Caldera Arts
Becky Coulterpark, Ziba Design/Catlin costume inventory
Lauren Edelson, Opolis Design
Christopher Eden, Artisan Organics farming
Kevin Ellis, Intel Parallel Processing Intern
Yale Fan, Physics fairs
Lucy Feldman, The Oregonian
Eddie Friedman, Lorence Construction
Sophie Fyfield, East Portland Surgical Center
Oliver Garnier, Book Designer and Food Stylist
Max Gideonse, 21st Avenue Bike Shop
Charlie Grant, Glass Blowing
Nauvin Ghorashian, Bonny Slope Elementary School
Duncan Hay, Upper Echelon Fitness - bikes
Molly Hayes, Working with ceramics artists
Kent Hays, Woodturning at OCAC
Sara Hensel, Basketry
Will Jackson, Pete Wilson Stoneworks
Keenan Jay, Adam Arnold (fashion)
Donald Johnson, Rexpost post-production
Joey Lubitz, Pok Pok Restaurant
Juliah Ma, Shoe Design: Tuan Le
Adam Maier, Bent Image Animation Lab
Ian Maier, Made-for-TV- Movie
Matt McCarron, Golf Club Maker
Carter McFarland, Portland Police Department
Matthew Meyers, Threat Dynamics
Irene Milsom, Grande Ronde Tribe
Luke Mones, Franks a Lot
Leslie Nelson, Girls Inc
Rahee Nerurkar, Caldera Arts
Maddy Odenborg, Max Sokol, photographer
MK Otlhogile, KBOO
Michelle Peretz, Darlene Hooley
Rose Perrone, IPhone App company
Devyn Powell, Sustainable agriculture
Jessica Ramirez, ESD in Clackamas
Emma Rickles, TAOW Modern Marketing
Luke Rodgers, Sockeye Creative Production House
Stephanie Schwartz, TBA
Samantha Selin, Teaching ESL in Taiwan
Alma Siulagi, Walker Macy
Olivia Siulagi, Forest Grove News-Times
Ben Streb, Model Trains
Kimmy Thorsell, Oregon Ironworks
Jordan Treible, E. Portland Surgery Center
Matthew Trisic, Glaucoma research
Sam Tucker, Delia Furniture and Craft
Ingrid Van Valkenburg, Portland Center Stage
Andy Vickory, Play Production at Catlin, off-campus
Maddy Weissman, OHSU Animal Neuroscience
Leah Weitz, Bienestar
Christine Weston, Campbell Group Environmental Department
Andreas Wilson, NW Film Center
Yannie Wong, International School of Beaverton
Tommy Young, Working with a House Framer
PLACE director and urban studies teacher George Zaninovich has been nominated for the Robert L. Liberty Regional Leadership Award for his significant contributions to Portland's livability. George is one of 11 citizens recognized by the Coalition for a Livable Future.
PLACE stands for Planning and Leadership Across City Environments. » Learn more about about Place
The Upper School Environmental Club raised money through a series of bake sales and by selling smoothies at Spring Festival last year. The proceeds were used to purchase a water sanitation unit for a middle school in Najaf, Iraq. Here is a thank you letter and photo.
April 24, 2010
Dear students of Catlin Gabel School & the Environmental Club,
I am excited to inform you that the students of Najaf Middle School for Boys in Najaf, Iraq, now have clean drinking water because of your generous donation! Our partner organization in Iraq, the Muslim Peacemaker Team, has overseen the installation of a water sanitation unit which provides 641 students with safe and healthy water.
Rose, would you please pass on these photos and our message of thanks to your students? I understand that some of the students that worked on this gift may have graduated. Would you please pass along our deep appreciation and gratitude for all of the work they did as well? All of their support is not only improving the health, and lives, of hundreds of children, but they have helped to make the person to person connection that makes peace possible. Thank you so much!
Reconciliation is where we begin to imagine a better world. Reconciliation means opening ourselves to another person, another culture. It means economic and social connections that improve lives and create the substance of peace. Your gift is a catalyst for reconciliation, enabling Iraqis and Americans to connect and transform our societies – and the world – into communities of peace.
Thank you for supporting the work of the Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project. Your donation makes our reconciliation work possible.
Water for Peace
The April 23 Upper School Diversity Conference for students and teachers celebrated the diversity in our community – scholastic, civic, and global. Students determine the structure and thematic focuses of the event each year.
This year's Diversity Conference began with an assembly with performances by Catlin Gabel students and teachers. The Jefferson Dancers performed after morning workshops, and the Maru-a-Pula Marimba Band followed the afternoon workshops. (The marimba performance is open to everyone.)
Students and teachers worked together to design and lead the workshops.
Critiques of Notions of Diversity / Multiculturalism
Offering critiques of the notions of diversity and the multicultural model
Homeless Youth & Education
Learning about issues affecting homeless youth
Masculinity / Re-defining the 21st Century Man
MALE PARTICIPANTS ONLY Two opinionated guests lead discussion of American masculinity
Israel and Syria (The Syrian Bride - film)
The interaction of Israeli and Syrian cultures
Living with Blindness
Hands-on experience of living with blindness
Fashion Influences Across Cultures
Who influences whom in the world of fashion?
Learn to cook Vietnamese cuisine
Un Dia Sin Mexicanos (A Day Without Mexicans - film)
Would America work without Mexicans? Watch the film…
Race, Drugs, and Prison Sentences (Snitch - film)
Film discussion on race, drugs, and prison sentences
The Genetics of Race (film)
Film discussion on the genetics of race
Dance with the Jefferson Dancers
Learn about dance with Jeff Dancers -- no experience needed
Diversity in France (The Class - film)
How is France handling culture clash? Watch the film…
Surgery on a Shoe String
Medical adventures in sub-Saharan Africa
Minstrels to Gangstas – Race and American Popular Music
How does pop music create / reinforce racial stereotypes?
Mercy Corps – Global Conflict Resolution
Mercy Corps guest leads discussion of global conflict resolution
Southern African Cultures
An exploration of Southern African Cultures
Factory Farming & Monoculture
The problems inherent to large-scale monocultural farming
Learn to cook dishes from around the globe
Access to / Progress of Technology Worldwide
Who has access to technology? Who uses what you throw out?
Child Labor & Human Trafficking
Study of human trafficking and child labor in today's world
Immigration in Context
Discussion of the contemporary immigrant experience
An exploration of Spanish-speaking cultures & cooking
Middle Eastern Cuisine
Learn to cook healthy food from the Mediterranean & Mesopotamia
The Modern Woman / Contemporary Femininity
FEMALE PARTICIPANTS ONLY What does it mean to be a woman in contemporary America?
Muslim Culture, in America and Abroad
A look at Muslim communities across the globe, perception vs. reality
The Sexes – How We See Each Other
An exploration of sex / gender relations at CGS
Contemporary Religious Practice
Panel discussion of contemporary religious identities at CGS
Use of Sexuality in the Media – Lady Gaga, Adam Lambert
SAFE-led exploration of sex / gender in the media
The Journey Towards a Multicultural Identity
Exploring biracial / multiracial identity
Political Diversity – Conservatives / Moderates at CGS?
Moderate and conservative political points of view, discussion
Bollywood and Bollywood Dance
Learn about Bollywood and Bollywood-style dance
Comparative Fairy Tales / Mythology
Learn about universal motifs in folklore from different cultures
Learn about learning styles and discover your own!
Our caravan of minivans was greeted with a beautiful rosy sunrise early Tuesday morning as we headed out of town en route to the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. Student’s handled the long hours in the car well, entertaining themselves and training their eyes to look at the tiny details that make desolate Eastern Oregon fascinating. We arrived at the Field Station, our home away from home for the next few days, and settled into the dorms before exploring the surrounding areas. Around us we could see the snowy Steen’s Mountains, high buttes and low plains, and Malheur Lake. The sun set to a chorus of coyote howls. After dinner we played several wild games of hide and seek and cops and robbers under the brilliant stars before going to bed for an early start the next morning.
We woke early the next morning (some would consider this still nighttime) to meet the naturalist who would teach us about the birds of the area. Some of us had an easier time getting up than others, but luckily nobody was left behind. The naturalist took us along a dirt road way up on a butte in hopes of finding a sage grouse lek (a gathering where males strut to impress females). Each van had a radio so our naturalist could tell everyone about the places we were seeing, and the birds we would hopefully see. After several miles he stopped us and as we peered out the window in the pale dawn light, the puffy white chests and radiating tail feathers of sage grouse appeared. We had found the lek! We listened to the clucking noises they made and watched as the birds strutted around. Our naturalist was so knowledgeable about the area and the birds and we were lucky to have him with us.
As we drove back to the Field Station we kept our eyes open for other animals. We saw some smaller birds and deer, but we were really hoping to see wild horses. We knew that of all the places we would visit, this was the only one we might have a chance to see them. As we got closer & closer to the main road our hopes of seeing the horses dropped. Suddenly, a voice over the radio announced that the first van had spotted wild horses! They were beautiful. A herd of pronghorn stood next to them, providing scale to the huge horses. The pronghorn raced off, but the horses stayed, and we got to watch them for some time as the stallion gathered his herd and studied us.
Climbing and Mountain Winterim 2010
Though our meticulously-laid plans were thrown out the window again and again, we somehow we pulled it all together and created an incredible adventure!
Our group of nine students and two leaders met on Tuesday morning at Catlin and loaded into two mini-vans for four days of climbing and road-tripping. We drove to Smith Rock State park and hiked to Student Wall, where we did a safety de-brief and set up an area to teach climbing, belaying, moving over a fixed line, and rappelling. It was the first time any of us had basked in sunshine for weeks!
That night we drove to Skull Hollow campground--we had the entire place to ourselves. We went on a stealth (and my stealth I mean "playing techno as loud as possible in a minivan") mission to gather firewood and had quite the scorcher during dinner.
On Wednesday morning we drove back to Smith and headed off to the Dancer/Jete/Combination blocks area. Students and leaders led climbs and toproped a number of excellent lines (note: Double Trouble is AMAZING!!!). We ended our day a bit early to get to the trailhead of Mt. Washington before dark.
In driving to the trailhead, we found a viewpoint of Mt. Washington that showed that the peak would be impossible to climb. Like "Mountain of Death" impossible. We decided to try to another peak. Driving back East, we called friends and family and used iPhones to find a peak in climbable conditions. Peter suggested Mt. Thielson and the students made a decision to head South. We drove to Thielson and slept in the parking lot.
On Thursday we woke early and left the trailhead at 8am for our summit bid. Snow conditions were not good for XC travel. We gained the ridge below the massif and the students led up the southern slopes until 12:30 when we stopped for lunch (much of which had been forgotten!). The weather had become ideal for spring mountaineering and we did some “snow school” training on the sunny flanks. Though the summit pyramid looked snowy and daunting, we made our way upwards.
At 3:00 we arrived at the final pitch below the summit and scouted for a safe, clean line up the SE or SW ridge. Neither offered safe climbing, so we backed in the sun below the summit pinnacle. We boot-skied, glissaded, and plunge-stepped back to tree-line, putting our heads down for the long descent back to the car.
On Thursday night we found an incredible campsite up a creek off the Umpqua and enjoyed our last night out—all of the students slept under the stars!
Friday was a final breakfast and a long drive back to Portland, dotted with stops for Ultimate Frisbee, gas at the slowest pumps imaginable, and AMAZING milkshakes.
Ultimately this trip was about getting a diverse group of students together and empowering them to create the most incredible road trip possible.
Take a look at our journey by clicking any of the pictures below and watching a slideshow. Put on some music (no techno, please) and enjoy!
Senior Kevin Ellis qualified to represent Oregon at the international fair after presenting his research at the Northwest Science Expo on April 2. Seniors Rose Perrone and Yale Fan, and junior Vighnesh Shiv, who had previously qualified for the international fair, also presented at the Northwest Science Expo.
Yale Fan won first place in physics and astronomy, the U.S. Army Scientific and Engineering Excellence Award, the Army Outstanding High School Project Award, and a scholarship to Lewis & Clark College should he choose to attend.
Kevin Ellis won the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Special Award in Computer Software Engineering and second place in computer science.
Rose Perrone won the IEEE Special Award for Best in Systems, Man, and Cybernetics Engineering; the IEEE Best in Engineering Award; and second place in electrical and mechanical engineering.
Vighnesh Shiv won the IEEE Special Award in Computer Software Engineering and an honorable mention in computer science.
Seniors Brynmor Chapman and Lucy Feldman won statewide awards at the expo. Brynmor won second place in biochemistry. Lucy won honorable mention in animal sciences.
Senior Juliah Ma, juniors Anders Perrone and Anthony Eden, and freshman Terrance Sun also presented at the Northwest Science Expo.
The Upper School Library and Pegasus are jointly celebrating National Poetry Month.
(Swans on St. Stephen's Green, Ireland. Photo by Sue)
I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,
But, in embalmèd darkness, guess each sweet
Wherewith the seasonable month endows
The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild;
White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine;
Fast fading violets cover'd up in leaves;
And mid-May's eldest child,
The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,
The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.
--excerpt from "Ode to a Nightingale" by John Keats (1795-1821)
Come see the transformation of the windows as students write their favorite poems on the glass. Pick up a volume of poetry from one of our book displays, and revel in the beauty of poetry.
Thirteen members of the Flaming Chickens robotics team traveled to Denver for spring break to take their robot for a spin before attending the world championships in Atlanta next month. The main goals were to update their robot and get more drive practice. They entered the competition with guarded expectations because NASA engineers mentor some of the competing teams who had admittedly superior robots.
The Flaming Chickens employed competitive analysis and captured data on each team at the competition. They devised an alliance of overlooked teams, dominated every other alliance, and went on to defeat the giants of the tournament. The crowd went wild.
The Flaming Chickens came home with two trophies: the Regional Champions award and the Innovations in Controls award for their tightly integrated control system that accurately controls and kicks the soccer ball.
Viola Vaughn, founder and executive director of the nonprofit 10,000 Girls (http://10000girls.org) in Kaolack, Sénégal, West Africa, will speak at Catlin Gabel on Wednesday, April 7, at 12:45 p.m. in the Middle School Commons during her tour of the United States.
Vaughn is an American with an Ed.D. from Columbia University who received a CNN “Hero” award in 2008. She is a social entrepreneur who has built 10,000 Girls from an idea to a vibrant program currently serving 2,567 girls in 10 towns and villages in rural Sénégal. She periodically tours the U.S., speaking and participating in conferences to raise awareness of her organization's success in helping West African girls succeed as students and entrepreneurs. During her time in Portland Vaughn will also speak at Portland State University.
10,000 Girls has two primary programs: after-school education and skill-building, helping girls stay in school and complete their educations; and entrepreneurship, teaching a craft or trade and business basics to older girls who have already left school and need life skills to become self-reliant. The educational component provides tutoring and resources to help girls succeed in school. Older girls, who are no longer in school, learn sewing, baking, and other marketable skills, creating products such as dolls and table linens, which they sell locally and online. The girls also grow, harvest, and produce hibiscus, which they transform into tea and hope to export to the U.S. as Certified Organic. The girls in the entrepreneurial program have decided to donate nearly 50% of their earnings to the program, making 10,000 Girls entirely self-sustainable. In Sénégal – where 54% of the citizens live below poverty and 48% are unemployed – 10,000 Girls transforms the lives of participating girls and their families.
The dynamic Viola Vaughn, a long-time resident of Sénégal, dramatically describes the challenges and joys of running 10,000 Girls and speaks with passion about her organization's mission. She can relay fascinating stories, including how she convinced banks to open accounts for young girls, a first in Sénégal; why the girls chose to bake and sell cookies to raise money (like America's Girl Scouts); and the what poignant questions the girls pose at summer Democracy Camps in Sénégal.
In Portland, Violla Vaughn hopes to connect with individuals and organizations interested in the education of girls, as well as with businesses that might want to sell 10,000 Girls' products. She will also encourage individuals intending to volunteer for 10,000 Girls in Senegal.
Senior Yale Fan has placed among the top 10 honorees at the Intel Science Talent Search in Washington, D.C.
Yale placed ninth among the top 10 winners, earning him a $20,000 award for his research that demonstrated the advantages of quantum computing in performing difficult computations.
Yale's winning research project is titled, "Adiabatic Quantum Algorithms for Boolean Satisfiability." Yale explained that quantum computers are computers that rely on principles of quantum mechanics to accomplish certain tasks exponentially more efficiently than classical computers. He exhibited new numerical and theoretical results on the power of quantum computers for certain classes of NP-complete problems, which are the hardest computational problems whose solutions are easy to verify. This work implies that quantum computers could outperform classical computers for a class of hard problems and gives new insight into the capabilities of exciting prospective technology based on theoretical physics.
Senior Kevin Ellis was also one of the 40 Intel STS finalists in Washington, D.C. As an Intel STS finalist, Kevin won a $7500 award.
Over the past 68 years, Science Talent Search finalists have gone on to win seven Nobel Prizes, two Fields Medals, three National Medals of Science and 11 MacArthur Foundation Fellowships.
Congratulations to Yale and Kevin!