Check this page for updates about SLI and student activities and achievements
Students Volunteer at 49ers Foundation's Tuesday Night Football
On Tuesday night, six 8th graders represented the 49ers STEM Leadership Institute (SLI) at the first annual Tuesday Night Football fundraiser for the 49ers Foundation, a co-founder and primary funder of SLI. Students sold raffle tickets, manned a SLI activity booth, and got to eat dinner in the Levi’s Stadium end zone with Silicon Valley executives and 49ers staff and players. They also got to interview 49ers football players on stage before the attendees. Events like this are wonderful opportunities for students to practice their presentation and communication skills and to meet successful and influential people from different backgrounds. The students and their chaperons had a great night supporting The 49ers Foundation.
Summer Session 2017: Building Computers, Touring Backstage at NASA, and Building with Ten Thousand LEGO parts!
Students participated in new and exciting activities, in addition to re-familiarizing themselves with the the lab equipment, using the design thinking cycle, and preparing for the year ahead.
With the help of NASA engineer William Van Dalsem (Deputy Director, Aeronautics Directorate), 10th graders had the opportunity to visit NASA’s Ames Research Center, where they got rare behind-the-scenes tours of the fluid mechanics lab, unitary wind tunnel, the “Space Shop” (NASA’s maker space), and the primary machine shop.
While the 10th graders got to tour NASA, 8th graders built their own computers and customized games on Minecraft with the help of Piperkits. CEO Mark Pavlyukovskyy of Piperand other upper management also spoke with students about running a startup. SLI and Piper are exploring future opportunities for students to work as Junior Developers at Piper.
For all students, Play Wellworked with teams composed of students from each grade level on an open-ended team-building project. The company brought in tens of thousands of LEGO parts and had students build something that represented their time in SLI Summer Session. In addition to the large bins of various pieces, tables were set out with specific mechanisms, like conveyor belts, motors, and pulleys, that students were required to incorporate into their final product. Students enjoyed getting to know each other and creating a very diverse array of entertaining designs.
Additionally, with the goal of learning the significance of teamwork and planning, all grade levels worked on a significant design-thinking team project, directly learning the significance of the phrase “fail early, fail often.”
The summer is an exciting time for students to begin building on their knowledge from the year before and to tackle new challenges. Here’s to the year ahead and the experiences, learning and growth it will bring!
Several scientists from NASA’s Ames Research Center visited Santa Clara High School to speak to advanced math and science students, including SLI 9th graders. More than 300 students from AP biology, physics, statistics, both levels of calculus, and computer science were invited to the conference. The day started with an introductory speech, given by William Van Dalsem (Chief of Intelligent Systems within Exploration Technology), in which he detailed the history and mission of NASA and the Ames Research Center. Students then rotated through three of eight different workshops given by NASA speakers. Topics ranged from supersonic travel and flying cars to Mars exploration and satellite engineering. Overall, the day was an amazing opportunity for students to learn real world applications of STEM and to imagine beyond the current limits of exploration and technology.
Students Participate in the Green Ninja Film Festival
We are excited to announce that two of our four SLI 7th grade teams that competed at this year’s Green Ninja Film Festival won top honors at the festival. One team won the Creative Story Award and another team won the People’s Choice Award. A total of 24 7th graders participated in the four teams that ended up as finalists. Congratulations!
“This year was the fourth Annual Green Ninja Film Festival! More than one hundred films were submitted from eight U.S. middle schools […] These films were developed as part of the Green Ninja Film Academy (GENIE) program. Eight middle schools and over six-hundred students participated in this five-week intervention designed to encourage scientific storytelling. […] A digital science portfolio accompanied the film to explain the scientific concepts and to reflect on the potential impact of the film’s climate solution.” (Green Ninja website)
SLI’s 7th graders are currently studying ecosystems, human impact on the environment, and geology – and they recently got the exciting opportunity to get their feet wet (and their hands dirty) restoring Bay Area wetlands. Under the expert guidance of Save The Bay (a Bay Area organization dedicated to restoring Bay Area ecosystems), SLI students spent the afternoon learning about the wetlands and the threat of invasive species. They learned to identify invasive plants and then removed 18 bags worth of them (including fennel, thistle, wild lettuce, and italian radish). During the trip, students saw geese and their goslings roaming the wetlands. It was a beautiful afternoon spent near Bixby Park in Palo Alto, learning first-hand about bay area plants and animals.
As a followup to the wetlands trip, a speaker from the Santa Clara Water District spoke to the SLI 7th grade science classes this week. She taught an exciting interactive lesson about plastic pollution, its dangerous impact on animals, and ways to maintain a clean watershed.
For more information about Save The Bay and their volunteering and plant restoration opportunities, visit their “Get Involved” page.
This year, SLI students from three grade levels presented projects that they specifically developed for MakerFaire – a unique celebration of the Maker Movement that blends STEM fields, art, creativity and the design process. Each grade level was given a theme to inspire their projects:
For 7th graders, the theme was “Growth Mindset In, Stress Out.” Eighth graders were given the theme “Exploration,” and the 9th graders’ theme was “Philanthropic Fabrication,” inspiring community-oriented, altruistic projects from students.
Students presented all three days of the faire, demonstrating their devices and sharing their creations with the public.
One team used a microscope to look at the formation of colorful ice crystals (created with dry ice, water, and food coloring) in a project that used science to create beautiful, colorful displays.
Another group designed a beautiful painter’s palette and cup. While the project might seem simple at first glance, the group used the ShopBot and the 3D printer (and all the corresponding software) to design, prototype and build it. The result was a high-quality, remarkable wooden palette and cup that was the envy of every artist.
The most interactive project was a meditation cube. The team created a 5-foot x 5-foot “room” with fabric walls and a carpet floor. Participants were invited in, and using an app that the students designed, they were led through different meditation exercises, with the options of music and light therapy.
Overall, 26 SLI teams presented over the course of the weekend. It was a fantastic experience for all of them, giving them the opportunity to stretch their presentation and people skills, in addition to their imaginations and their comfort with design-thinking.