Advanced learners, six state California, foreign films, virtual field trips, human rights, Be A Man, College App Map


Lorna Sheridan/Index-Tribune Education Editor


Additional Science Fair news – Last week, I reported on the news of three Sonoma students being chosen to compete at the California State Science Fair – Eliza Neeley from Altimira Middle School, Nicole Hanson from St. Francis Solano School and Alexandra Garber from Presentation School (all eighth-graders). This week, I heard which local students have been invited to the Bay Area Regional Science Fair and they are Quinn Jensen from Adele Harrison (seventh grade); Alison Perkins from St. Francis (seventh grade); and Lauren Flaherty (seventh grade), Mikaela Zeiter (seventh grade) and Natalie Gulrajani (eighth grade) from Presentation School.

Have you ever said to your son, “Be a man!?” Jennifer Newsome’s newest project is a documentary film called “The Mask You Live In,” which explores how we are failing our boys every time we urge them to “be a man.” Why is she so worried? “Compared to girls, research shows that boys in the U.S. are more likely to be diagnosed with a behavior disorder, prescribed stimulant medications, fail out of school, binge drink, commit a violent crime, and/or take their own lives.” Source: therepresentationproject.org/films/the-mask-you-live-in/.

I didn’t pay much attention to venture capitalist Tim Draper’s plan to split California into six states until I read an article that explained the negative impact it would have on the UC and CSU systems. He would spread the colleges among the states (with the new northern-most state of Jefferson without a major research university). But his plan breaks apart one of the most powerful university systems in the world. The initiative is likely to appear on your ballet in November … but even if it passes, both the state Legislature and Congress would also need to approve the highly controversial plan.

I love the idea of virtual field trips. Flowery Elementary School’s third-grade students recently connected via webcam with the California Academy of Science. They watched penguins being fed live and had the opportunity to ask scientists questions. According to Flowery third-grade teacher Matt Pope, it tied in perfectly with their current classroom unit on the physical and behavioral adaption of animals. eSchools News offers up a list of the 10 best virtual field trips here: http://tinyurl.com/d7fjmzy. On the list are an arctic adventure, Le Louvre museum, New York’s Museum of Natural History and the White House.

The Sonoma Valley school board and the administration at the high school are hard at work updating Sonoma Valley High’s policy on granting (or not granting) credit for courses taken beyond the high school walls (online and at the junior college in particular). This is a controversial topic as schools grapple with whether to grant credit for courses taken elsewhere, that are currently offered on campus. Anyone interested in this topic should plan to attend the Tuesday, April 8, meeting of the school board (6:30 p.m. at the Community Meeting Room). As a bonus, you might hear some more news about a potential pool going in at the high school.

California scored a major victory last week when U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced that he would not fine the state for refusing to do STAR testing one last time this spring (as required by No Child Left Behind). Gov. Brown celebrated with a speech in which he urged lawmakers not to burden teachers with more demands than they are already experiencing. “Over the years, California has developed an education code of 10 volumes, thousands and thousands of laws. … But at the end of the day, when you shut the door, it’s only the teacher. That is where we make the difference – the teachers of California.”

How about a free app that helps your child to explore different careers? Build Your Future allows students to explore 100 careers; determine what levels of education are required and learn about potential salaries. Teens are given a Return on Investment (ROI) score between 1 and 5 for various careers. A score of 1 means it will be difficult to pay off the debt accrued based on future income; a score of 5 means they should have no problem paying off debt with estimated future income.

Children from families with regular family routines exhibit greater social-emotional health, according to researchers. Specific results showed that children who participate in five weekly family routines are more than twice as likely to have high SEH and for each additional routine that a parent and child do together, there is an almost 50 percent greater likelihood of having high SEH. Routines include eating dinner together, singing songs, reading books, telling stories and playtime. http://tinyurl.com/mzp6e9u

A study out of Berkeley has found that preschoolers can do a better job of figuring out unusual gadgets and toys than college students, perhaps because their brains are more flexible and less rigid about cause and effect. http://tinyurl.com/m243qx3

Do you know of a teenager who is interested in human rights? The Sonoma County Junior Commission on Human Rights will be accepting applications until April 15 for a term that runs September through June. The Junior Commission is open to Sonoma County students ages 14 to 18. hr.sonoma-county.org/content.aspx?sid=1024&id=1234

Author Hilary Wice has spent the last year researching and writing a book about the six key character strengths that children need to live happy, successful lives. Number one? A love of life. Two through six? Resilience, courage, kindness, honesty and self-control. You can read the thinking behind her research at http://tinyurl.com/mlljxva

I am a big fan of the new College App Map. Students and parents can click on a grade level and, for example, see all the resources that a sophomore might find useful with regard to testing, researching colleges and researching career paths. collegeappmap.org.

Reservations are open now for El Verano Elementary School’s 10th annual golf tournament and dinner, starting at noon on Monday, April 14, at Sonoma Golf Club. The day, which is co-sponsored by Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa, includes golf, dinner, an auction and raffle. Tickets are $195, or $60 for just the dinner event. Contact Principal Maite Iturri at miturri@sonomavly.k12.ca.us for more information or visit elveranoschool.org.

I can’t say for sure how well it works, but the free website admitted.ly allows students to take fun personality quizzes and get matched to colleges that are supposedly ideal for their personality, interests and goals.

I read an article recently on the benefits of foreign films for instilling global citizenship in our children/teens. I can be hard to choose the right films because many aren’t rated or widely reviewed. Here are six that are highly recommended by Homa Tavangar, the author “Growing Up Global”:

“Ponyo” (all ages) – Japan

“My Neighbor Totoro” (all ages) – Japan

“Like Stars on Earth” (“Taare Zameen Par”) (all ages) – India

“The Red Balloon” (all ages) – France

“The Cave of the Yellow Dog” (age 7 and up) – Mongolia

“The Story of the Weeping Camel” (age 7 and up) – Mongolia

Instead of using models to show its new spring collection, the San Francisco-based clothing company Betabrand features women with Ph.D.s. To recruit the women, the company sent out a casting call on social media and 60 Ph.D.s and doctoral candidates replied. betabrand.com

For her eighth-grade service project, Catherine Flaherty from Presentation School has created a website where families can donate iPods, iTunes gift cards, and headphones to children battling cancer. This project benefits UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. musichealsme.net

The Maxwell Clubhouse will host a science fair of projects from all Boys & Girls Clubs sites in Sonoma Valley from 6 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 27.

Gifted expert Dan Peters, Ph.D. will speak on “Parenting Your Advanced Learner for a Successful Life” at Rincon Valley Middle School in Santa Rosa from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 26. There is no registration required for this free talk.

ArtEscape Sonoma is offering a free Sunday Art Play Day decorating Altoid tins from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 23. 17474-A Sonoma Highway. Ages 2 and up. No reservation required.