Category Archives: Youth

Eighth grade students work with NASA  

Students to launch experiment to learn about laws of science in space.

by Dylan McHenry, Malia Sanchez, and Sara Milesi

The eighth grade students at Ventura Missionary School are partnering with NASA and Quest for Space in conducting an experiment hoping to learn more about laws of science in space. “This is a great opportunity for the students to be a part of real life science and engineering while conducting an experiment where the results will be helpful for NASA and their exploration to Mars” says science teacher Mrs. Woods.

They will launch an experiment to the International Space Station (ISS) in February, 2019 to see if the properties of heat transfer change in space. The experiment will help the students learn, and will also provide information for NASA. NASA has been experimenting with combustion, and found there were some surprising results. It turns out that heat transfer is different in microgravity, and this experiment will help to further this research. In the experiment, the class is working together and conducting those experiments on Earth first.  The same experiment will then be performed in space and they will compare the results.  In the experiment, they will use the same heat source, conductor, and method of recording in each experiment.  The difference will be limited amount of gravity and oxygen that is found on the ISS.  In order to learn how to build the experiment, the students first built and programmed robots using the Lego EV3.

This experiment is helping NASA know a little bit more about how heat transfers in space. In future Extravehicular activities (EVAs), space walks,  they can know what to expect with the transfer of heat in the space around the astronaut, in the Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU),space suit, and even stars and large bodies in space, such as planets. This exciting experiment is due to launch in February, so keep an eye out for the ISS. There were three experiments that the class could choose from.

“ We all voted on doing the third experiment where we put a ceramic resistor between two heat and humidity sensors with a fan to move the air and see which sensor heats up and cools down faster,” explained VMS student Isabella Rodriguez.  This experiment is not only fun for the students, but  it also provides an opportunity for the workers at NASA and Quest to see students getting involved and engaged in the world around them. Along with VMS, 13 other schools across the nation will be partnering with NASA and Quest. “I think it’s awesome that I get to be part of such a great experiment and I’ve learned so much.”  said Alivia Baker, VMS student.  The eighth grade class is very excited to launch the experiment, and eager to find out the results. So wish them luck and a fun learning  experience!

Ventura Missionary School

Cabrillo Middle School brings home robotics honors

Celebrating their victory!

The Riptide Robotics team from Cabrillo Middle School in Ventura recently participated in the First LEGO League Los Angeles Area Championship Tournament, after winning the Champion’s Award at the Ventura Regionals. They came home with the coveted First LEGO League Research Project Award for the work they did on their project, the “Veggie-Sphere.”

This year’s theme “Into Orbit” allows teams to build and compete with their robots but also expands the challenge and asks all teams to develop a project that would allow for humans to stay alive, healthy, and happy while living and working in outer space. This team took the problem of growing food in space and developed the “Veggie-Sphere.”

“Finding a way to grow food in the dark, without gravity, and very little soil was a hard problem to tackle. Through many tries and failures we think we developed a way that would allow astronauts to grow vegetables in these conditions,” stated team member Sam Quiroz.

“We were provided with the opportunity to talk with NASA Engineers in Florida, we took a tour of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Labs and worked with engineers at Sessa Manufacturing who assisted us in developing our prototype,” stated team member Connor Upham.

Coached by JD Sessa, the Riptide Robotics team is made up of ten students; Alicia Ali, Alexander Blomquist, Olivia Blomquist, Emiliano Ferro, Matheus Gamble, Sam Quiroz, Burton Sessa, Conner Upham, and Scott Vreeland. The team is currently fundraising and looking for additional sponsors to assist them with project/robot costs and the purchase of two new laptops. Individuals can donate to their GoFundMe page at and companies who wish to sponsor can reach out to fundraising committee member and team parent, Marieanne Quiroz at

FIRST LEGO League is an international program for 9 to 16-year-old children (ages vary by country) created in a partnership between FIRST and the LEGO Group in 1998 to get children excited about science and technology – and teach them valuable career and life skills. Children work alongside adult Mentors to design, build, and program autonomous robots using LEGO MINDSTORMS® and create an innovative solution to a real-world problem as part of their research project.

SEEAG receives California Dept. of Food & Agriculture Grant

The SEEAG initiative will reach 10,000 children.

Students for Eco-Education and Agriculture (SEEAG) was selected to receive a $218,684 California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Specialty Crop Block Grant for SEEAG’s “Ventura County Child Wellness Initiative,” a program that is designed to educate and inspire children to eat healthy by adding locally grown Ventura County specialty crops to their diet.

The SEEAG initiative will reach 10,000 children including low income, Title 1 students in grades second through fourth during school and after school through its Farm Fresh Mobile Classroom. Students will learn about the nutrients and health benefits of Ventura County specialty crops such as berries, celery, citrus, tomatoes and avocadoes. A different crop will be highlighted each month.

According to a UCLA study (A Patchwork of Progress), about 35% of fifth, seventh and ninth graders in Ventura County are overweight, which puts them at risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and asthma.

Through the Ventura County Child Wellness Initiative, SEEAG will introduce hands-on activities to increase children’s knowledge of, preference for, and consumption of fresh California fruits and vegetables. Students will learn to prepare healthy after-school snacks using locally grown crops. SEEAG will partner with local growers to donate fruits and vegetables that students will take home to share with their families. Recipe cards and information about local farmers’ markets will further support healthy eating at home.

“A CDFA representative visited us in April and saw firsthand the impact our programs were making,” says Mary Maranville. “SEEAG has been putting on these kinds of programs for 10 years. The knowledge they bring to students and the students’ positive response are what make it all worthwhile. These kids are learning a different, healthier way to eat that we hope will stay with them throughout their lives.”

Founded in 2008, Students for Eco-Education and Agriculture (SEEAG) is a nonprofit organization that aims to help young students understand the origins of their food by bridging the gap between agriculture and consumption through its agricultural education programming. SEEAG’s “The Farm Lab” program based in Ventura County teaches schoolchildren about the origins of their food and the importance of local farmland by providing schools with classroom agricultural education and free field trips to farms. Through this program, over 20,000 elementary school students in Southern California have increased their understanding of the food journey.

For more about SEEAG and learn how to sign up for its programs, go to

Countywide Robotics Competition held in Ventura

Robots being manipulated by student designers and programmers attempting to score points in the robotics competition. Photos by Richard Lieberman

by Richard Lieberman

On Saturday, October 27, at Holy Cross school in downtown Ventura the Ventura County Office of Education sponsored a VEX Robotics competition for middle and high school students from Ventura County. There were 24 teams and more than 150 students competing. The contest is now in its fourth year.

Local Ventura County students, relying on guidance from teachers and industry specialists, have designed, and built robots. The robots have been designed to score the most possible points in qualification matches and skills challenges.

John Tarkany Coordinator at the Ventura Office of Education has been responsible for all of student competitions in Ventura County. He has had responsibility for Mock Trial, Academic Decathlon, and the Science Fair. “We saw robotics were taking off and both the engineering and programming to build them.” Tarkany said. “We started looking at various robotic competitions and there were two that stood out First Robotics and Vex Robotics.” He added.

Students in the competition are required to program a robot and drive a robot in the competition. Each robot competing costs around $2000 to build program and compete. Each team also pays a fee to come to the event.

The first 30 seconds of each match in the contest is autonomous mode where the robot is programmed to perform a function. “I have been really impressed with some of the pre-programmed tasks.” Said Tarkany. The programming requires the robots to pick up balls and throw them at a flag and knock it over for points.

Competing teams were from grade levels from six to twelfth grades. Winning teams will compete in a statewide competition in March or April of next year.

Vol. 12, No. 3 – Nov 7 – Nov 20, 2018 – Person to (Little) Person

by Jennifer Tipton

I asked some younger Venturans,
“What is the spookiest part of Halloween?”

Eden Felder (Harry Potter)
age 6 ½ / 1st grade

“People dress up and go trick or treating, they put scary things out and make it spooky, like Jack ‘O Lanterns and sometimes graveyards!” Eden’s favorite candy is Jolly Ranchers, chocolate bars and Twinkies and he says, “my parents don’t ever eat my candy”.

Raelyn Farnsworth (cat)
age 6 / 1st grade

“I think the spookiest thing is getting dressed up with scary costumes, the scariest I’ve seen is a monster with no eyes and vampire Jack ‘O Lanterns are scary too!” Raelyn’s favorite candy is a chocolate bar with cookie crumbs in it and ice cream. Raelyn says no one at her house can eat their candy, “except us”.

See her sister’s comment below …

Kaitlynn Farnsworth (witch)
age 7/ 3rd grade

(turning 8 in November)

Gotta love this one-

Kaitlyn thinks the spookiest thing about Halloween is, “the people who hand out toothbrushes and super healthy stuff!” Her favorite candy is Snickers and she worries about all 3 of her sisters stealing her candy, “especially Raelyn!”

Aliyana Avila (cat)
age 6 / 1st grade

“Scary people that dress up like clowns! And witches are scary too!” Aliyana’s favorite candy is Twix, “my mom and dad sometimes eat my candy when I’m at school, but they only take their favorites”.


Kash LeClaire (baseball player)
age 7 / 2nd grade

“When you go to a creepy house! That’s when I get freaked out!” Kash’s favorite candy is “Hersheys and Reeses!” He has no worries about anyone at home getting into his candy but wants us to know his favorite thing on Halloween is, “the hot dog dude!”

See “the hot dog dude!” in this issue.

Timothy Shirk (Power Ranger “with accessories”)
age 6 / 1st grade

“Getting your pants scared off by really scary things like bats, fake bats at houses and puppet bats, that’s all I know about Halloween.” Timothy likes Kit Kats the best and says no one ever gets into his candy because, “I have spy cameras with lasers and evil pumpkins!”

(and a great imagination Timothy!)

Sophia Ornelas (Wonder Woman)
age 6 / 1st grade

“The spookiest part about it is the ghosts, I’ve never seen one, but it scares me! And spiders, I see them on Halloween at my friend’s house, she likes spiders.” Sophia’s favorite Halloween treat is candy corn and sometimes her mom does get into her candy after she goes trick or treating at “the whole place of Ventura”.

Kai Petralba (dragon warrior)
age 11 / 5th grade

“It’s hard to explain but I think the spookiest thing is when you leave someone behind, one time we left our sister behind on accident, we went back, and she was mad at us.”

Kai’s favorite are Hershey bars, but he worries about candy thieves, “like my sisters, my dad, my step mom, my mom, my grandpa and gramma …”

Application period now open for Edison Scholarship Program

High school seniors who dream of making a difference in the world through STEM studies are invited to apply to Edison International’s $1.2 million Edison Scholars Program.

Edison International, the parent company of Southern California Edison, is awarding $40,000 scholarships, paid over four years, to 30 high school students planning to major in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) fields at four-year accredited U.S. colleges and universities.

Applicants must live in SCE’s service territory and plan to be a full-time undergraduate college freshman majoring in a STEM field in fall 2019. Eligible students must be a high school senior, have at least a cumulative 3.0 GPA and demonstrate financial need. Students from underserved communities and ethnic minorities are encouraged to apply. Dependents of Edison International and SCE employees and retirees are not eligible for the Edison Scholars Program.

“I’m the beneficiary of a STEM education, and I know it changes lives,” said Pedro Pizarro, president and CEO of Edison International. “At Edison, we are proud to play a role in helping local students realize their academic dreams.”

Scholarship recipients will be announced next spring. They may also be eligible for summer internships at SCE after completing their second year of college.

Since 2006, Edison International has awarded more than $8.7 million in scholarships to 610 students’ higher education through the Edison Scholars Program.

Edison International’s support of charitable causes, including the Edison Scholars Program, is funded entirely by Edison International shareholders. SCE customers’ utility bill payments do not fund company donations.

To apply and get additional eligibility information, visit: Scholarship applications are now being accepted through Dec. 14.

Ventura teen chosen to compete on ‘Top Chef Junior’

At 6’-3” he might need to show his birth certificate.

Thirteen year old 8th grade Cabrillo Middle School student Carson Peterson has been chosen from thousands of kids to compete on ‘Top Chef Junior’ airing on Universal Kids for their second season. Top Chef Junior, the cooking competition spun off from the popular Top Chef last year,

He is 1 of 11 contestants competing for $50,000 and the title of Top Chef. Peterson applied to be on the show in January and made it through two rounds of eliminations.

Said Peterson. “It was a lot of hard work and more hard work to come, but I was really happy.” Carson credits his grandmother for teaching him how to cook when he was younger. “She is a really big inspiration for my cooking and she’s taught me a lot.”

Top Chef Junior, Season 2, airs on Saturday, at 6 p.m. on Universal Kids. For more information, visit Follow Carson Peterson on Instagram at @topchefcarson.

Meet Carson! He’s a 6’3 gentle giant with a heart of gold and a passion for cooking. He fell in love with it while watching his Italian grandmother in the kitchen. He has great respect for tradition and the importance of passing down recipes. When he’s not in the kitchen you can find him getting straight A’s, shooting hoops, or playing one of five instruments!

Local schools encouraged to participate in High School Voter Education Weeks

Ventura County Clerk-Recorder, Registrar of Voters Mark Lunn encourages local schools to participate in High School Voter Education Weeks. Lunn stated, “High School Voter Education Weeks provides an opportunity for educators to highlight the electoral process and build excitement among future voters.”

The California Education Code designates the last two full weeks in April and September to be High School Voter Education Weeks. This provides an opportunity for high schools and their students to partner with county elections officials to promote civic education and foster an environment that cultivates lifelong voters and active citizens. This year, High School Voter Education Weeks began September 17 and continues through September 28.

The Ventura County Elections Division contacted high schools throughout the county to provide information and recommendations to recognize High School Voter Education Weeks. Schools can hold a mock election, nominate students for the County’s Student Poll Worker Program, or coordinate a voter registration drive on campus.

In recent years, Ventura County Elections has implemented several programs to encourage civic engagement including creating a mobile app, launching a texting program, and offering pre-registration to 16 and 17-year olds, making them automatically eligible to vote on their 18th birthday.

For more information on programs, High School Voter Education Weeks, or to partner with local elections officials, visit or call the Elections Division at (805) 654-2664.

California Coastal Art & Poetry Contest winners on display until Nov. 18

The winning entries from this year’s California Coastal Art & Poetry Contest will be on display at the Channel Islands National Park Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center until November 18. The art and poetry display includes 47 winning pieces from over 2,500 entries. A special unveiling of the artwork occurred on Sept. 15 during Coastal Cleanup Day.

The annual contest is designed to encourage youth to reflect on the beauty and spirit of California’s coasts and ocean. Through this effort, the California Coastal Commission hopes to inspire a greater sense of appreciation and stewardship for these natural places.

Enjoying the unveiling were Channel Islands Park Foundation members Ken McAlpine, Vahagn Nahabedian, Ranger Lauren Boross, art winner Ventura kindergartener, Serenity Rayne Holmes, art winner Lompoc High senior Marina Zellers and Tigran Nahabedian .

The winning contest entries can all be viewed and are available for purchase at

New library card design art contest.

Calling all children and teen artists!!!  The Ventura County Library wants you to design the new children and teen library cards.  The contest will run through September 29.  Only children (ages 5-12) and teens (ages 13-17) are eligible to participate, one entry per person.  All entries must be submitted on a regulated contest form.  You may pick up a regulated contest form with contest rules at any Ventura County Library.  For library locations please visit

Ventura County Library: Inspiring our community to explore, discover and connect.

The Ventura County Library is available 24/7 at