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DECEMBER 2014              

 NUMBER 6    

Message from the YSC

Dear friends, 

2014 Top-rated nonprofits and charities
We're pleased to announce that the Youth Science Center has won a 2014 "Top-Rated" award from Great Nonprofits. We welcome you to read our great reviews and add your YSC story!   To date we have received 91 reviews!  Thanks to everyone for their kind words and strong endorsement of our program.

Judy Dominguez is remembered for the thousands of YSC students who took her model rocketry and Starlab planetarium classes over 20 years.  Her knowledge and ability to inspire students were unmatched, and she was
the inspiration for this year's alumnus honoree Daniel Talancon for pursuing his dream and getting a PhD degree in 2013.  

If you would like to make a donation to the Judy Dominguez Memorial Scholarship Fund in any amount, please 
send a check to Youth Science Center, P.O. Box 5723, Hacienda Heights, CA 91745. 
Please write Scholarship Fund in the Memo Field.  All donations are tax deductible.

Wishing everyone a great 2015!

--The YSC Team

STEM in the 21st Century Essay Contest

Thanks to our essay judges Pamela Leestma, Teri Malkin and Patricia Smith.

Winners in the essay contest, "STEM in the 21st Century" received certificates and recognition at the YSC dinner.

Ronny Johnson, Jr - Grade 4 - Sparks Elementary.  Ronny's essay, "Super Sensors,"
uses computer technology to design a system to find lost personal objects, like keys and cell phones.

Jessica Alano - Grade 8 - Oswalt Academy.  Jessica's essay, "Environmental Civil Engineering," proposes to find a way to convert waste brine from a solar desalination plant into useful products and to recover additional water for irrigation systems.

LeAnn Zuñiga - Grade 12 - Alverno High School.  LeAnn's essay, "The 21st Century: Water in the West," proposes to develop a network of desalination pipes across California.  The waste brine would be converted into usable building materials and borates to be used as a wood preservative.

  STEM winners shown with Keynote Speaker Mike Eng.  From left to right:  Jessica Alano, Ronny Johnson Jr., and LeAnn Zuniga.   Photo courtesy of Aaron Dominguez.
                           YSC Gala Held on November 14

  Photo courtesy of Aaron Dominguez
  Alumnus honoree Daniel Talancon recently received a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from U.C. Berkeley.  Daniel gave an overview of some of the research projects being done by some of his colleagues and also his own work on regenerative braking in electric cars.   He will be working for Tesla Motors.  Daniel is the son of Sandra and Gilbert Talancon.

Daniel's academic journey to a doctorate in mechanical engineering all started in one of Judy and Aaron Dominguez' many rocketry classes at the YSC. He distinctly remembers sitting in a Wedgeworth Elementary classroom and realizing that rocket science wasn't just fascinating, but that he could actually be a rocket scientist - as long as he was willing to work for it. He credits the YSC with a lot of his success due to this early motivation to take his education seriously. He graduated from La Habra High School in 2005 and initially enrolled at Caltech as an aerospace engineering major, fully intending to pursue his goal of being a rocket scientist and work for NASA. He switched majors to study mechanical engineering when he was exposed to the variety of roles engineers can serve in solving many of society's greatest problems right here on earth, including: access to clean food, water, healthcare, and clean energy. He pursued a master's degree and doctorate at UC Berkeley in mechanical engineering to gain more hands-on research experience solving these important problems.




Our thanks to the following dinner sponsors:

Gold Sponsor
Quemetco, Inc.

Silver Sponsor
   Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX)

Bronze Sponsor
   Hon.  Supervisor Don Knabe, 4th District
Ron and Judy Chong

Community Sponsors

     Chinese American Parent Advisory Council (CAPAC)
     Industry Manufacturers Council
Jeff Parriott
Mount San Antonio College
Mike Eng
Rowland Unified School District
Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County
The Grace Group Fundraising Company
Valley Vista Services


YSC Selected as a Microsoft Community Partner

Microsoft Logo

The YSC was chosen as a Community Partner of their new store in the Los Cerritos Center which opened on November 22nd.   The store is donating $5,000 in hardware to upgrade our computer equipment.  Microsoft corporate is donating software with a value of up to $50,000.  The software will allow us to use the latest Office suite of programs and other applications.   The YSC is really excited about this opportunity and wishes to thank Microsoft for making this possible!

At the Microsoft Los Cerritos Mall ribbon cutting ceremony withith Ramla Javed (Store Manager), Steven Guggenheimer (Microsoft Corporate VP and Chief Evangelist), Ron Chong (YSC Chairman) and Mark Simons (CEO Toshiba America Information Systems). 



Sparks Elementary Students Launch SpaceX Rockets


The weather cleared for launch day at Sparks Elementary on December 4.   Parents were on hand to see their students launch their SpaceX rockets.  The rockets were built in four after school sessions under the guidance of YSC instructor Lyle Majeska.   The class was made possible by a grant from the Union Pacific Foundation and rocket donation from SpaceX.


Sparks El Dec 2014 


   Sparks Elementary student at Mission Conrol fires off her SpaceX rocket with instructor Lyle Majeska.


  Nine Secrets of Preparing for and 
Gaining Admissions 
to Highly Selective Colleges
By Andrea Martin
Special to The Antenna
1.     Being a good enough student to do the work isn't good enough by itself to get in.
Universities such as MIT and Harvard receive applications from many more fully qualified applicants than they have spots to fill, and a significant percentage are from valedictorians with very high standardized test scores. Rather than admitting those with the very top grades and scores, such schools look among the well qualified for those who have demonstrated other many desirable qualities and outstanding accomplishments.
2.     Preparing for Ivy League college admissions is usually worth the effort, even if you don't get in.
By preparing for admission to highly selective colleges, students can learn their limits, overcome them, and enter college well prepared for the challenges. Solid preparation may gain a student consideration over more naturally talented students who are less prepared. A student who is not offered admission to a top school may receive the best scholarships where they do attend. Accomplishments from high school preparation may bolster professional credentials for a lifetime. Well prepared students tend to be more mature and better weather challenges faced in college.

3.     Constructive involvement in the outside world increases a student's likelihood of acceptance.
Think of your child's world-home, school, social media, entertainment, vacation experiences, and community associations. Chances are, many other students in that world can offer colleges the similar skills, attitudes, and knowledge. To be competitive for admission to highly selective colleges, most students must venture outside that world and engage in constructive activities that would not be expected of them. They must have proven accomplishments that require adult-like skills that nonetheless are appropriate for a minor. Reaching outside the student's world may yield more mature social skills, a more impressive extracurricular resume, better decision making, and a clearly broader and deeper context that will make adapting to a diverse college class more natural and positive. 
4.     Career assessment and skill development should start well before adolescence.
The way your student turns out is based on three things-nature, nurture, and personal choice. By engaging in age-appropriate self-discovery and career exploration from an early age, students develop a realistic context in which to make wise academic and career choices and prepare to be  the best qualified candidates for the colleges that will nurture their passions and prepare them for personal and professional success. Done optimally, this takes years.
5.     Each student's education should evolve in a flexible fashion along with the student's development.
Many admitted students have received a hybrid education that includes more than one type of formal education. Even admitted students who have always attended public schools are likely to have also learned heavily in the home, outside courses, online courses, residential summer programs, private guidance, work experiences, self-led studies, nonprofit and self-initiated community service, and much more.  Do what works for your unique student, even if it's not typical. As long as you cover academics well, diverting from the typical path will not pose a risk to potential admissions.
6.     Personality matters to highly selective colleges.
A student has demonstrated that he or she can successfully complete very challenging academic work may be admitted over a student with higher grades and scores if they have remarkable charisma. Your student's personality will come out in teacher references, essays, short answers on applications, phone interactions with admissions officers, supplementary materials, social media, and interviews with alumni. Colleges care about personality for several reasons. First, their graduates will represent the college for a lifetime. Their admitted students will live together and work together for four or more years. Together, admitted students form a class whose collective personality will affect the college and establish a legacy. And, importantly, a student's personality may affect their academic success as they are stretched to their limits under a heavy academic load.
7.     Values matter, as do value-driven accomplishments. 
Ambitious students may hope to be accepted to the most prestigious schools, certain that graduating from one of them will help them for life. However, each of these schools espouses a unique set of values that are not fully duplicated in similarly ranked colleges. When applying to and selecting colleges, the self-aware student will be fully aware of the value base on which each school operates and the overlap with his or her own values. Students are more likely to be admitted to schools that see the student as supporting school values. Further, attending a school with values that heavily overlap a student's individual values will energize the student, whereas a mismatch will drain the student's energy. Colleges admit students who will work well with other students and college faculty and staff and then graduate and represent the school values to the world at large.
8.     Demonstration of time and project management skills are essential.
No matter how challenging a student's high school career has been, academics at highly selective colleges will be more challenging and require much more time and energy.  Inefficient study and work habits can deprive the unprepared student of much needed rest and recreation and lead to failing grades for students who were top students in high school. The student whose natural talent allows him or her to easily succeed in high school should be required to learn and use time management and project management skills regularly before college. Highly selective colleges will look for evidence of this, although heavy parental support my make an unprepared student appear prepared.  
9.     Students with hybrid educational backgrounds have advantages. 
First, let me acknowledge that institutional schools offer some advantage over homeschools, while homeschools offer some advantages over institutional schools.
Institutional schools are public and private schools in which students congregate to be educated by paid, professional staff. Homeschools vary widely but typically involve a home based education led primarily by one parent. In general, institutional schools are known entities with statistics, practices, and histories that colleges understand. They offer standard documentation, staff who is familiar with the broader educational system, networking with colleges, regular and standard comparative measurement of achievement, and a predictable level of investment in each student that varies primarily by location and category. Resources are also more or less predictable. 


Homeschools, on the other hand, offer greatly varied curriculum choices, scheduling flexibility, opportunities to pursue time-consuming interests, and the ability to meet special needs if the resources are available. Often, however, the burden of taking advantage of these benefits is typically on the family alone, and not all who have the resources take full advantage of these benefits. Further, homeschool families generally must take pains to counteract stereotypes about homeschooled students being undereducated, socially underdeveloped, and separated from the real world.


Understanding these advantages and disadvantages allows families to access the advantages of various types of education to meet their children's unique needs and build their unique potential. Remember that even when a student spends twelve or thirteen years in one type of education, time outside of school hours allow them to participate in other forms of education when it makes sense to do so.


© 2014 by Andrea Martin.  Permission to reprint, present, publish or communicate the material in this article may not be done without the express permission of Andrea Martin.


Andrea Martin has taught in public, private, and home based schools as well as in colleges and corporate training environments. She guided her own son to earn admission to ten highly selective colleges before he accepted admission to Caltech in Pasadena. Earning a mention in her son's commendation by the Texas House of Representatives, Andrea has guided adolescents in preparing for and applying to highly selective colleges for the past seven years. She now offers a parent course in preparing students ages ten and up for optimal college admissions.    She can be reached at [email protected]



edX Offers Free Online College Courses


3D Printing In the News

   Derby the Dog gets 3D printed front leg prosthesis.  Derby was born with deformed front legs.  See how quickly he adapted to his new prosthesis
at this link.

   Texas high school computer science students build a hand for 2-year old boy using a $1500 3D-printer.  See the video here.

   Keep up with the latest in 3D printing news and products at this

Google Code-in Contest Opens on December 1st


The Google Code-in is a contest to introduce pre-university students (ages 13-17) to the many kinds of contributions that make open source software development possible. The contest runs from December 1, 2014 to January 19, 2015.


For many students the Google Code-in contest is their first introduction to open source development. For Google Code-in we work with open source organizations, each of whom has experience mentoring university students in the Google Summer of Code program, to provide "bite sized" tasks for participating students to complete during the seven week contest.


These tasks include:


* Code: Tasks related to writing or refactoring code


* Documentation/Training: Tasks related to creating/editing documents and helping others learn more


* Outreach/Research Tasks related to community management, outreach/marketing or studying problems and recommending solutions


* Quality Assurance: Tasks related to testing and ensuring code is of high quality


* User Interface: Tasks related to user experience research or user interface design and interaction


Students earn one point for each task completed. Students will receive a certificate for completing one task and can earn a t-shirt when they complete three tasks. At the end of the contest each of the open source organizations will name two (2) grand prize winners for their organization based upon the students' body of work. The grand prize winners will receive a trip to Google's Mountain View, California, USA Headquarters for themselves and a parent or legal guardian for an award ceremony, an opportunity to meet with Google engineers, explore the Google campus and have a fun day in the San Francisco, California sun. 


    Everyone should learn how to code, especially students

     In a December 8, 2014 TEDx presentation,  Hadi Partori, CEO of CODE.ORG tells why learning how to code is the new foundation of learning logic, problem solving and creativity (like the YSC's Lego Robotics and 3D-Printing classes).   Even fun things like managing Angry Birds by dragging and dropping is the start of learning how to code.  Students learn that coding is easy and fun!  Computer Science is foundational for ANY JOB, and is something that all schools should include in their curriculum.   See his presentation here.



Niche School District Rankings Methodology: 
Best Public K-12 School Districts

The Best Public School Districts ranking provides a comprehensive assessment of the overall experience at public school districts in the United States and Puerto Rico. It uses data sourced from various government and public data sets, Niche's own proprietary data, and 4,624,238 opinion-based survey responses across a variety of topics from 287,606 current students, recent alumni, and parents.

A high ranking in Overall Experience generally indicates that:

  • Students are very happy with their experience in all aspects including academics, teachers, health, safety, resources, facilities, extracurriculars, sports, and fitness;
  • District schools are exceptional academic institutions in terms of teachers, students, resources for learning, and student outcomes;
  • District schools are made up of a diverse population and fosters an accepting, positive school culture;
  • Students are actively involved in a variety of extracurriculars and sports which the district offers.
  • Rankings for area districts:
        1   San Marino
       13  Walnut Valley
       31  Fullerton Union
       44  Brea-Olinda USD
      108 West Covina USD
       113 Whittier Union HS
       144 Chino Valley USD
       147 Hacienda La Puente USD
       198 Temple City
       206  Rowland USD
       234  El Monte HS
       240  Norwalk La Mirada USD
       282  Pomona USD
48th Ag District News

48th Ag Logo 

Read the latest 48th Ag November-December 2014 newsletter here.  This newsletter contains a lesson for Grades 5 - 8, "Water Cycle in a Cup."  The district will have its annual AgFair at the Pomona Fairplex May 12-16, 2015.  The theme is "Know Soil, Know Life."
The 48th DAA office is located at Building F10 Farm Road, Mt San Antonio College Campus, 1100 N Grand Avenue, Walnut 91789. They have a wide variety of agriculture resource materials available to teachers.  Teachers who receive the materials agree to have their students participate in the annual fair in May at the Fairplex in Pomona.   Phone (909) 274-2433 for more information.




The Youth Science Center is participating as a Museum Partner withShopforMuseums.com.  As a Museum Partner, anyone shopping online with their favorite national retailers can have a portion of their purchase directed to the Youth Science Center at no additional cost.ShopforMuseums.com is nationally recognized with hundreds of Museum Partners across the country. Whether you are in the market for books, office supplies, apparel, gifts, travel reservations, home improvement, school supplies, toys, electronics, flowers or gourmet food.  You name it, the place to start is at ShopforMuseums.com! 


Participation is simple and secure. To designate a portion of your next online purchase to (YOUR MUSEUM NAME HERE), simply:
  Log in.
  Then just click on the link of the store you want to visit and go about your shopping. Stores are organized by categories.
The percentage of your purchase will be tracked automatically as long as you begin each time at ShopforMuseums.com


Please use ShopforMuseums.com each time you shop online and spread the word to friends and family.  THE YOUTH SCIENCE CENTER appreciates your support.


Shopping for Back-to School supplies? Remember to use the ShopforMuseums.com online shopping portal and support us with FREE DONATIONS on each purchase you make!
College students, access great deals on dorm supplies, computers, textbooks and laptop bags.You can even support us when you even rent a vehicle to get your gear to school!
Need uniforms, art supplies, sneakers, laptops, backpacks and school supplies for your younger students? Shop your favorite stores- Old Navy, Gap, Sears, Dell, Staples, Walmart and hundreds more. Plus find exclusive savings.

Simply visit ShopforMuseums.com, select the Youth Science Center to receive a donation, then click through on any of the store links and do your shopping like you normally would. Once you check out, a percentage of your purchase amount becomes a free donation to the Youth Science Center. Thanks in advance for your support!


Visiting the Hacienda Heights Youth Science Center

The Youth Science Center operates a hands-on science center which is currently closed while we move our operations to Bixby Elementary School in Hacienda Heights.
Call (626) 854-9825 for information on the opening date.
Visiting guests can also enjoy the Youth Science Center store, which is stocked with various science related materials.  For more information regarding the Youth Science Center please call (626) 854-9825.
The official newsletter of the Youth Science Center is published February, April, June, October and December.  The Youth Science Center was founded in 1962 in Fullerton.  The Hacienda Heights branch was established in 1984.  The Youth Science Center's Tax ID Number is 95-2273238.  




YSC Board of Directors:                                       Youth Science Center Staff:
Chairman: Ron Chong                                            Museum and Summer Director: Diana Padilla
Vice-Chairman:  Jeff Parriott                                 Program Development Officer:  Dr. Richard Shope
Treasurer:  Philip Teders                                       Summer Principals: Phyllis Vandeventer and Dee Rathan
Ted Ebenkamp                                     Summer Registration:  Caroline Weatherford  
                                                                                Antenna Editor:  Ron Chong                                
Members of the Board of Directors:                     
Dee Rathman                      Vicky Soong                
Derek Rojas                         Drexel Smith               Member at Large: Rolin Soong,  Liz Lin               
Roger Huynh                        Phyllis Vandeventer     Kim Bach, Pat Smith, Judy Chong

Circulation this issue:  1,377
YSC Website www.youthsciencecenter.org supported and funded by Ryan Gagajena of My Web Design Source