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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The World’s Most Inspiring Teens

It's crazy, but nonetheless inspiring, to think of what other teens (your age or younger) have managed to accomplish at their age. You are all amazing people in your own ways, and these teens are certainly no exception.

At 19, Boyan Slat created a solution to cleaning up the Pacific garbage patch in the ocean. By stringing a huge blockade and screen across polluted waters and collecting the trash along a conveyor belt, this could clean up a huge portion of the ocean pollution.

At 17, Angela Zhang (from Cupertino!) developed a potential cure for cancer. By essentially tagging tumors with nanoparticles, doctors could see the tumor regions under infrared light and target these to kill the cancer. So cool!

At 16, Martin Odegaard became the youngest person to ever play for the Real Madrid Castilla football team when he subbed in for Cristiano Ronaldo at the 58th minute of the game.

At 15, Jack Andraka was just a high school sophomore when he invented a test for detecting early pancreatic cancer, an illness that has just a 2% chance of survival. A self-proclaimed “science geek,” Andraka’s discovery won him the Intel International Science Fair.

At 14, Rowan Blanchard had spoken at the UN Women annual conference, starred Disney Channel’s Girl Meets World, and spoken out for feminism. At 14, I was just trying to survive my freshman year of high school.

At 13, Katelyn Lohr just wanted to wear socks with her flip flops but everyone made fun of her. Instead, she decided to create toeless socks, and now she has her own business to help others experiencing the same issue!

At 13, Mallory Kievman solved an issue that no one has quite seemed to figure out: how to stop hiccups! By testing different spices and ingredients, she developed the Hiccupop, a lollipop that can end a nasty bout of hiccups. Now that is my kind of invention!

Know any other inspiring teens that are out there, creating solutions in our world? Never believe that you are too young to accomplish something, because you actually have more potential than any other generation. Speak up, act out, and "be the change you wish to see in the world." 

Post by Katia G., Homework Assistant

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Transportation of The Future

So maybe floating cars aren’t today’s reality. Maybe our world is not being run by robots. Though you have to admit, Google’s self-driving cars are pretty close.

If you’ve been a longtime Mountain View resident, you’ve probably noticed the exponential growth in traffic recently. With more residents, we have more cars, and more people on the road, making it take longer to drive from point A to point B. To solve this issue of traffic and time, two California companies are investing in futuristic public transportation that will save time, save energy, and change the face of transportation.

SkyTran has been working under NASA at Moffett Field to build a suspended monorail that lifts passengers several meters above the ground. The two-passenger vehicles operate on a grid, and they're programmed with your destination to take you along the fastest route, without ever having to stop like most trains do. 

Though not implemented as mass transit quite yet, SkyTran is already boasting all its wonderful  features: for one, it will have practically zero emissions and run on renewable energy! It also promises zero traffic, it can forever expand as the “grid” grows, and it’s incredibly safe and fast (although there are no indications of just how fast quite yet). What’s the downside? Well, we would have suspended vehicles taking up our precious skyline, but hey, maybe that’s something we can accept in the near future. 

Hyperloop One is proposing a way to travel distances of hundreds of miles in a matter of minutes. Thanks to a vacuum technology, small pods carrying 6-100 people will travel through tubes that use a “custom electric motor to accelerate and decelerate a levitated pod through a low pressure tube,” according to their website.
You may have heard Elon Musk is behind this, but in fact, his company SpaceX is simply open-sourcing third party companies and challenging them to design a hyperloop. Hyperloop’s big claim is that you don’t just save money (it would cost just the same as a bus fare), but you save perhaps the most valuable thing of all: time. If implemented properly, Hyperloop One could begin transporting passengers in 2021, just a mere 5 years away. Could you imagine a future where it would take less than an hour to travel from San Francisco to LA?

 The advantages to a successful Hyperloop would include energy efficiency, a reduced environmental footprint, reduced traffic, saved money, and of course, saved time.  It does have its downsides, namely being the fact that some of this technology sounds unfeasible (and nonexistent) to several scientists.  But nevertheless, this is the future we are talking about!

So what do you think is going to be our primary mode of transit five, ten, twenty years from now? Will it be self-driving cars that populate the roadways, will Teslas take up our household garages, or will it be innovative mass transit solutions like SkyTran and Hyperloop?

Post by Katia G., Homework Assistant

Friday, January 20, 2017

Best Teen Couple Showdown!!!

In honor of Valentine's Day the Teen Zone is hosting a Best Teen Couple Showdown!
Come vote for your favorite couple from Teen Books.
This program is free, open to grades 6 through 12.
Registration is encouraged, drop-ins welcome.

Questions? email

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

'Tis the Season

Christmas, Thanksgiving, Kwanzaa, Hannukah, New Year's Day, whichever you celebrate, there's no denying the warm, feel-good time of year. Here are ways that you can locally get into the holiday spirit, right in your own backyard!

Family Fun

This annual start to the holidays will take place on Monday, December 5 from 5:30 to 7:30 PM right behind the library in the Civic Center plaza. There will be live music, a Santa photo-op, light refreshments, and even an artificial snow zone. To give back, you are also encouraged to donate a can of food.

Since 1940, Palo Alto has hosted “Christmas Tree Lane” on Fulton Street and Embarcadero Road. The neighborhood comes together to produce a fabulous Christmas stroll, with most houses on that block decorating with lights, wooden cut-outs, etc. I remember coming here since my stroller days, admiring the houses and soaking in the holiday spirit. Don’t forget to bring your hot cocoa to sip, a camera to take cheesy cute photos, and some good company! The street will be lit up from 5:00 PM to 11:00 PM from Saturday, December 12 through December 31st.

Since 1977, Downtown Los Altos has put on a parade filled with floats, marching bands, dance troops, community members, and costumed characters. For a small town, Los Altos puts on an incredible show that really brings the community together. This year, the parade will happen on Sunday, November 27 at 6:00 PM. The crowds will be crazy so get there at least an hour early to stake out your seat. (Bonus: if you’re there, look for me dressed as a princess and say hi!)

Giving Back

Every year, Family Giving Tree fills a warehouse with donated holiday presents for needy children in the Bay Area. You can either donate a toy or help package and arrange children’s gifts on site. I do this every year with my family and friends and it is a great way to spend time with others while also making a lasting impact.

Cops and Gobblers is an annual Thanksgiving food drive that has been put on by the Mountain View Police Department for the past 20 years. MVPD collects donations in order to feed 400 needy families in our community. You can join in on the food basket making and delivery. It’s so special to hand-deliver these baskets to families and witness their immense gratitude for the donation! This year, the event will take place on Sunday, November 20 at 9 AM at the police station.

Get Out and Be Active

What better way to soak up the fresh November air than to get up early and race your hardest, all before most people have woken up? This race never fails to bring out huge crowds on the holiday morning, so it must be a great event.

If you are bored around New Year’s, you can do the Hot Chocolate 5K in San Francisco and get none other than hot chocolate at the finish line!

Play a sports game on the holidays.
If your folks are the sporty type, you might find it much more healthy to spend your Thanksgiving out on the soccer or football field rather than drowning yourself in gravy and turkey. A little healthy competition never hurt anyone.

How will you be getting into the holiday spirit this year? Hopefully you can take advantage of one these opportunities and have a very festive season! 

Post by Katia G., Homework Assistant

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Homemade Halloween

Now that Halloween is over, it's time to start thinking about next year's costume!

Forget synthetic fabrics and store-bought costumes for Halloween. The best costumes aren’t the ones that you purchase at the party store the night before, nor the ones that match every other kid trick-or-treating. The best ones are original but iconic, and going the homemade route can really give it that authentic feel.

If you can sew, then think of your dream Halloween costume. Awesome. You can probably make it. Find some amazing patterns at Jo-Ann’s to make your look.
If you don’t have a knack for sewing, never fear, that's why I'm here! I bet with just the items in your closet alone, you can dress up as nearly any human character. Try these ideas to start.

Go for the decades looks!
Throw on a black leather jacket, blue jeans, and white tee to look like the slickest kid straight out of the 50s. Wear any patterned shirt and pants and you’ll achieve that strange mod look that defined the 70s. Or, throw on your tie dye and hold your fingers in a permanent peace sign to become a hippie.

Do a funny group costume!
Think Wayne’s World, Napoleon Dynamite, Carl and Russel from UP, or Scooby Doo characters.

Be an iconic movie character!
Get a red cap and a white shirt and become Forrest Gump. Run, Forrest, Run! Or, go running as Rocky Balboa in his iconic jog through Philadelphia: just wear several layers of gray cotton sweats and you’ve got it down!

If you’re looking for a specific item, say an orange jacket, that you don’t have laying around, just take a peek inside a thrift store and I bet you will find the perfect thing.

Channel your childhood!
How fun would it be to dress up as Dora the Explorer? A pink shirt, orange shorts, and purple backpack seals the deal. Or, you could be a “big kid” by wearing some footsie pajamas, a pacifier, and carrying a teddy bear.

Throw it back to 90’s flicks!
Wednesday Addams might be a common costume, but a pretty awesome and easy one at that. Black braids, black clothes, and a permanent frown are all you need. On the other end of the spectrum, you can be one of the girls from Clueless.

Be a strong, independent woman.
It just takes an aviator hat and leather jacket to become Amelia Earhart, or a denim shirt and red bandana to be Rosie the Riveter. Show off your feminism with pride.

I would love to hear how you dress up for Halloween, one of my favorite nights of the year! 

Post by Katia G., Homework Assistant

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Weekend Get-Aways

Congrats! You've survived the first several weeks of school and you'll likely cherish every moment of the weekend. Take care of any school work on Friday afternoon because you're not going to have any time to do it while you're enjoying this weekend!

If you enjoy getting outdoors....

Forget Pokemon Go - go geocaching! If you are planning on going on a hike, make it into a scavenger hunt by searching for hidden caches. If you have data on your smartphone, it's easy! 

Head over to Vasona Lake  or Shoreline Lake for some paddle boating, bike rides, or pretty sunset picnics. 

Drive to the beach! If you like the sun and surf, head to Santa Cruz or Capitola. If you prefer the foggy views, Ocean Beach or Half Moon Bay are the best.

If you want to jam out to music...
Several awesome artists are coming to the Bay! Green Day, Pentatonix, and Charlie Puth just to name a few.

For coffeehouse blues, Red Rock Coffee always has Open Mic nights with local artists.

If you're feeling lazy...
Sleep in late, read a book, take a bath, watch some Netflix.
Bake a recipe you've been dying to try but you don't have the time.
Call friends and family members to spend time together.

Make sure to share how you spend your weekends in the comments. Have fun, you all deserve it!


Post by Katia G., Homework Assistant

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Breaking Records is No Longer a Good Thing....

2016 is a record-breaking year.

And here you were all along, thinking it was just another year gone by. Now, I’m sure you’re so excited—more records is more fun, more accomplishment, right?

But believe it or not, 2016 was the year with the hottest summers, the coldest winters, the strongest winds, and the worst fires. Whether we decide to attribute such environmental patterns to humans or not, you’ve got to admit it’s a little scary.

This past June was the hottest month of June ever recorded. And the same goes from the hottest May, hottest April, and the entire last year which has recorded the highest ever monthly temperatures. Yikes! In fact, in June, Iraq and Kuwait brought the thermometer to 129 degrees Fahrenheit, the highest temperature ever other than the historic reading in 1913 in Death Valley.

If you haven’t heard, carbon dioxide is the gas that is primarily responsible for global warming. And carbon dioxide levels have been on the rise ever since cars got on the road. But this year, the carbon rate accelerated, increasing by 3.1 parts per million (ppm) to bring us over 400 ppm for the first time in man's history. YIKES

What more? The Great Barrier Reef, one of the natural wonders of the world, was almost entirely killed, it’s coral “bleached” by the warm water current from El Nino. Only 7% of the entire reef escaped bleaching. Y-I-K-E-S.

So you’ve probably heard the joke about the polar bears drowning as their ice melts away. Well, my friends, this is unfortunately not a joke. This year also is on track to have the smallest amount of ocean ice ever-- meaning polar bears and seals lose their habitats, and the sea levels are rising.

Needless to say, if our world continues to warm at this rate, every year is going to be a record-breaking year going forward. Are you scared? Inspired? Either way, take action ( to avoid breaking more of these “records.” It starts with just one person, making a difference.

Where I found my facts: 

Post by Katia G., Homework Assistant