Our Community Celebrates Benjamin Banneker Week!

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Each year, during the week of November 9th, Americans celebrate “Benjamin Banneker Week” to honor the contributions of this great mathematician. For many students, mathematics is viewed as a faceless, and sometimes meaningless, subject, but learning more about the men and women who have shaped mathematics can inspire generations. Banneker is one such individual.


Born outside of Baltimore, Maryland on November 9, 1731, Benjamin Banneker was born a free black and was generally self-taught through most of his young adult life. Banneker began to display his brilliance as an engineer while he was a young man. First, he loved to solve puzzles and later he invented the the first (mathematically perfect) clock, which was made entirely of hand carved wooden parts. This clock kept accurate time for decades.


Banneker’s love for learning encouraged him to begin studying astronomy and advanced mathematics from sets of books loaned to him by a neighbor. As a result of these studies, he was able to predict solar and lunar eclipses and became the author of an internationally published almanac. Then, Banneker used his celebrity for the good of Black people: the international recognition of his almanac gave Banneker a platform to fight for the abolishment of slavery. He famously composed a letter addressed to Thomas Jefferson, in which he insisted black Americans possess the same intellectual ability and should be afforded the same opportunities as white Americans. This letter led to an ongoing correspondence between the two men, and led to Banneker receiving a considerable amount of support by abolitionist groups in Maryland and Pennsylvania.


Banneker was also selected to assist Major Pierre L’Enfant to survey and develop the city plans for our nation’s capital, which was later named the District of Columbia. After L’Enfant abruptly quit the project, Benjamin Banneker was able to reproduce the plans – from memory – for the entire city in just 2 days. These plans provided the layout for the streets, buildings, and monuments that still exist in Washington D.C.


Visit the Benjamin Banneker Day website (www.benjaminbannekerday.weebly.com) to learn more about Benjamin Banneker, and how you and your family can participate in this year’s celebration.

Did you celebrate Digital Citizenship Week??? If you didn’t, it’s never too late…



Digital Citizenship is a concept that helps parents and educators understand what children should know and understand in order to use technology appropriately. Not only is it a way to prepare children for a society full of technology, but digital citizenship can also insure that your child creates a digital footprint that can be leveraged for college and career success.

Common Sense is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to helping kids thrive in a world of media and technology. They provide unbiased information, trusted advice, and innovative tools to help them harness the power of media and technology as a positive force in all kids’ lives. The organization has three web portals depending on your point of view: Common Sense for Parents; Common Sense for Educators; and Common Sense for Advocates. Below is just a sampling of some of the tools you can find on these sites. Try them…they are great resources to help our scholars become responsible digital citizens!


Device-Free-Dinner Toolkit. Here are some great tools that you can use to get those devices turned off during dinner so you can have some quality family time.


Social Media Primer. Here is a great resource for learning how to navigate…and how to help your child navigate….social media platforms.


Digital Dilemmas. Here are some fictitious scenarios, based on real-life stories, to spark a conversation at home with your children about digital citizenship.


Parent Q&As. Here is a site that contains some wonderful Q&As from parents–providing guidance and advice about how to manage your child’s digital citizenship.


Video Game Reviews. This is one of the best resources I’ve seen on how to determine if the video game your child wants to play is right for him/her.


Family Media Agreements. Below are links to grade-level agreements you can use to raise good digital citizens.

Family Media Agreements Grades K-5

Family Media Agreement Grades 6-8

Family Media Agreement Grades 9-12


Glossary. Here’s a link to a glossary of digital media terms that parents can use to get more familiar with the digital tools their children might be using.

UCLA’s Exploring Your Universe – Nov. 5th

After our November 5th NSBE Meeting, join UCLA for this family-friendly day of science exploration at UCLA.
SUNDAY, November 5, 2017
12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Night-time activities until 8:00 p.m.
Activities include:
Hands-on Workshops
Scientific Talks
UCLA Planetarium Shows
Comet-making and Bottle Rockets
UCLA Meteorite Gallery
Weather Tours
Physics & Chemistry Demos
and much more!

Exploring Your Universe is made possible by the Division of Physical Sciences, the Mani L. Bhaumik Institute for Theoretical Physics, the UCLA Galactic Center Group, and the UCLA Department of Physics and Astronomy.
Support EYU
Questions? Contact Jennifer Caulfield
jcaulfield@support.ucla.edu or (310) 206-5621

NSBE Region 6 Fall Conference


This year, the NSBE Region 6 Fall Conference is here in Southern California!!!

This is an exciting and wonderful opportunity for our scholars because the Fall Regional Conference is jam-packed with programming designed specifically for our elementary and middle school children. There will be workshops on coding, robotics, tower design, catapulting, prosthetics, 3-D printing, and aircraft design, plus the Science Bowl Olympiad and the Closing Session Banquet. Also, one of the best parts of the conference will be exposing our scholars to the scale of the NSBE organization…they will get to socialize with other NSBE students from throughout Region. So, here are the logistics…

Included in the registration fee: admission to the conference; breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the conference; transportation to the conference; and t-shirts (exclusively for our NSBE Jr. of Southern California scholars). The NSBE Jr. of Southern California chapter will also host a hospitality suite to give our scholars and parents a place to rest and to get a healthy snack during the long day. We wil leave at 8am and return at 9:30pm (after the banquet). Since we are having such a busy Saturday, we will be cancelling our regularly scheduled NSBE meeting on Sunday, November 19th.

Register at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/nsbe-region-6-fall-conference-tickets-39170426801. NSBE Jr. of Southern California members must register by November 1st.

National Fossil Day!!

In honor of Earth Sciences Week, today we celebrate the 8th annual National Fossil Day!!!
National Fossil Day is organized by the National Park Service to promote public awareness and stewardship of fossils, with the goal of inspiring the next generation of paleontologists and fossil enthusiasts.
Fossils are the preserved remains of plants or animals. Just think Jurassic Park and you’re there! There might be all types of remains found in the Earth, but for such remains to be considered fossils, scientists have decided they have to be over 10,000 years old.
There are two main types of fossils, body fossils and trace fossils. Body fossils are the preserved remains of a plant or animal’s body. Trace fossils are the remains of the activity of an animal, such as preserved trackways, footprints, fossilized egg shells, and nests.


Body Fossil
Trace Fossil
You may ask, “How do fossils form?” The way a fossil forms depends on a few things. The most important step is that the remains or traces of life must be buried, the quicker the better. The longer they remain exposed the more likely it is that they will be destroyed by scavengers or by the environment itself.
Imagine a desert versus the bottom of a deep sea… wind blasted sand dunes and hungry scavengers versus still, murky waters where gloopy mud is laid down steadily… where do you think fossils are more likely to form? Apart from burial the other key points are…
  • Hard parts best. Got hard parts? Bones or shells? Then you are more likely to become a fossil because soft bits rot away quickly.
  • Where do you live? If there is sediment like mud or sand being laid down then you have a chance to be buried by it and fossilised.
  • The recipe for success. Once buried there is a chance minerals can start to fill gaps in your remains or even replace them, basically turning them into stone. This is when fossilisation really happens and depends a great deal on what natural minerals are in the sediment.
  • And finally… with luck the rock layer you are preserved in will be eroded and your fossilised remains exposed, ready for the chance to be discovered.

Here you can see a short animation of how a fossil is made. (Credit: osisdesign.co.uk).

Math Institute – First Session…New Location!!!


This Sunday, October 1st, will mark our first session of NSBE Jr. of Southern California’s Math Institute. We will be meeting from 2 to 4pm at our new location (see below).

Aya Medical Training Institute
965 North LaBrea Avenue, Inglewood
(LaBrea & Centinela near Popeye’s Chicken, 2nd floor)



All of the students who took the assessment will be accepted. Remember, the Math Institute is a separate program with an additional fee of $320 per year for NSBE Jr. of Southern California members and $350 for non-members. If you are interested in having your child attend the Math Institute, but have not taken the assessment, or if you have any additional questions, feel free to email Christine Wood.


There Is Value in Failing, Part II

In Part I, we looked the life lessons that come with failure. In this Part II, we’ll examine how to help our children recover when they have failed at something.

There are many ways for your child to recover from failure…once they have accepted that failure is meant to help rather than hinder them. Once they begin down the path of this belief, then they can truly recover from failure. Here are some ways to help.


#1 – Ignore the Debbie Downers

When they fail, there will be people telling them, “I told you so,” and, “You should have listened to me.” They need to ignore them! Remind your child of something that they tried that they ended up loving—like riding a bike or trying a different type of ice cream. Let them know that trying new things is a part of life, but there will always be people in the wings ready to pounce when something has gone wrong. Their challenge will be to watch for those Debbie Downers because they will be silenced by their future success!


#2 – Understand that it’s Okay to Fail

One of the best ways to recover from failure is to understand that it’s quite alright to fail, but it’s not okay to give up. Even if your child has failed and that failure was extremely painful, remind them that it’s not okay to give up. Tell them that they can keep failing over and over again if they have to. Keep on trying until they succeed. Success will taste so much sweeter when they reach it. Remember, it’s not true failure unless they throw in that proverbial towel and wholeheartedly give up forever.


#3 – Using Failure as Leverage

When your child has failed in life, teach them to use it as leverage to recover from it and to propel forward. Teach them that they leverage something by using it to help them go further, like a rope when they are mountain climbing! To help them leverage their failures, have them journal the experience.

  • Write out what they failed at and why they failed.
  • Did they have a defined goal?
  • What could they have done differently?
  • How will they tackle those failures in the future when they are faced with them again?
  • How will they learn from this experience to help shape a brighter future?

Failure can be a great a tool to help them grow. It isn’t the end of the road as long as they don’t give up. If they still believe in their goals, they can use the failure as leverage to push past their limitations.


#4 – Revisit Your Goals

In general, one huge thing to consider after a big disappointment is whether you had a clear and concrete goal. Ask your child, “Was the goal SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-focused, and Time-bound)? Did you visualize your goal in your mind?” Sometimes, failure results from not setting good goals, or by not tracking and analyzing them on a monthly, weekly, or daily basis. To recover from failure, help them revisit their goals and redefine them.


#5 – Create a MAP

Want to recover from failure? Create a MAP – a Massive Action Plan. Take their goals and help them lay out a plan as to how they are going to achieve them. What will they do in the face of failure next time? When children have a MAP, they have a systematic way of achieving the goals that they set for themselves. Help them learn to set a solid action plan that will help them push past the stumbling blocks of life, and watch as they slowly but surely recover from any setbacks, upsets, or failures.