Tech tacks: Gorge STEM efforts stay on course

The whole STEM effort in the Gorge took a couple of steps forward this week.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics is an integrated educational approach that requires school-community participation, and continues to get it.

Two Hood River teams were among 11 First Lego League teams to advance to state (story, page A10) and Jeff Blackman received a well-deserved honor (page A1).

In the past five years the GTA has quietly developed a variety of cooperative efforts among tech companies of the region, with a major emphasis on fostering industry-to-school connections.

Gorge Technology Alliance members have enthusiastically embraced the idea of working directly with kids in hands-on programs such as First Lego League.

The Gorge has seen no more hard-working individual in this realm than Jeff Blackman, the robotics and electric car teacher at HRVHS.

He was honored for his inspiration and work in starting a robotics and engineering revolution that has affected schools throughout the Gorge, according to Jessica Metta, director of Gorge Technology Alliance.

Finalists for the Tech Leader of the Year included Rep. Mark Johnson of Hood River for his work in the Oregon legislature to support STEM education and the tech industry of the Gorge; Ken Levy, CEO and co-founder of 4-Tell Inc., for his leadership and inspiration at the helm of this fast-growing Gorge company; and Andy Mack, president and owner of Zepher Inc., for his leadership of the Bingen-based company and involvement with GORGE Junior Sailing Program for Kids.

Meanwhile, the FLL teams advance to state Jan. 18 or 19 in Hillsboro. Once school resumes after the winter break, the FLL kids will be back to their computers and Legos, designing and perfecting their programs for the challenges devised at state, and Blackman and his high school robotics teams will gear up to host regional competition at HRVHS Jan. 11.

As ever, the programs can use adult participation; no tech or engineering experience is necessary.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



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