Monday, March 30, 2015

Spring Break Camp - Rainforests and Tech Think Tank

Rainforest (Spring Break)
Apr 6-10, 2015
M, Tu, W, Th, F 8:00am-10:00am
Gr K-Gr 2

Join us on a safari through the rainforests and discover leaves that grow as big as elephants’ ears, stick bugs the size of Chihuahuas, and beetles that weigh as much as a double cheeseburger! Along our safari, students will discover the amazing plants and animals found within the rainforest and discuss the ecological implications of deforestation. Parents, don‘t worry! We will keep our distance from poisonous dart frogs and anacondas!

Additional Info: Partial day, Coed

Tech Think Tank (Spring Break)
Apr 6-10, 2015
M, Tu, W, Th, F 1:00pm-3:00pm
Gr 3-Gr 6

Children will explore technology they have never dreamed of, including optical systems designed to control and manipulate laser beams, as well as the basics of electronic circuits and their wiring. They’ll build their own microscopes, learn the principles behind engineering and design, and put them to the test with an in-class bridge-building competition! Get ready to play MacGyver as...more

Additional Info: Partial day, Coed

For more information, please visit

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Spring Break Camp - Fraction Frenzy

Fraction Frenzy
(Spring Break)
Apr 6-10, 2015
M, Tu, W, Th, F 10:30am-12:30pm
Gr 3-Gr 7

Did you know that three out of two people have trouble with fractions? Joking aside ... fractions are everywhere we look. This class will help students build a foundation and learn how to use fractions in real world situations, such as music, sports, and cooking. Our final challenge: students will cook their favorite recipe - all in the name of math! 

Additional Info: Partial day, Coed 

For more information, please visit

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Where Did Earth’s Water Come From? - Zachary Metz

Water covers over 70% of the Earth, cycling from the oceans and rivers to the clouds and back again. It even makes up about 60% of our bodies. But in the rest of the solar system, liquid water is almost impossible to find. So how did our planet end up with so much of this substance? And where did it come from? Zachary Metz outlines the ancient origins of water on Earth.

Lesson by Zachary Metz, animation by The Moving Company Animation Studio.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Our Extraordinary Team : Serge Veretennikov

Serge Veretennikov is a UC Davis Alumni with a B.S. in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior. He is beginning medical school at the UC Davis School of Medicine in the fall of 2015. Serge believes his life purpose is to be a physician and later to teach at a medical school.

As a Russian immigrant, Serge understands the challenges many ELL children face in their attempt to stay motivated in school. His educational experience shows that doing well in school is something everyone can achieve as long as they work hard and do not give up.

He was one of the co-founders and later president of Tutors for a Change, a UC Davis organization that provides tutoring services to underserved high schools in the Sacramento area. These experiences have given him the opportunity to interact with and tutor individuals from various backgrounds. As a tutor, Serge connects with each and every one of his students to not just promote learning, but also to show that it can be fun. His philosophy is to look at each child as a unique individual before addressing him or her as a student.

He emphasizes the need for a balanced life when interacting with his students. “It is important to enjoy life and have family time along with work and another commitments.”

What is one surprising fact about you? 

One surprising fact that people do not know, until the meet me, is that I am 6'7".

If you had to eat one food for the rest of your life, what would you choose? 


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Law of Conservation of Mass - Todd Ramsey

Everything in our universe has mass — from the smallest atom to the largest star. But the amount of mass has remained constant throughout existence even during the birth and death of stars, planets and you. How can the universe grow while maintaining its mass? Todd Ramsey answers that question by unravelling the law of conservation of mass.

 Lesson by Todd Ramsey, animation by Vegso/Banyai.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Our Extraordinary Team : Christopher Strazzo

As the oldest of six kids, Chris grew up being very comfortable around children. From working with his siblings on homework and volunteering as a science camp counselor in high school, teaching was a natural progression. He recently received his Multiple Subject teaching credential from U.C. Davis. Prior to receiving his credential, Chris worked as a tutor in a before and after school program in Sacramento, where he worked with elementary and middle school students with diverse backgrounds and various skill levels.

He looks forward to eventually having his own classroom where he will strive for a safe learning environment in which students can do work that challenges them. Chris wants students to understand that learning is not problems on a page, or something that happens only at school while at a desk, but a process of opening their eyes to the amazing things that are all around them and wondering about them. As an example, he likes to take students outside to look at trees and grass when they study photosynthesis and measure and calculate the area of their playground to see some of the real world applications for the knowledge they are learning.

In his free time, he enjoys surfing the web, writing (mostly short stories), reading, hiking or camping and the occasional video game.

What is on our nightstand?

Currently, my bookshelf doubles as a nightstand and on top of it I have: an astrolabe, some decorative bottles, an LED candle, a leather-bound journal, a miniature Spartan helmet, and a smattering of other knick knacks and odds and ends.

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what 3 items would you bring with you?

If I was stranded on a desert island, I’d bring a book (either the complete works of Shakespeare or my favorite, Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys), a nice sharp knife, and my brother (he’s very handy and would likely figure out how to have us set up - Swiss Family Robinson style).

Why Sitting is Bad for You - Murat Dalkilinç

Sitting down for brief periods can help us recover from stress or recuperate from exercise. But nowadays, our lifestyles make us sit much more than we move around. Are our bodies built for such a sedentary existence? Murat Dalkilinç investigates the hidden risks of sitting down.

Lesson by Murat Dalkilinç, animation by Oxbow Creative.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Our Extraordinary Team : Bethany Baldwin-Pulcini

Bachelor of Science in Physics with an emphasis in Astrophysics, to be completed in 2015.

Presently a fourth year undergraduate at the University of California, Davis, Bethany specializes in tutoring physics and math at all levels. Science has been her favorite subject for as long as she can remember. Here at The Academy, she hopes to pass on her enthusiasm for math, since for some it can be the least-loved subject of them all. She starting tutoring with the Physics Club at UC Davis in 2013; her favorite part of tutoring is seeing a student’s face when they get excited about understanding something new!

Bethany is currently an undergraduate research assistant at UC Davis with the Nuclear Physics Group. There, she models heavy ion collisions from data produced by research institutions, such as CERN in Switzerland and Brookhaven National Lab in New York. It was through working with the group that she discovered her love for computer programming and logic problems.

After graduation, Bethany plans to return to graduate school to pursue a degree in an engineering discipline, but until then, she will continue to share her passion for science and math with students of all ages.

What is on your nightstand?

My nightstand holds a box of all the mail I haven't gotten around to looking at yet, as well as scented candles. I love things that smell good.

If you had to eat one food for the rest of your life, what would you choose?

I would definitely pick pizza, as long as I could switch the toppings. I will never, ever get tired of pizza!

Friday, March 6, 2015

When to Hire a Tutor For Your Child

More parents today see tutoring as a natural add-on to their child's classroom learning. They realize even top schools can't focus individually on their child. And with private lessons in athletics and music so common, a private tutor for math, science or other subjects often makes good sense. Here are common times when hiring a tutor for your child is smart.

Your child is struggling in a subject or two.

If algebra class is 50 minutes but your son needs 60 minutes to learn the concept, he's going to fall behind in algebra and get discouraged. A math tutor will help the child who needs a little extra time. Tutors also re-teach past concepts and answer questions that kids are reluctant to ask in class. Tutors are expert in helping kids regain the motivation and confidence to succeed in math, science, writing, Spanish, or other classes.

Your child would benefit from homework and organization help.

Parents often seek a tutor for their child who isn't naturally organized. Some kids just need more supervision to get all their homework done to a high level. A 60-minute nightly tutoring session will nudge apathetic or scattered kids to work to their potential. Tutors will help kids manage due dates, get kids un-stuck by clarifying ideas or answering questions, and quality-check homework assignments.

Your child wants to achieve a goal or fulfill a hope.

Some families have a specific goal in mind when they start with a tutor. They want to raise a C to an A in calculus, or boost an SAT score 150 points. Other families have more abstract goals. They wish their child liked school more, or sympathize with a child who is trying hard but seeing only mediocre results. A tutor will listen to your hopes, and create a plan to help your child succeed.

You feel your child can improve study skills and test taking.

Many kids study the same way each year. But what works in 5th grade isn't enough in 7th grade. And the big leap from junior high to high school demands an upgrade in study skills. Kids with lagging study skills benefit immediately from a tutor who helps them increase homework time, pay attention to details, prepare for tests, and read more thoughtfully. A tutor can also ease test anxiety by teaching test-taking skills.

You hope to side-step a bad family dynamic, or provide stability.

By the teenage years, kids often will listen to any adult other than their parents. If that's the case, it's better for the child's grades (and family happiness) to bring in a tutor and remove the parent-child dynamic from the picture. Tutors understand teens and how to motivate them. And with younger children, parents can be too involved - doing all the homework themselves. A tutor gently returns responsibility to the child, while still providing consistency and support.

You have discovered your child likes to be tutored.

Parents often hire a tutor for a quick fix - usually to help their child bring up a grade in a tough class. But they'll continue with tutoring for years because their child really likes it. The one-on-one sessions help kids master even the hardest material, and signal that the family prioritizes their school success. Kids look forward to bringing home great test results, and to having undivided attention as they work on school assignments.

With today's school cutbacks, it's likely that more parents will try a private tutor and discover the benefits. Tutors are a smart way to ensure your children get the top education they need and deserve for later success in college and life.

Jessie Brumfiel is director of Spark Tutors (, a K-12 academic tutoring and SAT test prep company in Santa Barbara, CA.
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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Sonic Boom Problem - Katerina Kaouri

Objects that fly faster than the speed of sound (like really fast planes) create a shock wave accompanied by a thunder-like noise: the sonic boom. These epic sounds can cause distress to people and animals and even damage nearby buildings. Katerina Kaouri details how scientists use math to predict sonic booms' paths in the atmosphere, where they will land, and how loud they will be.

Lesson by Katerina Kaouri, animation by Anton Bogaty.