Heritage teacher flies to the stratosphere with NASA
By Terri Hill
Six years of applications, interviews, classes, planning, and waiting culminated last week for Wendi Rodriguez, science teacher at The Heritage School in Phelan, and her teammate Marie Thornsberry of Hughbanks Elementary in Rialto, as they completed two flights on board NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), known as the world’s largest flying telescope. Rodriguez and Thornsberry were among 22 educators competitively selected to participate in NASA’s professional development program, Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors. According to a NASA press release, “Rodriguez and Thornsberry were required to take a graduate-level astronomy course before their flights with NASA researchers studying planets, comets, astrochemistry, star formation, and the Galactic Center at infrared wavelengths. Then the educators completed two, 10-hour, overnight science missions on board the flying observatory.” Rodriguez explained this was the first flight to take off as early as 1:30 – 2:30 p.m., with the intention of viewing Mars and Venus at sunset. Another target during their flight was a star inside Orion’s Belt. SOFIA studies planets, comets, galaxies, supernovae, and star formation using infrared technology and providing “data that cannot be obtained by any other current astronomical facility on the ground or in space.” (NASA) Rodriguez’s enthusiasm for sharing her experience is infectious, and sharing the knowledge is what the Ambassador program is about. She shared some of her personal thoughts and experiences in an email this week, in answer to questions posed by this reporter. (A) water bottle experiment was selected by the students. The challenge was to flip a water bottle so it does a 360 in the air and lands standing up. The students worked on finding the best water bottle with the perfect amount of water to flip successfully. Once they did that, we took the experiment to SOFIA and flipped the water bottle on the ground, and again at 40,000 feet. We did another experiment with a weight (I used my husband Mario’s mother’s class ring) on a digital scale. The weight of the ring changed as the forces on the observatory changed! It was a quick experiment that gave us a lot of information on forces. It was special for me to have a piece of Mario on SOFIA with me! Specific results are still property of NASA and cannot be shared until they review the data. The scientists on board were happy with the preliminary data on Mars and Venus. Physically, the observatory flew as smooth (or better) than a commercial plane, but it was loud in the cabin. We had to wear head phones to hear and speak to each other. It was a little cooler on board as well. Cabin temperature was cooler due to the computers and experimental devices on board. Cabin pressure was the same as a commercial flight. Personally, I was honored to be a part of the SOFIA missions last week. I am so thankful for the experience and now want to share it with anyone interested! I learned more in the past week than I have in a very long time. It was great to be able to ask questions to the scientists and engineers on board, everyone was extremely enthusiastic and very willing to share their information. I missed my husband terribly but he was a huge support through this entire process. On the afternoon of my 2nd flight, Mario, (and children) Salina, and Kyle came to Palmdale to watch SOFIA take off. They brought signs for me to see from the observatory. I was able to take pictures of them while they were taking pictures of me! Mario also let the students at Heritage know when I would be flying and they all went outside to see SOFIA in the air! I had to ask Wendi, “Is it as cool to don your new NASA jacket as it looks?” Her response, “It’s so cool! And it starts so many more conversations about the science!”
Updates on water, road safety at SJUSD Board meeting By Donna Alvarez
Snowline Joint Unified School (SJUSD) Board Meeting January 24, 2017 had a full agenda concerning updates on the district’s collaboration with Sheep Creek Mutual Water Company (SC) and Phelan Pinion Hills Community Services District (CSD), new tracks of homes pending development in Victorville affecting SJUSD, Lions Club Student Speaker Contest, staff retirement incentives and road safety awareness for students and staff. The Timberline Lions Club informed the school board about the club’s upcoming Student Speaker Contest. This event is for any junior or senior student in the Tri-Community (Serrano and Chaparral High Schools, Eagle Summit, Charter schools and home schooled students). See corresponding article. Superintendent Ryan Holman, updated the board on the continued collaboration between Snowline Joint Unified School District (SJUSD), SC Water and the CSD regarding the water supply and fire protection for the district’s 80-acre parcel of land that includes Serrano High School, Chaparral High School, Eagle Summit, Pinion Mesa Middle School and the Snowline District Office. Holman stated that he and the school board are in contact with Victorville’s city planner, Scott Webb, regarding the updates on plans for new tracks of homes to be developed. SJUSD wants to keep abreast of these developments and their effect on the district. Board member comments began with student member, Matt McHenry, who stated that Serrano High School is in the second semester with its Student Senate. The membership has risen from 10 students first semester to 55 students second semester. McHenry further reported on the activities of the military club. It is preparing to take students to a Military Preparation Activity at Fort Irwin. The date of the activity is pending. Assistant Superintendent, Karen Winkler, stated that dental and vision plans will be added to the employees’ health care coverage. Executive Assistant, Nancy Stapp, stated that she has been working with the support staff regarding the “Kindness Matters” program. The program has been well received. Assistant Superintendent, Dennis Zimmerman, updated the board on the retirement incentive. So far, 47 staff have submitted their retirement plans. The final date for applications is February 1, 2017. Holman stated that SJUSD will be participating in eight Southern California Job Fairs. Replacements of those teachers retiring begin first with voluntary transfers and then the new incoming teachers. He, also, stated that there is a teacher shortage throughout the United States. Holman thanked Karen Winkler for helping him with early morning drives taken around the district where both are looking for specific hazardous driving conditions such as black ice, pot holes, etc. Road safety affects the district school buses, student drivers, parents and staff. The decision to close schools due to unsafe driving conditions is made based on the safety of student drivers. The entire school board offered its sincerest condolences to the family of 21-year old Ryan Kistner, who recently passed away of bone cancer. Ryan was a student at SJUSD from kindergarten through eighth grade and then was a student and football player at Oak Hills High School. He will be greatly missed. His mother, Katie Kistner, is the secretary for Assistant Principal Lisa Hanson at Serrano High School.
Farmers Market was a culinary experience
By Vicky Rinek Phelan community center was the place to be on Monday January 30th. The Phelan Pinon Hills CSD and the Farmers Market has teamed up with Kaiser Permanente to bring an unusual cooking class to the Tri-Community. The program shares the health benefits of a whole food, plant-based diet, and the chef demonstrated delicious dishes made with veggies, whole grains, nuts and fruit from local famers. For one hour Chef Tammy Lujan demonstrated recipes and techniques for two dishes. Tammy put on an engaging and informative cooking demonstration. She utilized seasonal fruits and vegetables available at the Phelan Farmers Market. The two dishes, one a fruit salad and another a vegetable salad with added shrimp, both were prepared in front of the spectators (except the shrimp was precooked). Tammy emphasized that when ever possible she utilizes the fresh produce from the Farmers Market. After observing the demonstration, spectators received a sample of the salads to taste as well as recipe cards for that day’s dishes. The Shrimp and Orzo Garden Salad was delicious and the fruit salad with a variety of citrus fruit was refreshing. The cooking class has become a popular event. The Senior Center was packed with an enthusiastic group of people of all ages. And as an added surprise each person in attendance received vouchers valued at $25 toward the purchase of fresh produce at the Farmers market. The vouchers are good for next three weeks. Vouchers were funded through a grant from Kaiser. Kaiser Permanente and PPHCSD sponsored the monthly class. It serves as an effort to promote healthier eating by showing you how to prepare healthier snacks and meals for yourself and your family. The event is centered around nutrition, and on having fun with cooking too. Public cooking demonstrations take place at 4:00 p.m. on the last Monday of the month. Phelan Farmer’s Market Association operates the market, which is held rain or shine on every Monday. Due to limited seating, pre-registration is suggested by calling 760-868-1212 or visit their facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/PhelanCertifiedFarmersMarket/ The Phelan Farmers Market is located on Warbler Rd at Sheep Creek Rd. open 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM. The next cooking class is scheduled for February 27. This month’s class was beyond capacity, so they are asking that you please RSVP and if you can’t make it please call and cancel as soon as you can. Shrimp and Orzo Garden Salad Ingredients: Angels Farm broccoli - 1 cup cut floret bite size Angels Farm cauliflower - 1 cup cut floret bite size Angels Farm carrots - 1/2 cup grated or shredded Angels Farm celery - 2 stalks chopeed finely Angels Farm green onions - 3 chopped Parmigiano-Reggiano garlic olives - 1/2 cup halved Moonstruck Farms sun dried tomatoes - 1/3 cup cut finely Angels Farm parsley - 1/4 cup to one handful finely chopped 2 1/2 cups of cooked orzo pasta 1 lb cooked shrimp (roasting the shrimp works well) Moonstruck Farms Cara Cara vinegar - 1 cup or to taste Salt and Pepper to taste Preparation: Chop all veggies as called for and place in bowl along with shredded carrots and halved olives. Cook the orzo pasta as called for on box. Drain the pasta and place directly into veggie mixture. Add cooked shrimp and vinegar and toss with parsley and salt and pepper. Enjoy!