Posts Tagged ‘Museum’

The Tech Challenge 2014 – Harnessing the Wind


Hundreds of teams of students from grades 5-6 and 9-12 put their original innovations the test today, the first day of competition at The Tech Challenge 2014 presented by Cisco, the Bay Area’s largest youth design-challenge competition. The “Bad News Bears” team  of five from St. Martin of Tours first place for “Best Overall Solution” and emphasized perseverance and thinking big as keys to success, “No matter how big the challenge, if you work hard, anything is possible,” said Connor Hearney, 11. Teammate Michael Woo, 11, echoed the same sentiment, “Every problem has a solution.”

The two-day event concludes Sunday, April 13 when students in grades 7-8 take the stage and present their creative devices.

One of The Tech’s deepest beliefs is that everyone is born to be a problem solver,” said Museum President Tim Ritchie. “The Tech Challenge gives participants an opportunity to experience and show how innovative they can be.

Every year, the annual team design-challenge presents participants with a hands-on project geared to solving a real-world problem. This year’s challenge, Harnessing the Wind, saw students use the power of wind to move water to the people who need it most. Participants revealed their entrepreneurial spirits and tried their hand at utilizing the wind as a plausible solution to lowering the total energy consumption in the moving and processing of water.

The Tech Challenge, a signature program of The Tech, provides months of team learning in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and reinforces 21st-century skills of creativity, problem solving, design, teamwork, leadership, presentation, risk-taking, perseverance, and learning from failure.

The ingenuity and commitment exemplified by students at The Tech Challenge is extraordinary,” said Jessica Graham, Cisco’s Community Relations Manager. “Our Cisco volunteers here today welcome the opportunity to inspire the next generation of innovators.

In all, 1,200 students stepped up to the challenge to use the renewable energy source for this year’s competition now in its 27th year. Teams competed for several titles ranging from “Most Sustainable” to “Best Engineering Design” to “Best Prototyping.” Every participant also received a medal, T-shirt, water bottle, and team photo for their hard work, ingenuity and dedication.

For decades, The Tech Challenge has allowed some 13,500 young girls and boys throughout California and other regions to hone their creativity and innovation on a variety of scenarios including building devices to explore Mars craters, fight wildfires, rescue earthquake victims, collect samples in the rainforest, and last year to deploy instruments to an asteroid.

The top award – “Best Overall Solution” – was awarded to three teams in each of the 5th-6th and 9th-12th grade divisions. Best Overall Solution encompasses device performance, engineering and design, style and presentation, and the scientific process. AND THE 2014 WINNERS ARE…

5th-6th grade Division

1st Place

  • Bad News Bears
  • Team # 133
  •  St. Martin of Tours

2nd Place

  • FOuR the WINdz 
  • Team # 15
  •  John Sinnott Elementary School

3rd Place

  • iSolve
  • Team # 372
  • Carden Day School of San Jose, Hyde Middle School, and Kennedy Middle school in Cupertino

9th-12th grade Division

1st Place

  • H2I – Happy to Innovate
  • Team # 72
  •  Fremont Home School Team

2nd Place

  • The Airbenders
  • Team # 322
  • Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula

3rd Place

  • MEKTech
  • Team # 0
  • Head-Royce School

Other teams took home prizes for their achievement in Engineering Design, Spirit, Device Performance, Sportsmanship and Best Use of Cardboard and Duct Tape. View the complete list of winners.

For more information on The Tech Challenge, visit:


2014 The Tech Challenge sponsors


  • Cisco Systems, Inc.


  •  Aruba Networks
  •  SAP 


  • EMC2
  • Intel
  •  Motorola Solutions Foundation 


  • Fairchild Semiconductor
  • Lockheed Martin
  • TE Connectivity


About The Tech Museum of Innovation
The Tech is a hands-on technology and science museum for people of all ages and backgrounds. The museum—located in the Capital of Silicon Valley —is a non-profit, experiential learning resource established to engage people in exploring and experiencing applied technologies affecting their lives. Through programs such as The Tech Challenge presented by Cisco, our annual team-design competition for youth, and internationally renowned program to honor technology benefiting humanity, The Tech Awards presented by Applied Materials, The Tech endeavors to inspire the innovator in everyone.



Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum

I visited the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum last weekend so I could see two independent films that were playing Saturday night: Around the Bay, by Bay Area filmmaker Alejandro Adams, and Passion Flower, a short film by Tennessean (soon to be Bay Arean) Jarrod Whaley.

Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum

Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum

The museum is located on Niles Boulevard in Fremont and there is free parking on the street. As soon as I walked through the front doors the friendly museum docents asked if they could give me a tour. The theater was built in the 1920s and was the first movie theater in Fremont. Soon business was booming so nicely that a newer, bigger theater was built next door and Niles was closed down. During the next 80 years it spent time as a dance hall, photography studio, and sometimes just a storage room. The newer theater burned down in the 1950s but it wasn’t until 2004 that the Niles was bought by its current owners and in 2005 they opened up the theater.

Inside the theater, Museum in back

Inside the theater, Museum in back

The theater holds about 80 wooden chairs with comfy leather cushions. There is a piano where live music is played for many of the silent films. It had never occurred to me that the old silent films had live music accompaniment – but duh. If they could record music, they would have sound, right? I found that an interesting silly fact that I should have already known. The actual museum part is in the back of the theater and there you can find several old style cameras and projectors along with many photographs and other film paraphernalia. The gift shop is in the lobby and there are many books, pictures and cards to look at.

Old projectors in the museum

Old projectors in the museum

Their schedule of silent films varies so you should check their website for specific days, or give them a call. The 12th Annual Broncho Billy Silent Film Festival is coming up on June 26-28 and it is recommended that you pre-order tickets. June is also Independent Filmmakers Month and the theater will be visited by John Korty, Les Blank, and the Scary Cow Short Films Show among others. You can also rent the museum and theater for lecture discussions, musical concerts or a movie showing for family and friends – they even have the original 1933 King Kong film!

Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum
Open: Noon – 4PM Saturday and Sunday
Telephone (510)494-1411
37417 Niles Boulevard
Fremont, CA 94536

Free Museum Admission for Mother’s Day

Hey, why not do something Mom wants to do for Mother’s day? Koret Museum Days: HomeThe Koret Foundation is going to make it easy with free admission to 17 museums in the Bay Area on May 10 for Mother’s day.

San Jose museums include:

See the full list of museums here. No ticketing is necessary, but you can send a free e-card inviting someone special to join you for a day at the museum.

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