Natomas High Student Engineering Team

Natomas High Student Engineering Team

Wins $1,500 Top Prize in Bridge Building Contest


Let's cut to the chase: They won -- $1,500!

But we're getting ahead of ourselves ..

The challenge for Natomas High Nighthawk engineering students Eric Zizumbo, Carlos Rocha and Jesus Venegas was to build a balsa wood bridge that is arched and weighs little but carries a lot of weight to qualify for the 2017 California Bridge Building Competition.

Along the way, the Nighthawk team had to use computer software to design their bridge, submit scaled design drawings and data tables, and explain scientific principles behind their design, challenges encountered, solutions reached, and lessons learned. Recently, the three-student Natomas High team was selected as one of three finalists to make a verbal presentation and have their entry judged and tested Jan. 28 before a panel of industry professionals.

Drumroll, please...

They aced it! Zizumbo, Rocha and Venegas finished first, taking home $500 apiece in the competition by the PREP Foundation, a non-profit group promoting science, technology, engineering and math.

Kim Knestrick, Natomas High engineering teacher, said lessons learned by the three 11th-graders in this bridge building competition and in Nighthawk engineering classes range from problem solving to how trusses are made and how structures are affected by compression forces and tension forces. All will serve Zizumbo, Rocha and Venegas well in college, she said.

"This is civil engineering," Knestrick said. "This is how they get started. They'll do the exact same thing at college. ... This was a huge learning experience." Read more here.




Folsom Zoo Engineering Project Kicks-Off for 2016-17

In partnership with the Folsom Zoo Sanctuary, teachers and engineers came together for a training day on the Folsom Zoo Engineering Project Friday, October 14, 2016. 

Together participants took a guided engineering tour through the zoo sanctuary where they met with zoo personal, learned about the needs of the animals, and received information about the various levels involved in the zoo engineering project.  Teachers who participated in the pilot project last year described their experiences as well as the experiences of their students. CRANE Engineering Coordinator John Agostinelli emphasized there were no failures in these project. "Every step of the way students are learning about real-life problems and developing real-life solutions."

This year the students will be working with engineers from the Professional Engineers in California Government who will be matched to the classroom projects and collaborate on possible real-world solutions with the students. 

For a glimpse of the project, follow the link to:


Kids and experts blend health and tech in new CTE program

Cabinet Report

OCTOBER 03, 2016

Kids and experts blend health and tech in new CTE program

by Alisha Kirby

(Calif.) Between the sudden shortness of breath, racing heart and shaking hands can be a moment of clarity where one can pick up the phone and, in just a few taps, find breathing exercises and simple steps to help push through a panic attack.

As part of a growing effort to boost kids’ exposure to real-world problem solving, students in Sacramento are building similar smart phone applications to help those in their community struggling with mental health issues.

Much of the project was funded through California’s Career Pathways Trust grant which allocates funds for the expansion or creation of high-quality career technical education courses.

“The whole point of that grant is to make sure that the money is going toward high growth, high skill and high wage jobs–and you can see just from looking at the headlines in the papers the last few years that mental health is a huge area of interest because it’s an area of high need both locally and nationwide,” said Darrell Parsons, coordinator for Health-Biological Pathways for the Capital Region Academies for the Next Economy, a consortium of districts and county education offices involved with the program which promotes CTE pathways.

“These are kids who have self-selected these health and computer technology pathways who are seeing practical applications, gaining experience, and having opportunities to interact with real professionals and folks at the post-secondary level so that they can also build those relationships,” Parsons said in an interview.

Districts across the country have increasingly begun to implement CTE programs that aim to meet the needs of their local communities. High school-level firefighting programs were developed in Maine to train and recruit young people for short staffed stations; Massachusetts schools have partnered with local farms and community colleges to create career pathways in sustainable agriculture and food systems; and districts in Ohio, South Carolina and Texas have all implemented programs in areas including aerospace and defense, technology and comprehensive health care professions.

In California, funding for schools to improve career technical education has drastically increased since the Legislature created the Career Pathways Trust program. Allocations of $250 million were made available in each of the 2013-14 and 2014-15 state budgets, with an additional $900 million approved over three years for a CTE Instructional Grant program in the 2015 budget.

The Psych-Tech App Development Project partners approximately 50 local high school students with the Sacramento State University’s psychology department, Capital Region Academies for the Next Economy, and professionals in the field of psychology.

Through the project, students participating in their schools’ health or computer technology pathway programs began creating apps last week that can act as an instant resource for people experiencing a mental health crisis or those trying to help someone facing a mental health issue.

Topics were chosen by the students who then teamed up to work with mentors from the Sacramento State psychology department and professionals working in the community. Over the next six weeks, some will focus on issues common among adolescents such as bullying, anxiety, stress, eating disorders or depression, while others looked into helping those in the broader community who suffer from conditions including obsessive compulsive disorder or epilepsy, according to Parsons.

Proponents of CTE say such programs lead to greater rates of postsecondary persistence while also providing critical experience that better prepares students to thrive in the current economy.

“We’ve known for decades now that kids need contextualization of their instruction, so why teach them solely out of a textbook when we can have them do something like develop a mobile app or other tech project of of their choosing?” Parsons asked. “There’s a growing effort in schools all across the country to blend different industry sectors, but I think this blend of mental health and mobile technology is unique, and the goal really is to just knock down some of those silos and have it be more like the real world.”

Ground Breaking Psych-Tech App Development Project Engages Students and Community Organizations in Problem-Solving Through Education

Unique collaboration between students, faculty and community organizations provides hands-on experience and training while raising awareness of mental health issues.

On September 30, 2016, approximately 50 Sacramento area high school students will meet on the Sacramento State University campus and begin a process of developing mobile applications to meet community mental health needs. Students will be back on campus to present their apps at a November 18 conference. This first-of-its-kind endeavor has been dubbed the “Psych-Tech App Development Project” and is being sponsored and organized by the Department of Psychology at Sacramento State University, Capital Region Academies for the Next Economy (CRANE) and the Sacramento Valley Psychological Association (SVPA).

All of the high school students participating in the project are from health or computer technology pathway programs at their local schools. The students will work in groups and be mentored by Sacramento State University students. One of the unique aspects of this project is that each group of high school students will be mentored by university students studying psychology as well as students pursuing computer science degrees.

“Having mobile apps available for a situation as time-critical as a mental health episode can provide instant resources for those in need--either the person experiencing a mental health crisis or those trying to help the person facing a mental health issue,” said Darrell Parsons, CRANE Coordinator for Health-Biological Pathways. “It makes sense to bring both the mental health and technical sides of this equation together from the beginning to ensure the students’ solutions are as effective and practical as possible.”

In addition to being paired with mentors who will assist in the design process and technical execution, the high school students will participate in a full day of activities that allows students to engage in social and emotional learning activities and receive an overview of current issues in psychology, mental health, and technology.

“The high school students will be able to work directly with university students in psychology who are quite knowledgeable on social and emotional learning and mental health topics,” said Dr. Greg Kim, Professor of Psychology and Director of the Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Project at Sacramento State. “We will spend the next six weeks working with these student leaders on developing apps that can facilitate greater awareness and responsiveness to critical mental health issues in our communities.”

Dr. Daniel Rockers, the president of the SVPA and originator of the Psych-Tech concept, will give opening remarks at the September 30 event while he and fellow SVPA psychologists will provide professional expertise on mental health issues to the Psych-Tech students.

“Psych-Tech students could provide mobile apps that serve an incredible need in our region for increased mental health awareness and resources,” said Dr. Rockers. “SVPA has worked with CRANE and Sacramento State in the past to help high school students develop public service announcements on mental health issues. We are excited to take this next step with CRANE and Sacramento State in developing a new generation of mental health leaders willing to give back to society and contribute in meaningful ways.”

In addition to helping raise awareness of mental health issues, the Psych-Tech App Development Project is giving important hands-on experience to high school students as well as fostering important collaboration opportunities between high schools, colleges and area industry representatives. These kinds of collaborative efforts help students identify and engage college and career pathways earlier, provide critical experience, and often lead to greater rates of postsecondary persistence.

“Students are going to be a lot more successful in today’s ever-changing economy if we, as educators, break down the barriers between high school, college and the working world and give students the skills and information they need to make college and career choices sooner, ” said Carey Shannon, a teacher with the Placer County Office of Education whose students are participating in Psych-Tech. “Projects like this one are critical if we are going to truly prepare students to thrive in the current economy and expose them to real-world challenges they can help solve.”


The Capital Region Academies for the Next Economy (CRANE) is a consortium of 22 school districts and county offices of education in the Sacramento region, focused on the mission to provide students with rigorous academic and career pathways that are linked to economic and labor market needs.

About SVPA

The Sacramento Valley Psychological Association (SVPA) promotes education, advocacy, and networking opportunities for psychologists to advance our field and benefit our community. We are a regional Chapter of the California Psychological Association (CPA) representing psychologists throughout the greater Sacramento Valley area. We encourage professionals, legislators, and the public to learn more about the resources we extend to our community.

About Sacramento State University Department of Psychology

We seek to educate, research, and practice in the field of psychology with dedication and enthusiasm. We facilitate students’ intellectual and personal growth. We prepare students for graduate studies, the workforce, managing citizenship responsibilities and life demands. We advance the many areas of our discipline through active and creative scholarship. We serve diverse communities through meaningful collaborations with people and organizations. Through teaching, scholarship, and service we promote human equity, health and well-being, effective functioning, and respect for diversity.

Dignity Health Providing Meaningful Opportunity for CRANE Students

Dignity Health, through the leadership of their Talent Acquisition team of Kristie Griffin and Ramina Kiryakous, have launched a program allowing CRANE health care pathway students to learn and volunteer at the Imaging Center of Mercy San Juan Hospital. Students from throughout the CRANE Consortium will be able to work side-by-side with Dignity medical professionals for the benefit of both the students and the hospital.

Marty Khatib, the Director of Imaging Services at Mercy San Juan, has designed a system for CRANE students to assist at the Imaging Center. Once students become knowledgable about the procedures carried out at the center, they will greet patients and explain to them what to expect during their procedures. Dignity officials have learned that patient satisfaction ratings have moved toward 100 percent through the aid of these greeting services. This program will be a benefit to all involved--patients, the hospital, and students. 

Health care pathway students from Oakmont High School, CTE Works from the Placer County Office of Education, Antelope High School and El Dorado High School are initially partnering with Dignity to launch the program. Dignity has made it clear that they will have the need and capacity for further partnerships with high schools around the region in the future. 

Kudos to Dignity Health for seeing the benefit of this program for themselves, their patients, and health care students!

Learning Fun with the Folsom Zoo

Thanks to generous donations from the Professional Engineers in California Government (PECG), Simpson Strong-Tie Co., and The Home Depot, students from Casa Roble HS and Pastuer MS are partnering with local engineers to participate in a "build day".

CRANE is partnering with the Folsom Zoo to help pathway students identify real-life problems and design real-life solutions to those problems.

Under the supervision of volunteers, middle & high school students spent a day designing and building planter boxes for the zoo. John Agostinelli, CRANE coordinator, has been working with the zoo and volunteers to make projects like this possible. Check the CRANE website for upcoming zoo projects.

CRANE Partners for Mental Health Event

Over the month of March, CRANE partnered with the Sacramento Valley Psychological Association and Capital Academies and Pathways to host students for a mental health training and conference. High school students from Placer County and Sacramento County researched mental health topics of their choice and created public service announcement videos.

The students also had the opportunity to learn from and share their videos with professional psychologists from Sacramento and psychology students from Sacramento State University and other postsecondary institutions. The series of trainings and events were a boost for the high schoolers' learning and confidence as they put together amazing videos and shared them at a culminating event at Sacramento State University. 

This is an annual event that will only get bigger and better for more and more high school students around the region. CRANE is proud to have partnered on this event and excited at the opportunities for collaboration and relationship-building that it offers our high schools, business partners, and postsecondary programs throughout the region.

F2Fork Teachers & Industry Partners Cultivate Relationships

The Sacramento Region is recognized as being a leader in Agriculture, but ag products were not the focus of the recent Farm to Fork Focus Group meeting held at Palmiter High School.   Building sustainable relationships between CRANE Pathway Teachers and industry partners was the growing theme as discussion and sharing of skills and programs took place between the 23 people in attendance.  

Sara Bernal and Allyson Harvie address the needs of essential skills as teachers listen.

Sara Bernal and Allyson Harvie address the needs of essential skills as teachers listen.

Highlights of the day included a catered lunch by the students at Palmiter HS Cafe, the unveiling of CRANE's new Farm to Fork Curriculum, and introducing industry partners to schools in the region who are currently teaching Farm to Fork Classes at their high schools.

Chanowk Yisrael discusses the importance of farming in schools.

Chanowk Yisrael discusses the importance of farming in schools.

Teachers from Bryte, Del Oro, Liberty Ranch,  Palmiter, and Yuba City High Schools braved the rain storm to meet and discuss ideas for their programs with Chefs: Ettore Ravazzolo from Ettore's European Bakery & Restaurant, Patrick Mulvaney from Mulvaney's B&L, Allyson Harvie from Lowbrau Bierhall,  and agriculture partners: Sara Bernal from the West Sacramento Urban Farm Program, Bryan Nelson & Jennifer Ho from General Produce, and  Chanowk Yisrael from Yisrael Family Urban Farms.

Bryan Nelson from General Produce discusses with the group attributes they look for in employees.

Bryan Nelson from General Produce discusses with the group attributes they look for in employees.

The lunch prepared by Palmiter High School students under the direction of Chef Jeff Zahniser used product grown on the school farm by students and thier teacher, Kevin Jordan.  What a delicious way to celebrate Farm to Fork!  Click here for more information on regional  Farm to Fork curriculum.