Hands-on culture as Ms. Zhang’s Introduction to Chinese class celebrates Moon Cake Day!

On September 20, Jane Zhang and her 6th grade students prepared for the Chinese Mid Autumn Festival, perhaps better known as Moon Cake Day, by making these traditional sweets together in class. Brayden C. observed, “It tastes like sweet Play-Doh.” (We’ll pretend that neither we nor Brayden have any idea what real Play-Doh tastes like.) Maryn Y. commented, “It was really good. It was sweet, but not over sweet.” According to Amelia N., “(Ours are) better than the store’s!”

Though we can’t offer our readers a taste, we can all feast our eyes on our students’ beautiful finished products!

Reinventing the flashlight: A day in Mr. Martin’s Practical Electronics class

As you travel through your daily routine, consider for a moment all of the electronic tools and gadgets you depend upon. Perhaps you used a hair dryer or an electric toothbrush while getting ready this morning? Or a toaster to prepare your bagel and cream cheese? Did you use a garage door opener before departing for work or school in your electric vehicle? Or turn on the radio on your commute?

We use so many gadgets on a daily basis that it’s easy to take them for granted–so much so that we might not give any thought to how these inventions came to be, both in terms of form and function. However, even the simplest device may reflect a great deal of careful thought and elegant design in order to produce something that is practical and effective.

Students in Mr. Martin’s Practical Electronics class this week were faced with a challenge: Make a flashlight. Seems simple enough, doesn’t it? After all, flashlights already exist! Ah, but here’s the catch: you must design one from scratch, with no instructions. (Oh, and it must also work.) It’s not so simple anymore, is it?

This project was an entry point for students to gain an understanding of the design process, as well as the tools and basic materials required for creating electronic devices, learned on a “just in time” basis as they progress through the steps of designing and building their own flashlights. On the day of my visit, students had already drafted prototypes for their flashlights on paper. After a brief demonstration of the tools at their disposal and a primer in their safe use, students were ready to cut wires, drill holes and use soldering guns to bring their simple flashlight designs to life.

We can’t wait to see the finished products! For the moment, here are some images from Day 1 of the building process…

Mr. Martin introduces the construction process to the class with a student assistant.

I get to view a (top secret!) example of a finished product, as students attempt to sneak a glimpse.


Students are required to wear safety goggles while using the mounted drill.

Mr. Martin joins students at work, coaching as needed.

Students work together to solder a flashlight piece.

A student uses pliers to cut electrical wire.

Beyond the gallery: Mural painting students tour Downtown Los Angeles

Think back to the last time you viewed a painting: What image comes to mind? Was it large or small? Did it belong to a collection, or belong to no one? Was it inside of a gallery, or on a wall…or somewhere else?

On Monday, Donna Hicks’ Mural Painting students discovered art “beyond the gallery” as they participated in a guided tour of street art in Downtown Los Angeles. Led by guides from LA Art Tours, many of whom are active street artists, students considered how space and creativity are intertwined. In preparation for the mural project they will carry out on Viewpoint’s campus this semester, our students learned about the mural planning process, how to design and create works for large public spaces–and how to spot art in unexpected locations!

This was truly an eye-opening experience for our students, and we look forward to seeing how it will inspire our students’ campus mural work this semester!







Forging Connections and Community at the Middle School Fall Club Fair

The 2018-2019 school year has officially started: Middle School clubs are up and running!

On Friday, our Middle School students gathered to survey almost two dozen (!) student- and faculty-sponsored clubs and activities, all of which will form part of their I Block choice-based programming throughout the semester. Through activities serious and playful, and as varied as Garden Club, Service Learning Club, Junior Classical League, Dungeons and Dragons, Yoga and Mindfulness, and Student Council, students have the opportunity to build friendships, collaborate and problem-solve with their peers, all while engaging in projects that reflect their unique interests and meet broader community needs.

Here’s a sampling of the opportunities our creative students and faculty sponsors have launched for the new school year!


The MS Door Decorating Contest is in “full swing”!

Our Middle School students’ collaborative skills and creativity–spurred on by a little “friendly competition”–were plainly evident during I Block today, as our Advisory groups worked to complete their Advisory door decorations for Friday’s judging. Advisories were encouraged to create original designs that conveyed their group’s identity, sense of humor, playfulness and interests, and school values.

We enjoyed popping into some classrooms today to view the creative process, and we can’t wait to see all of our groups’ imaginative final products tomorrow!