Mission Dolores Academy | The education of tomorrow rooted in tradition.

Entrepreneur Visits 7th Grade to Demonstrate Real World Science in Action

June 4, 2014

Silicon Valley entrepreneur, Lisa Mazzocco, visited Mission Dolores Academy today to teach 7th graders about real-world applications of science while also practicing valuable work skills.

Mazzocco, an engineer specializing in robotics, began the discussion by asking students what Kinect, Facebook, and vegetables all have in common.  The answer:  her company, Blue River Technology. The company integrates technologies used by Kinect and Facebook, as well as advanced robotics technology, to scour farms and identify the health of individual plants. Farmers use the information to more efficiently allocate resources like water and fertilizer, benefiting farmers, consumers, and the environment.

With students now seeing the connection between technology and food, the lesson moved to a fun, small-group exercise where students formed small teams, each tasked with answering two questions: “What are the top 5 ingredients in a Cheerio?” and “How do Cheerios get their famous 'O' shape?" Each group debated and collaborated to come up with its answers and then presented its findings in front of the class. The goal of the exercise, according to Mazzocco, was to have the students practice problem-solving, collaboration, and communication – all highly-prized skills in Silicon Valley.  “I was really impressed with the variety and creativity of the students' answers," she said.  "They brought a lot of energy to the activity, and they presented their ideas with confidence - they weren't afraid to be wrong, which is a great skill to have as an entrepreneur and an engineer."

After the presentations, Mazzocco answered the two questions, so students could see how close their answers were.  The real answers also gave students insight into what goes into processed foods and how they are made.  To students’ surprise (and evidently disgust, as measure by the number of “ewwws”), they learned both Cheerios and chicken nuggets start off as gooey doughs that are then extruded into long tubes and chopped into disks.

Science teacher Mike Adkins said this type of guest presentation is an important component of students’ education at Mission Dolores Academy.  “We love it when experts in their field come in and connect what our students are learning with the real world.  The math and science concepts become more real, which also makes them more interesting and exciting.”

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