Category Archives: Technology

Back to the future: the secret world of BART

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Story and photo by Anthony Beron

It was a glimpse into the future of BART: its new, New Zealand-designed  40-mile an hour cable car that’ll zip riders to the Oakland Airport.

About 35 McClymonds’ STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) students were treated to a behind-the scenes tour of BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit), along with a cameo on local TV news Tuesday.

“We learned how trains function and all the careers associated with BART,” said junior Kardel Howard.

The trip was organized by BART and Kathryn Hall, who heads the STEM program at McClymonds.

From President Obama to Miley Cyrus: selfies tell a story

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Buzz, Mix, Rap and Shoot at Legacy Studio

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photo by Nicholas Basta

by Khristan Antoine

Stroll into Legacy Studio at McClymonds, and you’ll be captivated by the bright orange, blue, green colors that form a warm, calm ambience.

The buzz will get to you: within the newly refurbished studio resonates the sound of the recently-installed audio mixing equipment–a combination of old and new technology, and a new-school turntable.

This is the domain of Nicholas Basta, 27,  Alternatives in Action’s new multimedia director.  Basta briskly opens the lock to the barred doors of the newly renovated Legacy Studios.  He turns on the sound-mixer, puts on sound-canceling headphones, and sits listening to the sounds and rhythms of his students’ progress. It’s a musical home to a half dozen or so up-and coming student DJs, mixers, rappers and song writers.

This year, the focus is less on rapping and more on digital story telling, even though Basta continues to teach beat making twice a week. On Monday and Wednesday, Basta teaches community media, filming, and digital story telling.  Tuesday and Thursdays are dedicated to beat making, sound engineering, music production, and vocal recording.

Even the old-timers, like Luckie Lovette, have come to appreciate Basta’s style and organizational skills.

Lovette, a senior, sits down at a computer, adjusts the brightness on the monitor, and puts on headphones. His head sways to the beat of Tupac Shakur’s  bass-heavy song “All Eyes On Me.” Lovette uses music videos found on YouTube as part of a project initiated by Legacy Studios.

“For me, this [legacy studios] is a way to be creative and create something new,” said Lovette.

As Basta encourages his students to push themselves, he does encounter some resistance. Students like Justin Gilreath, 15 and a senior, would prefer a more relaxed atmosphere. This year, Basta is expecting him to produce double the number of songs. “We barely got one mixtape done last year and he wants us to do way more,” says Gilreath.

And yet, like for most students, the studio remains a lure. “Rhythm is a part of my DNA,” says Gilreath.

Engineers with Swagg: the New Mack Look

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by Kardel Howard

McClymonds has a new class — engineering.  That means new toys, new tools, and new equipment that students can play with in their newly renovated $60,000 classroom, according to Lynn Baliff, educational consultant.

The new improvements start with the backpacks that were distributed to the Principles of Engineering class. The backpack doubles as a solar-powered cell-phone charger.  Its solar panel is sewn into the front of the backpack, and when placed under sunlight, absorbs the energy and transfers that to its solar-charged battery.  A USB cord plugs into the charged battery while the other side plugs into the phone; then it charges.

Other equipment includes a “master computer” that allows the teacher to monitor all the computer activity in the classroom.

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The engineering class also has a 3D printers that turns  models that are made on the computer to become a physical form. The 3D printer creates the model onto the platform by melting plastic filaments into a shape, and keeps tracing the model until it is no longer amorphous.

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“The class is advancing,” said Katherine Hall, engineering and math teacher.  In addition to the introductory course, Hall also added an advanced engineering course, Principles of Engineering.

“Next year,” she added, “there will be a third course for seniors.”

The engineering course counts as an elective and has a curriculum that encourages students to use their creativity and think more critically in using their mathematical abilities to solve equations.

There are 20 students total enrolled in the Intro to Engineering class and 15 in the Principles of Engineering class.  Students like Kelton Runnels, a junior, enjoy the new STEM curriculum. ” I believe this engineering class is now opening a lot more doors for us than sports,” says Runnels.

As he sees it, McClymonds is turning over a new leaf.

School’s out, but Mack students still angry over Trayvon Martin

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McClymonds students (left to right Jacob Miles, Lee Benson and Anthony Beron) take part in National Hoodie Day in support of Trayvon Martin.

by Anthony Beron

School’s out, but McClymonds students are closely following the Trayvon Martin trial, now in jury selection.

Several students, including juniors Jacob Miles and Lee Benson, took part in a National Hoodie Day, in support of the 17-year-old Florida high school who was murdered after buying Skittles and Arizona iced tea inside a gated complex in Sanford, Florida.

“I feel that what the man (George Zimmerman) did was out of pocket and the court should give him (Trayvon Martin) justice at least,” says Jacob Miles, a junior.

Zimmerman argued that he was in imminent danger of being attacked by Martin, who was at the time unarmed and pleading for his life, according to CNN.

“I’m angry.  After all, this is just another example of how Black and Latino youth are targeted because of their skin color,” said Rafael (who would not give his last name), a Hispanic male in his 20’s from East Oakland, who was the apparent organizer of the rally.  Rafael added, “We need a revolution!”

“I think George Zimmerman should serve a long sentence in jail, because he killed an innocent person.  It was racial profiling: he just killed Trayvon since he was an African-American male, wearing a hoodie, just walking around,” argued Kardel Howard, a sophomore.

Zimmerman claimed to have been attacked by Martin before shooting him, and later took photos of himself with a broken nose and several cuts and bruises.  The slug of the fatal round Zimmerman fired at Martin was lodged in the teen’s left chest before  paramedics arrived and attempted CPR on him.  Martin was later pronounced dead at the scene of the shooting.

Zimmerman’s defense team allegedly tried to form a jury with the least number of minorities as possible.  They denied the allegating: “Absolutely not, but if there isn’t a black juror, that doesn’t mean anything either. It just means that we chose the best people based on their answers to their questions,” according to the New York Daily News.

“I feel like it’s not fair to choose people that are not minorities who can’t relate as much to Martin,”  said Howard. “With more minority jurors, they can relate to racism and oppression better; it should be more balanced.”

Clash of the Titans: Xbox vs. Playstation

macksmackpixclashofttitansxboxby Jacob Miles

It all depends on whether you’re a Halo addict or an Uncharted fan.

Your allegiance, that is. Can you be swayed by better graphics?

As the new generations of PlayStation and Xbox evolve, gamers compare and contrast them. Some own both consoles (which is costly at $250 each). As in every high school, the never-ending debate here at McClymonds is about which system is king.

Later this year, for the first time, Microsoft and Sony will go head-to-head with brand new game consoles. While the Xbox 360 had a one year head start on the PlayStation 3, the Xbox one and PlayStation 4 will release within weeks of each other later this year.The close release dates make it harder to buy both consoles at launch. Many will likely have to choose just one console later this year. That choice will determine which side is the most popular.

“I personally think the PlayStation might get more sells because Microsoft never disappoints their fans and will keep them coming just to watch,” said Luckie Lovette, a junior who plays mostly Driver SanFrancisco.

Not everyone agrees. Lee Benson, a junior at McClymonds prefers the speed of the XBox, which enhances his favorite game, NBA 2K.

Gamers argue that the PlayStation is cheaper in the long run, since you don’t have to pay a monthly membership as you do for the Xbox. Others counter that the Xbox provides a better online experience.

While the Nintendo Wii is by far the most popular of the current generation of game consoles with over 96 million units shipped worldwide, Microsoft has had the number two game console position for its Xbox 360. On Thursday, Microsoft announced 1.4 million units of the console were sold in December in the United States, marking two straight years that that the Xbox 360 has been number one in the US.

With the release dates for both systems later this year, the two rival companies brace for battle over sales. It’s the ultimate clash between two Titans, and gamers at McClymonds are eager to play.

Epochal STEM Meeting: How Will Mack Students Benefit?

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by Anthony Beron

Behold, the 12-inch, green and grey robot, heralding change at McClymonds High School.

The floors of 226 were waxed, the equipment shined, the bright posters hung as McClymonds prepared to kick off its new STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) curriculum at a meeting tomorrow at 5:30pm in the Malcolm X room on the 2nd floor.

“This program is supposed to enhance engineering learning by providing hand-on experiences,” said Kathryn Hall, engineering and math teacher at McClymonds, about the program developed by Project Lead The Way.

Hall has been teaching a STEM elective at McClymonds this year. Kardel Howard, a sophomore (who will be there tomorrow) said that he enjoys the computer work, which helps him learn about himself. “Our teacher is not yet able to answer all our questions, but that’ll change,” he added.

In addition to students taking the STEM class, speakers are to include Principal Kevin Taylor, Oakland superintendent Tony Smith, Janet Auer from Chevron Global Partnerships and Programs, and Duane Crum of Project Lead The Way.

“I’m hoping that in the next couple to years, people will be hearing about our engineering and robotics programs,” principal Kevin Taylor told The Oakland Tribune.

On its website, Project Lead The Way says its curriculum reaches 500,000 students in over 4,700 schools in 50 states.

Robert Boege , executive director of Alliance for Science and Technology Research in America, told macksmack that West Oakland was selected after U.S. News and other media groups identified those schools that needed STEM the most. “The future economy will be dependent on our youth,” he added.

Chevron partnered to provide funding to support the program, which will be launched in three schools in West Oakland, Martin Luther King elementary school, West Oakland Middle School and McClymonds, creating a “West Oakland STEM education pipeline,” said Hall.