ALCS California Wildfire Protection Project Premieres at LA County Fair!

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After a two year wait, the scale community of “New Hope, California”—created by Alta Loma Christian School students currently in grades 6-8—premiered at the LA County Fair yesterday and will be displayed each
weekend in May in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and run for the duration of the Fair.
Back in the 2019-2020 school year, ALCS joined in collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and aided by Cal Fire, to be the lone school in a national pilot STEM program that empowered students to consider and design wildfire resistant communities, in order to help save lives and
After ALCS students learned first-hand from U.S. Forest Service and Cal Fire personnel about the intricacies of fire science, evolving wildfire behavior, and fire prevention efforts in California, ALCS student engineers from the upper elementary grades through middle school designed and utilized 3D printing to begin creating and constructing a scale community incorporating their ideas.
As their California Wildfire “Community Shield” Protection Project was nearing its completion and premiere in spring of 2020 in Los Angeles—complete with U.S. Forest Service officials and Smoky Bear in attendance to promote the project—COVID-19 hit and the public debut of the pioneering program was put on indefinite
But yesterday, the project that took hundreds of hours of combined creativity and work time was unveiled for all to see and consider. ALCS Director of STEM Education, Ms. Jasmine Royse, ALCS Director of Technology and Media, Mr. Justin “Coach” Royse, and U.S. Forest Service Program Specialist and former ALCS parent, Ms. Yassy Wilkins (pictured at right), were on hand for the opening day of the project. The three collaborated closely and worked diligently throughout the project.
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“Isn’t this wonderful?” smiled Ms. Wilkins, who works as a Program Specialist for the USFS at the Los Angeles
Center for Urban Natural Resources Sustainability. “A lot of hard work went in to making this a reality.” There are 24 3D-architecturally-designed and 3D-printed buildings on the display, taking anywhere from five hours to 12 hours to print for each home. Coach Royse noted he was printing houses all through the Easter break, as students made needed revisions to their original designs hoping to make their revisions in time for the display’s
Even before the house could be designed and printed, Coach Royse explained that it took a week of just working through the mathematics to figure out the proper scale for the homes and the layout of the community of New Hope within the parameters and confines of the display. “We created this community in partnership with the U.S. Department of Forestry to address the growing need for fire-safe communities, given that here in Southern California, many of us live in or near the foothills,” wrote the Royses. “People are already thinking about how they can do things differently, just by coming by and looking at the display,” said Ms. Wilkins. “It’s making them more aware of what needs to happen.”
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The ALCS student-conceived concept and creation of the New Hope community is being displayed at the LA County Fair in the area called “America’s Great Outdoors” and the section “Where Urban Meets Wild,” sponsored by the US Forest Service just for this occasion. The U.S. Department of the Interior, the County of Los Angeles Fire Department, and the Forestry Division of the County of Los Angeles Fire Department also are on hand in “the forest” area of the Fair.

As Miss Royse explained to parents: “Your student has been working on a project in partnership with the US Forest Service wherein they learned about what makes a home or community fire-safe, in addition to fire-safe practices employed by the Forest Service and Cal Fire. They then designed their own home in TinkerCad to be 3D printed.” 
Each home that was designed without flaw (or was adjusted after feedback)— meaning there were no gaps in the
structure, all pieces were grouped and aligned correctly, roof was in a separate file, etc.—was printed out by Coach Royse and integrated into the community.

The Royses and Miss Andrea Munive, ALCS art teacher, worked on transporting and placing the pieces of the display, including the sections for the homes and the colorful backdrop, in their proper place at the exhibit site, which is outdoors.
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The result of their craftmanship is a showcase for the unique and innovative student STEM creation designed to
help all Californians think of better ways to protect lives and property from the catastrophic rise of wildfires and changes in fire behavior across the state.

“A lot of very hard work and creative thinking and problem solving went into this project,” said ALCS head of school, Dr. Vance Nichols, who was also there on opening day, along with middle schooler Jack Fox and his father, Mr. Lee Fox. “Our teachers and students combined a lot of people hours and great thinking to bring their concept from an idea to a tangible scale-community, all to get people to think about how to make safer spaces to live in a wildfire-prone state."
ALCS was invited to pilot the national program following its comprehensive STEM program’s success on a number of levels, including experiments sent to the International Space Station as part of the Quest for Space program; STEM rocketry; the annual ALCS Tech Fair; and the growth of STEM throughout the curricula in ALCS classrooms. The school was also familiar to USFS personnel involved in charting out the pilot program, so it was an excellent match from the start.