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Category: Raul Garcia Jr.

Elementary students get their first lesson in robotics

By Raul Garcia Jr.

A total of 100 Mercedes ISD migrant students from Kennedy, North, Travis and Hinojosa Elementary were given a presentation on Wednesday about robotics and aerospace engineering by local robotics expert, Heriberto Reynoso.

“It was really good and we learned a lot about robots,” said Michael Carrion, Kennedy Elementary fifth grader. “I want to build robots too.”

Carrion said he has been studying about space for two years now since starting in the third grade. He won a tyrannosaurus Rex 3D puzzle for answering Neil Armstrong was the first man on the moon. The puzzle is one of many educational training assembly tools Reynoso builds in Mercedes with his specialized laser cutter that is used mainly to build robot parts.

The robotics presentation was a first for the migrant student initiative in Mercedes. However the Mercedes Migrant program and the school district are very proactive according to the director. The presentation was the first of a two part series with the Reybotics Institute. On the second day Reynoso will meet with middle school students who will build a robot, a rocket and a drone on Thursday.

Reynoso told the students it takes nitrogen and oxygen to push a rocket into space. He asked the youngsters who were the first two men to walk on the Moon. A sea of little hands in the air showed the excitement and eagerness to be called on to help and answer questions from the robotics expert.

“The presentation was very effective,” said Rolando Herrera, district migrant director. “Our migrant students are involved in different initiatives and Beto was very informative of what’s upcoming and what areas our kids can be in route to.”

Reynoso said the kids are already in love with robots and are using technology and have seen it in movies. He attributes student attention to his presentations on account that all kids like robots. He said his talks about STEM is a great introduction into robotics. He continued saying it’s easy to capture the young minds by sharing my experiences and robot creation across the Valley.

“Hopefully my story acts like a driver for them to pursue the sciences and engineering fields,” said Heriberto Reynoso, the Robotics expert. “Theses students were quite receptive and in love with the idea of STEM as it is.”

As a college student he earned an internship opportunity with NASA where he did computer programming and worked on the Mars Rover. Reynoso earned a college degree from the University of Texas- Brownsville in computer science. Prior to that he had began building robots out of spare parts at home when he was 14-years-old. And it has become a passion of his to help students build robots and get into a career in robotics and aerospace engineering.

Reynoso partnered his business Reybotics with the Mercedes based nonprofit Texas Valley Communities Foundation in 2013 to continue engaging students for college readiness and a career in STEM. The non profit’s ENCORE program partners with Mercedes and area districts to give lessons in STEM.

High school graduate publishes children’s book

Victoria_Moreno

Local Weslaco resident Victoria Moreno published her first children’s book, “Arbez the Friendly Zebra” this year. The story is about a zebra trying to make friends on a farm. Her brother Leroy Moreno Jr illustrated the book.

By Raul Garcia Jr.

Most people will never write a book in their lifetime. One recent high school graduate was determined to get it done before starting college.

Arbez the friendly Zebra is a children’s book written by Victoria Moreno and was published by Outskirts Press in April of this year. She said it took her a lot of writing over the years and help from her brother Leroy Moreno Jr. who illustrated the book.

“I wanted something different where kids could say — Wow,” the author said. “This is the first time I read something like this.”




Her book details the social problem of bullying through the experience of a zebra that does rope tricks. Moreno hopes the book will help teach children not to bully other students at school. In the story Arbez the zebra quickly becomes the outsider at a farm and found himself unwelcome by all the animals because he is different.

“The book is helpful and it teaches kids not to be so hard on somebody,” the author said.

Moreno recalls letting her imagination run wild at her grandfather’s farm. At a young age she would often wonder what it would be like if the farm animals could speak and later she turned them into characters and started writing it all down. The zebra became her favorite and because it was so different from all the other animals she related social differences and found the basis of her book to not judge someone because they are different.

“I do plan to continue more stories along the way,” Moreno said. “It’s something that I enjoy doing.”

The entering college freshman is considering psychology as her major but she hasn’t completely taken business off the table. After all her family owns the Moreno’s Feed and Pet Stores in Weslaco and Donna where she has spent time working.

The book is available at Moreno’s Feed and Pet Stores in Weslaco and can be ordered through Barnes and Noble or Amazon.

Rio Hondo Student Accepted into Harvard Summer Program

SUMMER SCHOOL: is not usually a priority for the common high school student. However, one student from Rio Hondo, Jose Ramirez, does want to go but he has his heart set on attending Harvard University’s Secondary School Program for High school students. He was accepted into the program in March. In April he was awarded a $6,400 scholarship that pays half of the tuition.  To help Ramirez with tuition to attend Harvard contact his GearUp Counselor Pete Zuniga at Rio Hondo High School. Ph:(956) 748-1200 SUMMER SCHOOL: is not usually a priority for the common high school student. However, one student from Rio Hondo, Jose Ramirez, does want to go but he has his heart set on attending Harvard University’s Secondary School Program for High school students. He was accepted into the program in March. In April he was awarded a $6,400 scholarship that pays half of the tuition. To help Ramirez with tuition to attend Harvard contact his GearUp Counselor Pete Zuniga at Rio Hondo High School. Ph:(956) 748-1200[/caption]

By Raul Garcia Jr.

Rio Hondo High School sophomore, Jose Ramirez plans to attend summer school at Harvard University. The university awarded him a scholarship of $6,400. Now all he has to do is come up with the rest of money to pay the tuition so he can hit the books. The total cost for the seven-week Secondary School Program, which includes room and board and two four credit courses, is $11,320.

He was inspired to apply after attending Hanging with Harvard, a Saturday conference for GearUp students hosted by Region One GearUp and the Texas Graduate Center, an initiative of the Texas Valley Communities Foundation. Hanging with Harvard is led by local math teachers currently pursuing their graduate degree from Harvard University Extension School via distance learning and summer residencies. The teachers not only focus on math content but also talk to the students about what it’s like attending Harvard University and how best to prepare for an Ivy League education. Ramirez met up with about 300 students from around the Valley for the day-long conference at Region One.

“When I found out about the program I got real excited because it’s not every day that you get to meet representatives from Harvard.” Ramirez said. “Because it is one of the most prestigious schools I decided to go and find out more about it.”

Ramirez said he researched the school then told his GearUp counselor that he wanted to enter the Harvard Summer Program. Ramirez’s GearUp teacher said Ramirez came to his office a few days after the event and said he was serious about looking into the summer program. They took a look at the entrance requirements and Ramirez began getting his application packet ready.

He applied thinking, “why not try, what is the worst that can happen— I will get a letter saying no.” After waiting and waiting for a response to his application, he logged into his Harvard account hopeful, and there it was, a message of acceptance. “You get to take college courses and you get to meet new people from around the world and it’s something I have never really done,” said Ramirez. “I have never left the state except when I travel into Mexico to visit my grandparents.”

Ramirez is a Major in the school’s Air Force JROTC, he has been involved in Habitat for Humanity and the school band. The valley native is ready to take on a Harvard experience that only few have ever done or been a part of from the Rio Grande Valley.

Aside from his duties in the ROTC and his classwork, Ramirez is working at school to learn welding, but his career goal is in wind turbine energy. “GearUp has always been very supportive of me and every GearUp event has helped me strengthen my career pathway,” Ramirez said.

GearUp is a college prep program that assists in the preparation for college readiness.

To help fund Jose Ramirez attend the Harvard Summer Program contact Pete Zuniga, GearUp facilitator at Rio Hondo High. Ph:(956) 748-1200

Mercedes musician to take center stage at stock show

KID ZAPPER AND HIGH BUD LIGHT GUITAR

Budweiser Beer Garden stage
to host music entertainment

By Raul Garcia Jr.

The Budweiser Beer Garden at the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show will once again be the venue for Mercedes rock musician, Kid Zapper and featured artist.

See them again this year on Thursday night March 19 and Saturday night March 21 from 7 pm to midnight.

“I will have door prizes, t-shirts, caps and guitars,” Kid Zapper said. “I will be giving out up to five guitars this year.”

The Kid Zapper will share the stage with Donna natives Jesse Yanez y Los Chavos, Julian Yanez known by his stage name “Wero Palmas,” Sweetwater from Mercedes and Arsenal from Harlingen.

The Mercedes musician, Armando Saldana, known by his stage name Kid Zapper is recognized throughout the Rio Grande Valley and parts of Texas. He got his stage name from his late father Armando Saldana Sr. who was a trumpet musician in the 50’ and throughout his life. By some the trumpet was the equivalent of the electric guitar in his day. Saldana said he named the Kid Zapper while in the military stationed in the state of Washington’s Kitsap County where he was born and given a toy guitar as an infant who was destined for music stardom.

This Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show marks the fifth year in a row the Kid Zapper and his band the Rockin’ Zappers will be playing at the annual festival.

Kid Zapper is known for coming off stage and letting the crowd slide with his Bud Light guitar. Throughout the night people will be able to hear some of rock-n-roll’s favorite songs, blues music and original hits.

Open your favorite beverage in the Budweiser Beer Garden and hear some rock-n-roll, the sound of the accordion and Norteno corridos.

The Donna native, Julian Yanez plays Norteno corridos with the Kid Zapper adding some rock-n-roll to the track. Their most recent recording is “Tequila Patron en el Valle.”

Kid Zapper’s latest hit song is “Nuestro Amor.” It is making a big impact in the Tejano scene and is played by Jesse Yanez of Donna.

“We’re going to have a lot of fun,” Kid Zapper said. “I always have something up my sieve to help make the shows more exciting.”

Kid Zapper was given several Budweiser guitars over the last ten years. People join in the music entertainment by using a beer bottle and rubbing it against the Kid Zappers guitar neck making the live song their own. He is sponsored by L & F Distributors in McAllen. In 2005 he was spotted sliding a Bud Light bottle on his electric guitar. It creates a twangy sound and is entertaining to the audience. Soon after the local Budweiser executives gave him a Bud Light guitar that has become his signature in local rock-n-roll lore.

Kid Zapper is known for influencing Elida Reyna and Sylvia Garcia of Eskala with the hit song “Dime” that he wrote in the early 90’s.

Kid Zapper founder of the Rockin’ Zappers and he is presently recording an album with music videos for each song.

Roundtable talk on Immigration held at UTB

Texas Tribune Editor Evan Smith at round table discussion with legislators Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. and Rep. Eddie Lucio III, Rio Grande City Mayor Ruben O. Villarreal and UTB government professor Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera. The Texas Tribune hosts weekly discussions on statewide topics affecting Texas. Photo By Raul Garcia Jr. Texas Tribune Editor Evan Smith at round table discussion with legislators Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. and Rep. Eddie Lucio III, Rio Grande City Mayor Ruben O. Villarreal and UTB government professor Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera. The Texas Tribune hosts weekly discussions on statewide topics affecting Texas. Photo By Raul Garcia Jr.[/caption]

 

By Raul Garcia Jr.

The Texas Tribune’s high powered news journalism made a stop in Brownsville to talk immigration politics with local legislators, leaders in education and the community to get a sense of what is really going on in the Rio Grande Valley and to get the immigration conversation going.

“They brought up the issues that we normally hear about but they brought them up with much more information than what we usually get,” said Ana Jacobo, UTB junior government and communications major. “They were able to discuss them better and tell us more and inform us about it.”

Screen Shot 2015-03-01 at 10.23.35 AMTexas Tribune Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith moderated the discussion with legislators Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. and Rep. Eddie Lucio III, Rio Grande City Mayor Ruben O. Villarreal and UTB government department chair assistant professor Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera.

During the talk Dr. Correra-Cabrera called the immigration system dysfunctional. Sen. Lucio had just filed a bill on immigration that morning and Mayor Villarreal was still struggling with he fact that three people had drowned near the shores of his community trying to swim to the American Dream.

Set between two international bridges and only a short walk from the Rio Grande River’s Texas/Mexico border the hot-button state and national discussion on Immigration was taking place in front of an audience of almost 300 people and broadcasted live on the internet. It was held at the University of Texas at Brownsville on Friday February 28. University officials, professors, students, local media and business people were invited to the free public discussion that was open to the public.

The Tribune’s Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith didn’t hold back any questions about the economic impact, border security, the Texas governor’s lawsuit against the president’s executive order on immigration, college tuition or if the father and son legislators stood on the same side of the governor’s position on immigration as he moderated the discussion.

“Were just no different than anybody else, everybody in the room is a Texan and I think we all have a stake in the outcome of this issue and there is not going to be any solution any time soon,” said Evan Smith, Texas Tribune editor-in-chief. “But I think it’s important to have the conversation to get people better informed and better engaged.”

Rio Grande City Mayor Ruben Villarreal said solutions are not complicated and he hopes discussions like the one he participated in with the Tribune will cut through the fogginess of the immigration issue and push it forward.

“What’s affecting Brownsville is affecting Rio Grande City. There are undocumented immigrants that are still coming through,” the Mayor said. “Immigration is not just about coming into this country, it’s about saving lives and giving life an opportunity to flourish.”

The Texas Tribune is an online nonpartisan non-profit news organization based in Austin, Texas. They report statewide issues on public policy, government, business and education. It was founded in 2009.