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The Siege Weapon Competition at Merced College is at 4 p.m. Wednesday. - photo by Journal file photo

Seige Weapons Competition

Each year, Merced College Professor Lana Jordan’s Physics students participate in the Siege Weapon Competition. The students build full-scale trebuchets, or catapults, which must launch a basketball 15 meters. This is done for a grade.

The construction of the trebuchets must not use elastic, springs, chemical reactions, or electricity, so the machines can be very ingenuous. There is a $100 limit for materials.

The event, which draws about 100 participants and observers, is always entertaining and many of the designs are quite imaginative.

The competition will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday at the Merced College Practice Soccer Fields next to the Tri-College Center, off of G Street in Merced.


New UC Merced lecture series draws distinguished Maya scholars

UC Merced Professor Arturo Arias, recently named one of the campus’s first John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Chairs, has established a new lecture series to further critical race issues and ethnic knowledge of Mesoamerican and Latin American peoples.

The MacArthur Lecture Series, an element of the MacArthur Chair position, begins with a talk by Maya studies scholar Ruud van Akkeren at 2 p.m. Friday in the Elizabeth’s Garden dining room in the Yablokoff-Wallace Dining Center on campus. All lectures in the series are free and open to the public.

Currently a visiting professor at the University of Texas, Austin, van Akkeren will speak on “The Sacred Hearth of the Maya, the Ritual Landscape of Creation.” The talk focuses on the Maya practice of setting three hearthstones at the center of the house, where food is prepared. The stones are meant to represent the three throne-stones set by the Maya gods when they created the universe.

The second talk, by scholar and activist Irma Alicia Velasquez Nimatuj, is scheduled for noon April 19 in the California Room. She will also hold a workshop with students from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 18 in the Half Dome conference room, Room 317 in the Social Sciences and Management Building.

Nimatuj’s talk will examine efforts by Guatemala — where 40 percent of the population is of Maya descent — to seek justice for human rights abuses committed during the country’s 36-year armed conflict. While some recent cases have provided hope for those seeking justice, the political, military and economic sectors are waging a strong campaign against such proceedings.

“These speakers are special because they are both global authorities in their fields,” Arias said. “This series should help to cultivate an environment for our scholars to explore the fundamental questions of the human experience, and to ensure that the humanities continue to thrive for the benefit of all.”

Arias is already working on scheduling speakers for the fall, and he hopes the series will continue to build on UC Merced’s strengths in socially engaged scholarship while broadening its reach on issues related to Mesoamerican histories, cultures and languages — particularly those of indigenous peoples.

“This series strives to ensure that UC Merced will indeed rise to the forefront of humanities innovation, while improving and making visible knowledge and understanding of Mesoamerica and its peoples,” he said.


Science Saturday

Stanislaus State will host its next Science Saturday event, "The Beat Goes On," from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. This event is geared to students in grades 5 through 8 who are interested in anatomy and the study of the heart. Students will learn about an electrocardiogram, perform an EKG, learn the parts of the heart and dissect a cow's heart.

The event is free, but reservations are required. To reserve a spot for the event that will be held on the second floor of the Naraghi Hall of Science, call 209-667-3311.


MJC honors 2016 Disability Services Student of the Year

Modesto Junior College will honor Hannah Boxell as the Disability Services Student of the Year during the 2016 Disability Services Graduation Celebration.  The event will take place at 2 p.m. April 15 in the Student Center’s Staff Dining Room on East Campus.

Boxell was just four and a half years old when she immigrated to the United States from Russia.  She was born with hearing loss in both ears and became totally deaf when she was in the third grade.  

At the age of 16, Boxell received a cochlear implant.  With this new device she had to learn how to “hear” all over again.  However, she is very focused on completing her goals despite her hearing loss and resulting challenges. 

When Boxwell arrived at MJC in 2010, she was offered a real time captioner as one of her accommodations. 

“I remember feeling very scared when I first arrived at MJC,” said Boxell.  “I had never personally utilized a captioner.  The only experience I’d had with a captioner was when I attended an EYF (Exploring Your Future) Conference at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in New York in 2009. Captioning has helped me to review what I have learned and also helps me to see if I missed anything while taking notes in class.  Captioning has helped me to become a better student.”

She did not learn sign language as a young child, but is currently enrolled in an American Sign Language class for the spring semester. 

“I wanted to be able to connect with both the deaf and hearing worlds,” explained Boxell. 

In addition to her studies, Boxell volunteers in the community as a Board Member for the Disability Resource Agency for Independent Living .  She will be graduating from MJC with an Associate of Science degree in Child Development and will also receive a Master Teacher Certificate. 

Boxell loves working with children and her future plans include looking for a job this summer as a pre-school teacher.