May Newsletter

Dear Science Magnet Community,

The light is at the end of the tunnel! What a year it has been. The JAMS Science Magnet continues to be a gem at JAMS and it truly takes a village to keep it all going, thank you for your support and being a part of this wonderful community.

Each year JAMS Science Magnet awards scholarships to graduating Samohi seniors who are JAMS alumni. These hardworking, science-minded students are chosen by the Science Magnet scholarship committee based on merit and a written essay. Four scholarship recipients have been chosen for 2017 and will be announced at the Science Magnet Social on May 15. Their essays will be published in the next newsletter! Click here to read the notes to the Science Magnet Community from last year's Samohi JAMS Scholarship recipients.

Due to a large number of 7th-grade magnet students needing that one last seminar credit to remain in the magnet for next year, we are extending the deadline for their 5th seminar. Students short on seminars can complete an independent seminar (and/or Coding if they need two) by Monday, May 8th. For coding, they must complete the advanced 20-hour course on the coding website. They need to register with the directions on the seminar sheet and sign in under the class code given. Students should register with their first and LAST name as one name for credit, example "TRACYLEVIN" Email with questions.

Students that qualify will receive their acceptance letters on time. The others will be contingent until Monday, May 8th. The extension applies only to seminars.

The proposed slate for the Science Magnet Board for next year is coming together and can be seen here. We still have a few vacancies and can alway use new members, so if you would like to be a part of the Board or would like to volunteer in any capacity, we need you. Please join the next meeting on 5/22 or e-mail

The Annual Science Magnet Social is on May 15 at JAMS at 6 pm. We will have dinner, dessert, demos, and showcase some of the year's highlights! Click on the flyer, then rsvp with the number in your party so we can plan for food. 


If you are available to volunteer to help, please sign up!

We hope so! Many thanks to Sigrid Geerling for putting together an amazing application and letter of intent to NASA for JAMS to host a NASA Downlink! This will be a great opportunity for our students and educators to interact with astronauts aboard the International Space Station during a live, 20-minute question-and-answer. Check out the letter of intent which outlines why JAMS is a perfect candidate. 

As our own JAMS students are ready to depart for Japan at the end of June, we are still looking for families to host a Japanese student for a weekend in August. Our exchange students will be part of your family from late afternoon Friday, Aug 4th until the morning of Aug 7th. You need to be a totally average family with the desire to show a Japanese student how we do things Santa Monica style. No expensive Disneyland trips, no rigid schedule to keep. Just have fun! We have need for 4 adults chaperones to be hosted as well. The only requirement is that the guest has their own bed. If you have previously hosted, please share your experience in the comments. E-mail

Sixth Grade Summer Institute - The incoming 6th-grade science camp is currently full. All students that have signed up and paid are in! We'll see them at JAMS on Tuesday, August 15th and Wednesday, August 16th from 8:30am-2:30 pm. Incoming 6th-grade registration will take place after camp on Wednesday! 

7th & 8th Grade Summer Institute will be August 7th-August 11th, 8:30am-2:30 pm, Signups for incoming 7th & 8th-grade students coming.

Next year's 7th and 8th-grade family camping trip to Morro Bay State Park is September 15-17, 2017. To sign up for announcements and directions for next year's trip, please click on the "trip info" button on the Morro Bay page.


A Special “thanks” to the many parents who shared their spark by leading a seminar this year:

John Moss (SMC Zoology)
Patricia Jardack (nutrition seminar)
Mara Cabrera (Fairview Lib - 3-d printing and raspberry pi)
Randy Powell (Ham Radio)
Dennis Payne (Ham Radio)
Will Nicholas (Wetlands)
Armando Martinez (Trees of JAMS)
Jennifer Raymond (Urban Farming)
Gavin Bahadur (Be a doctor)
Duilio Cascio (Soap with Ray)
Maxine Meltz (Gardening)

And a final thank you to the 2016-17 Science Magnet Executive Board for working behind the scenes to support the science magnet program, our students, and our teachers.

5/5-8 2017 - Astrocamp, 8th Grade Science Magnet, (all students -one trip)
5/15/2017 - 6:30 pm SMSM SPRING SOCIAL
5/22/2017 - SMSM Board - Transition Meeting
8/7-8/11 - Summer Institute 7th & 8th Grade, 8:30am-2:30pm
8/15-8/16 - Summer Institute 6th, 8:30am-2:30pm

March Newsletter


Dear Science Magnet Community,

Where does the time go?! Seems we’ve barely begun and we’re already planning for next year. 

In addition to the largest student groups to attend the Catalina and Yosemite and family camping trips, students have enjoyed exciting new seminars such as 3-D printing, urban farming, and SMC Chemistry Lab. And kudos to our RoboVikings robotics team for their hard work making it to Regionals and placed second out of 25!

SEE’S CANDY FUNDRAISER $UCCE$$ Over $4,000 was raised in candy sales (that’s a LOT of calories). Thanks to our See’s Candy Fundraising Chair, Melissa Tarsky and everyone who helped lead another successful campaign, and to all those who sold and bought!

WHERE DID RAISED FUNDS GO THIS YEAR? With the funds raised up until now (without a concerted 2017 direct drive), we have been able to fully fund all the necessary scholarships for our science magnet trips, classroom supplies for our teachers including a computerized telescope, and one of three new high-tech water stations which will be installed shortly after spring break, as well as other budgeted program items. In light of a healthy reserve and the slow process of upgrading the Science Magnet laptops, we are foregoing a direct fundraising drive this school year. 

2017-18 SCIENCE MAGNET BOARD If you are interested in hearing more about serving on the Science Magnet Board for 2017-18, e-mail

LET’S PARTY AT THE SCIENCE MAGNET SOCIAL! Mark your calendars for the annual Science Magnet Social on May 15 at JAMS at 6 pm. There will be demos, dinner, dessert and elections for next year’s Board. Planning starts now and the chair of this event needs helping hands serving at the event. E-mail

MORRO BAY Families that are interested in attending the Morro Bay trip in the Fall should reserve a campsite or hotel asap!!  The main campground at MB State Park is FULL. You can reserve a nearby site at Morro Strand.  Information is on the Science Magnet webpage.  A sign-up genius for announcements and for the group site will be online on April 25th at 9 am.

SUMMER INSTITUTE Sixth Grade Summer Institute- All incoming 6th-grade students - Tuesday and Wednesday, August 15-16 from 8:30 am to 2:30 pm at JAMS.  Sign up and pay online before the camp fills! 7th & 8th Grade Summer Institute will be August 7th-August 11th, 8:30am-2:30 pm, Signups for incoming 7th & 8th-grade students coming soon. 

JAM SCIENCE MAGNET CAN SPEAK WITH AN ASTRONAUT AT THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION Our Board is looking for someone to take over an easy and exciting project--the application process for our Science Magnet to host a NASA Downlink! These are opportunities for students and educators to interact with astronauts aboard the International Space Station during a live, 20-minute question-and-answer. E-mail for more information.

NORO - NO MORE! Huge thanks to the 7th-grade reps, Mitra Herron, Traci Wallace and Angelica Benavides who led the Yosemite gear Norovirus decontamination process of sending piles of Yosemite gear out for professional cleaning and topped it off with a bleach cleaning of the storage bins. On behalf of our future Yosemite travelers, thank you!


3/27/2017 - SMSM Board meeting and Spring Social planning meeting
4/24/2017 - SMSM Board meeting
5/5-8 2017 - 8th Grade Astrocamp trip, (all students - one trip)
5/15/2017 - 6:30 pm SMSM SPRING SOCIAL
5/22/2017 - SMSM Board Transition Meeting
8/7-8/11 - Summer Institute 7th & 8th Grade, 8:30am-2:30pm
8/15-8/16 - Summer Institute 6th, 8:30am-2:30pm

NASA for students 
California Science Center events and camps

February Newsletter


Dear Science Magnet Community,

Administration and parents continue to be on high alert regarding the diminishing norovirus outbreak, and the good news is, the numbers are very low thanks to the extra cleaning and limiting of extracurricular activities in order to minimize contact. 

Thanks for your diligence, commitment, and understanding as we get back to "normal."

Seminar sheets have gone out and are due on Friday, 2/17.  Seminars do not fall into the activity that is banned by LA County. We have a lot of new seminars this round... it is exciting! 

  • Urban farming 
  • 3-D printing at the Fairview Library
  • Ballona Wetlands 
  • SMC chemistry lab for 8th graders on a Saturday

Calendar Items:


-As of now, the Science Magnet family camping trip to Joshua Tree is still on for 2/24-2/26. Thanks to past fundraising efforts and your support, our latest addition to Science Magnet equipment - a Celestron CPC 1100 StarBright XLS computerized telescope will be unveiled on this trip!-The next Science Magnet Board meeting which is open to all science magnet parents will be 2/27 at 6:30 in room 70. Agenda for the meeting.

-Ms. Levin will be conducting Science Magnet Outreach Presentations to 5th grade JAMS pathway classes on the following dates:

2/28 - 9am Rogers

3/8 - 8:45am Muir

3/9 - 9am Grant

3/13 - 1:30pm Edison

-Japan Trip Parent Meeting will be March 1st at 6:30 in room 23

-The 8th-grade Astrocamp trip has luckily been rescheduled to 5/5-5/8. Make sure to thank teacher Kristin Jurewicz and Principal Steve Richardson for their efforts. We also need to pay it forward because other schools moved their Astrocamp dates around in order to accommodate us.


WELCOME OUR NEW SCIENCE TEACHER MICHELLE MATHIS - While Ms. Kapasi is out on leave, Ms. Mathias joins our science teaching staff. Before JAMS, Ms. Mathis was a science teacher at Bancroft Middle School in Long Beach. She majored in Neuroscience and Psychology at Smith College. Born and raised in Southern California she loves the outdoors. Ms. Mathis loves that science connects our lives to every living and non-living thing around us. Science is in everything we do and the process of science is objective and allows for logical and reasonable ways to answer questions and address uncertainties. In a growing and changing world, thoughts and ideas will always be subject to revision and science inquiry allows a way to address new findings and predictions without bias. Stop by Room 52 and say hello.

November Newsletter

Dear Science Magnet Community,

The 6th grade trip to Catalina Island Marine Institute was full of excitement and learning for our students, thank you for your support! Next up is the 7th grade Yosemite trip and 8th grade AstroCamp trip.

Yosemite Gear Donations:  In preparation for the upcoming 7th Grade Yosemite Trip, we are seeking donations of needed items for our Loan-Out.  Please drop off used warm jackets, gloves, boots, and pants to Ms. Guirguis’s classroom, Room 72, between Nov. 7 and Nov. 29. Yosemite meeting & gear exchange is Tuesday, November 29, 6:30pm.

Seminar Highlight - JAMS HAM RADIO

Did you know that JAMS Science Magnet has its own radio station and Ham Radio seminar? Have you ever noticed the 110 foot antenna tower near the science quad? Here's the story.

Randy Powell became an amateur radio operator, or 'ham' in 1966. In 1997, his son was in the JAMS Science Magnet headed by Linda Cady. The 110 foot antenna tower next to Mrs. Cady's classroom got his attention (height is everything for an effective shortwave antenna). The tower had been installed in 1970 by KCRW (89.9 FM) whose studio and transmitter were in what is now room 70, Ms Jurewicz's classroom. KCRW moved their studio to Santa Monica College and their transmitter and antenna to the Hollywood Hills in 1979, so they abandoned the tower. It was up for grabs!

When Randy's son was attending JAMS, a ham radio transceiver was donated to the school and Mrs. Cady showed Randy the "new" radio. Randy suggested that they set up an amateur radio station noting that it could expand the Science Magnet's curriculum in the areas of physics, chemistry, geography, and electronics. A generous Marina del Rey ham donated the funds to pay for a "yagi" antenna and its installation on top of that 110' tower. So in 1998 the antenna was installed and the Magnet had a 1st class shortwave radio station to use as a teaching tool -- JAMS was 'on-the-air.' 

Since then, approximately 75 students per year have been introduced to ham radio. They have talked to other stations as far away as Antarctica, missionaries in remote jungles in the Philippines and picturesque villages in Portugal.  They've had QSO's (conversations) with nearly every US state and Canadian province, and over 60 countries. Bi-lingual students have even had conversations in languages other than English (with a retired Japanese ham in Tokyo and a Russian ham in Vladivostok). 

In 2012 a fellow ham Dennis Payne joined Randy. Dennis's wife and two children are JAMS alumnae (Dennis went to Lincoln). Having two instructors allows more students to participate in the 2 part, 3-hour seminar. Last year the school got its own callsign: KK6QXI.

Please stop by Rm. 70 any Wednesday after school and see what's happening 'on-the-air'!


Order forms have been distributed to the students! Last year, the Magnet's See's Candy sales brought in $5,000 which helped pay for science magnet classroom supplies such as our awesome telescope, lego robotic kits and more. The deadline is the end of November. Wondering what to get for your office mates or someone who has everything? These perfect gifts will be distributed to students right before the holiday break!

E-mail Chair, with questions. 

11/28/2016 - Science Magnet Board Meeting (open to all)

11/29/2016 - 7th Grade

Yosemite Trip Meeting, 6:30pm in the Cafeteria. Students attendance mandatory as well.

12/1/2016 - 8th Grade
AstroCamp Trip Parent Meeting, 6:30-7:30pm in the Cafeteria 

October Newsletter & Updates

Dear Science Magnet Community,

You can now make your student's magnet trip payments online at! The revamped website is your one-stop shopping for teachers' websites, forms, photos and updates. Check back for photos and news about the 6th grade Catalina trip leaving October 28, or check out the 7th grade Yosemite trip and 8th grade AstroCamp trip pages for itinerary or packing list. 


JAMS Science Magnet is offering a new seminar in Zoology conducted by the Santa Monica College Zoology Department Head, Professor John Moss! SMC's extensive collection of specimen rivals that of a large university and we are excited to deepen our connection to higher education opportunities right across the street! 

The Gardening seminar this year has been a great success!  Filled to the max every week, students have learned about and started compost, tilled the soil, identified good and bad bugs, planned the garden and planted seeds.  We look forward to doing the chemical soil analysis, planting the garden, keeping it healthy and having a harvest! JAMS students are on their way to being stewards of our earth and environment.

Seminars are Science Magnet requirements and it's a problem when students forget or don't show up. Please help your student with putting these on their calendar with reminders.

Our sweetest fundraiser is coming up! Last year, the Magnet's See's Candy sales brought in $5,000 which helped pay for science magnet classroom supplies such as our awesome telescope, lego robotic kits and more. The sales forms will be distributed to students mid-November and the deadline is the end of November. Wondering what to get for Aunt Alice or your mailman? The goods will conveniently be distributed to students right before the holiday break! E-mail Chair, with questions. 

As part of Hispanic Heritage Month, we are proud to highlight our own JAMS parent, Dr. Leticia M. Toledo-Sherman, a Cuban native who is incredibly accomplished in scientific research and an inspiration to our science magnet students. She is Director of Computer-Aided Drug Design and Medicinal Chemistry for the CHDI Foundation, an organization dedicated to finding a therapeutics for Huntington’s disease, a hereditary brain disease. Dr. Toledo-Sherman holds many patents and as a Chemist, has devoted much of her career to the discovery of kinase inhibitors to treat many types of cancers and now Huntington’s disease. She has participated in a program through Cal State Fullerton assisting college-bound young women to enhance their mathematics skills in an effort to choose careers in STEM fields. Like our JAMS Science Magnet students, she was lucky to have a lot of exposure to Science education as a child, and the spark that ignited her initial interest in chemistry was inspired by a 7th-grade middle school teacher! Read more about Leticia’s fascinating background here!


10/14/2016 Japan Exchange application available on website!

10/28-30/2016 6th Grade

Catalina Trip at Catalina Island Marine Institute - SIGN UP TO RECEIVE TEXT UPDATES HERE

11/29/2016 - 7th Grade

Yosemite Trip Meeting, 6:30pm in the Cafeteria. Students attendance mandatory as well.

12/1/2016 - 8th Grade

AstroCamp Trip Parent Meeting, 6:30-7:30pm in the Cafeteria 

Updates from JAMS Science Magnet

Dear Friends of JAMS Science Magnet,

We hope everyone's school year is off to a good start and want to welcome our new JAMS Science Magnet families!

Several Magnet families with 7th and 8th grade students are off this weekend to Morro Bay, and the next round of seminars for 6th, 7th and 8th grade students is around the corner! There is a lot happening with JAMS Science Magnet this year and we are excited to share the news and keep you up to speed.

There will be a meeting for all 7th-8th Grade parents this Thursday, 9/22 at 6:30pm in the Library. Light snacks will be served. For future meetings and dates, please see our SCIENCE MAGNET CALENDAR.

Seminar sheets for Round 2 will go out Wednesday and Thursday of this week and will be due Friday (9/23). This round of seminars starts on 10/4 and ends 11/10. We are piloting an exciting seminar facilitated by SMC Professor of Zoology in their lab. Due to the equipment limitations at SMC, space is very limited.

We are always looking to expand our choice of science magnet seminars. If you know of an expert or hobbyist in any scientific field who would be interested in facilitating a seminar for an afternoon or two with our bright and inquisitive students, please contact or speak with Ms. Jurewicz.

We have a few Chair positions still open on the Science Magnet Board and we welcome you to join or volunteer. We hold monthly meetings that are open for our Magnet families to sit in on.

NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik is a Grant/JAMS/Samohi graduate and was crew on the Space Shuttle Atlantis Mission in 2009. When asked about who influenced him in his scientific journey, Randy said “I remember a 6th-grade teacher and a guidance counselor in middle school, and a music teacher in college, all of whom went above and beyond.”

JAMS is helping to create opportunity pathways for our great thinkers of tomorrow!

If you have any questions, suggestions or concerns, please e-mail us at