News From GT

December 9th

HCMS Hour of Code Friday

What is it?

The Hour of Code is a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify code and show that anybody can learn the basics.the grassroots campaign goal is for tens of millions of students to try an Hour of Code during December 8-14, 2014, in celebration of Computer Science Education Week.T he Hour of Code is organized by, a public 501c3 non-profit dedicated to expanding participation in computer science by making it available in more schools, and increasing participation by women and underrepresented students of color. An unprecedented coalition of partners have come together to support the Hour of Code, too — including Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Boys and Girls Clubs of America and the College Board.

How is HCMS participating?

Hill Country Middle School will host its own Hour of Code this Friday on an "Open Door" basis in Room 315, the 21st Century Learning Lab, with overflow space available in the 501 Computer Lab.

Students may attend at any time during the school day. We have shared with teachers that this is an option for Friday. They don't need a full hour - we can get them started in as little as 15 or 20 minutes, and they can go back to the activities later.

We will have a variety of options, for the true beginner to those who want to begin learning a programming language such as Python. All HCMS students are welcome.

Robotics Volunteers & Donations Needed Saturday

Hill Country Middle School is very fortunate to offer a Robotics elective. One of the things we do to support this program, and the programs at the elementary and high schools, is sponsor tournaments.

We still need volunteers to serve as judges from 8-12. No prior experience is needed for this. There are numerous areas students are scored on, including presentation and marketing skills.

Additionally, we could use someone to serve as concession stand manager from either 8 - 12 or 12 - 4.

Finally, we can still use volunteers for the hospitality suite and student volunteers to serve as runners. Students will be provided documentation for service/volunteer hours.

If you are unable to assist on Saturday, please consider donating a 12-pack of sodas or case of bottled water. These can be sent to either Mr. Dobinsky or Ms. Hanna's rooms.

UIL Sign Ups Are Available

Students may sign up to try out for the UIL Academic Competition Teams on the bulletin boards outside the cafeteria. Students may try out for up to 12 events, but can only participate in 1 or 2.

Events and Coaches

Ready Writing: Rhoni McClennahan (Rm. 313)

Number Sense: Avi Fisk (Rm. 211)

Mathematics: Krista Bradham (Rm. 507)

Calculator Applications: Tyson Dobinsky (Rm.304)

Listening: Crystal Boyd (Rm. 301)

Spelling: Kristen Vengler (Rm. 505)

Oral Reading: Pam Friday (Drama Room)

Maps, Charts & Graphs: Larry Embrey (Gym or Rm. 402)

Music Memory: Matthew Beebe (Rm. 108)

Dictionary Skills: Amber Funderburgh (Rm. 303)

Social Studies: Laura Haneman (Rm. 215)

Art: Kathie del Hierro (Art Room)

For questions about a specific event, please see the coach of the event. For general questions about UIL and the competition, you can view the information PowerPoint here, or contact Ki-Mi Fields, UIL Coordinator.

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Stock Market Game Winners

Congratulations to 7th Graders Anh-Ton Pham and Bodhi Kunda! They were the winners of the Central Texas Region in the 4th-8th grade division of The Stock Market Game. In addition to a certificate, they will each receive a check for $50 and a plaque for our school.

The spring semester Stock Market Game will begin February 2nd. Look for sign up information in January.

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Join the Teen Programs at the Thinkery, the new Austin Children's Museum!

You are invited to fill out the application form, located below, to be a Volunteen Trainee at the Thinkery.

If selected, you must commit to completing 100 hours of volunteer service between Spring 2015-Spring 2016. This commitment consists of 40 hours of training/volunteer service over a Spring Session, which requires an additional 60 hours throughout the following year (based on applicant’s availability).

It is mandatory all selected Trainees attend all required and assigned dates of selected program if accepted into the program. Participants who commit to continuing their service beyond their service may become eligible for paid employment.

Volunteen Application: Weekend crew, Spring 2015
To fill it out, visit:
Deadline: 5pm on January 14, 2015
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8th Grade GT Students Visit Bullock Museum

Last week, students from the 8th grade GT program visited the Bullock Museum to participate in activities linked to the launch of the Orion Shuttle. Eventually, it is hoped that Orion will lead to human exploration of deep space.

Unfortunately, the shuttle was unable to launch as scheduled. However, students were able to hear explanations and participate in a Q & A session with current an former NASA staff. The shuttle did launch successfully the next day.

More information about the progress of Orion can be found here.

Announcing 6th Grade GT Field Trip

On Tuesday, January 13th, 6th grade GT students from West Ridge and Hill Country will visit the Chemistry department at UT for a chemistry demo. Afterward, we will go to the food court at Dobie Mall. The 7th and 8th grade GT students assure me that they loved this field trip.

More information and permission forms will be distributed after the winter break.

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Save the Date: Opera Night January 22nd

Once again, the Eanes ISD middle school GT Students will have the opportunity to attend a performance of the Austin Lyric Opera. As part of the Access Opera program, we will have the opportunity to attend the final dress rehearsal of Romeo & Juliet on Thursday, January 22nd, at 7:00 PM.

On that day, students will have a catered Italian dinner here at school. Then, we will board buses and travel to the Long Center to see the performances. We will return to Hill Country afterward.

Unfortunately, there are boys and girls basketball games that night, so those students will not be able to participate. At this point, no other conflicts exist on the HCMS calendar.

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TEDx Youth at Austin Registration has Opened!

TedxYouth@Austin will be held February 14, 2015 at the Westlake High School Performing Arts Center. Doors will open at noon, and the closing party is from 6:00 to 7:00.

What is TEDxYouth@Austin?

A group of youth and adult speakers and performers are coming together to share their “ideas worth spreading;” TEDxYouth@Austin is an annual forum created to bring high school and middle school students from the central Texas area into the TEDx movement. With engaging stories, inspiring performances, and intriguing presentations, we will explore the theme of (in)visible. Learn more about the theme here!

What is TEDx?

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TED has created a program called TEDx. TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. Our event is called TEDxYouth@Austin, where x = independently organized TED event. At our TEDxYouth@Austin event, TEDTalks video and live speakers will combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events, including ours, are self-organized.


Registration for TEDxYouth@Austin is now open. Click here to register. Registration is free, but the organizers ask that all attendees volunteer 4 hours of their time to the organization of his/her choice prior to the event.

A great way to volunteer is to sign up to volunteer at the HCMS FLL Robotics Tournament this Saturday.