KERN BUSINESS JOURNAL
August / September 2015
Chevron grant fuels robotics STEM program By Louis Medina
hildren 18 and under growing up around Community Action Partnership of Kern’s Friendship House Community Center in southeast Bakersfield face a high poverty rate of 27 percent – and an alarming 66 percent if they are under 5 – according to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Many of these children could never hope to build and play with sophisticated robotic toys that cost hundreds of dollars. But thanks to a $10,000 social investment process grant from Chevron this spring, 29 Friendship Louis Medina House After School Program children – 21 boys and eight girls ranging in grades from fourth to eighth – were able to assemble and program Lego Mindstorm robots with help from a part-time science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) instructor from local technology education service company, Advanced Micro Resource. What was perhaps the most meaningful about this experience for Friendship House kids was that they became passive learners of skills that could one day open the door to success for them. “Robotics is a way to get students interested in learning without them knowing,” said Adam Alvidrez, Chevron’s local community engagement specialist. “They are having fun, but they are practicing concepts of computer, mechanical and electrical engineering and also learning
soft skills along the way – kind of by accident!” These skills include team building, working under pressure, taking precise notes and measurements, completing tasks from beginning to end, responding to a project manager, who in this case is the teacher giving them instructions – all skills they will need several years down the line when they become working adults. “They don’t have any idea that it’s going to have a payoff one day,” Alvidrez said, especially if they choose a career path in science and math. In designing the class, Friendship House Program Manager Lois Hannible sought assistance from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Kern County, which generously shared the curriculum design template they had used for implementing its own after-school robotics and STEM program with Chevron funding. “The robotics program makes learning fun and exciting, and encourages youth to use critical thinking skills to accomplish tasks that prior to the class appeared to them to be too difficult to master,” Hannible said. “Not only have the students gained knowledge through this program, but their self-confidence has increased tremendously. Their pride and sense of accomplishment each time they complete the construction and programming of one of the robots speaks volumes to the benefits of the program and why it is so needed.” Alvidrez said Chevron is invested in STEM education from prekindergarten all the way up to higher education. “We want to create a local pipeline of talent,” he said. “And Chevron is proud to partner with CAPK in providing STEM enrichment opportunities for kids. We are committed to supporting STEM programs in
PHOTO COURTESY OF LOUIS MEDINA
Sequoia Middle School student Yajaira Sanchez, left, and Casa Loma Elementary School fourth-grader Julian Gutierrez sort through the pieces of Lego Mindstorm robotic kits at a Friendship House Community Center classroom. The children learned concepts of computer, mechanical and electrical engineering while having fun at Friendship House’s After School Robotics and STEM Program this spring.
Kern County.” For information about Friendship House’s after-school programs for children ages 6 to 18, please call 369-8926 or visit capk.org. – Louis Medina is the outreach and advocacy manager for Community Action Partnership of Kern.
Employers: Make sure employees know their rights with workplace postings By Beatriz Trejo and James Yoro
or employers, knowing information about regulatory issues, industry trends and state requirements is crucial to the success of a business. Business owners can even find themselves in regulatory trouble if they don’t follow new rules. For example, it’s especially important, and required, for California employers to post workplace information to inform their employees of their rights. These postings must be in an area frequented by employees where it may be easily accessed and read during an average workday. Common locations for postings include a company break room, near an employee entrance, kitchen or copy room. Employers are required to post information about wages, hours, working conditions, unemployment insurance, and disability insurance and paid family leave. Although additional posting requirements apply to certain employers, the basic posting requirements are clear for all employers. Here are just a few of them.
Essential notices The California Department of Industrial Relations requires that most employers post the state’s minimum wage, provide information about paid sick leave, its entitlement and usage. An employer must also provide information indicating its regular paydays, including the time and place of payment.
Safety first Although safety notices vary greatly depending on the employer, all employers must have pertinent information regarding safety rules in English and Spanish and have emergency responders’ phone numbers. Employers in certain industries, such as employers who use hazardous material or equipment or who employ more than a specified number of employees, may have additional posting requirements.
Benefits postings All employers must post workers’ compensation information and benefits notices. There is no set format for providing this
notice, so long as all necessary information is contained in it. Although an employer may elect to send their notices to the administrative director of the California Division of Workers’ Compensation for review and approval, most employer’s workers’ compensation insurance or claims administrator will often provide this service and will supply the employer with a professionally printed copy of the poster and workers’ compensation claims forms. Other forms or pamphlets might also need to be provided to new hires or in certain situations.
When to post Employers need not replace the postings every year. Postings need to be revised and replaced when the content changes. Most postings do not change once the language has been established. The California Department of Industrial Relations will announce posting updates on its webpage – dir.ca.gov – when they occur.
Get some help There are several agencies that help employers navigate through the posting
requirements at no cost. The California Department of Industrial Relations provides a list of industries and occupational groups from which an employer can get information about specific posting requirements. The Industrial Welfare Commission also has an alphabetical index of businesses and occupations that provide employers information as to which wage order governs them. Cal/OSHA can also give employers a list of health and safety notices. Once an employer is registered with the California Employment Development Department, it will receive a notice to post from that agency. A comprehensive list of postings requirements can also be found at the California Tax Service Center website. Employers may also elect to use a private vendor to assemble packages of required posters. — James Yoro is senior partner at Chain Cohn Stiles, where he manages the law firm’s workers’ compensation practice, and has nearly 40 years of experience in Kern County in his field. Beatriz Trejo is an associate attorney in the workers’ compensation department at Chain Cohn Stiles.