Many years ago, had you asked Santa Ana College Alum Béa Tomaselli Tiritilli whether she saw herself as ever becoming a chemistry teacher, she would have laughed. Not only does she teach high-school chemistry today, but she writes and produces humorous animated shorts on the subject. Working with a talented team of local performers, including Grammy-nominated Eric Morones, one of those shorts will be featured in Orange County’s Film Fiesta this October.
“My love of nature eventually morphed into a biology degree from SAC,” Tiritilli said, “but not before a circuitous education route that had me changing majors several times and spending eleven years as a high-school English teacher.”
Bored of grading teenagers’ essays, Tiritilli went back to college several years ago to reinvent herself as a science teacher, culminating in an AA in Biology from SAC in 2013.
“I almost didn’t make it,” Tiritilli recalled. “Although I earned A’s in my biology classes, I needed fifteen credits in chemistry to earn the degree. Chemistry kicked my ass. I’m a visual learner, and I couldn’t visualize what was happening at a level so teeny weeny sub-atomic that even our most powerful microscopes can, at best, capture fuzzy images of atoms.”
Tiritilli thanks SAC’s incredible chemistry tutors and savvy lab partners for her success. After passing the exam to earn her CA teaching credential for biology, Tiritilli thought she had a chance at the chemistry-credential exam. She took the test and passed.
Once she landed a job in a high-school chemistry classroom, Tiritilli began searching the Internet for short, entertaining videos to share with her students that would enable them to better visualize chemistry concepts. She found plenty of videos from talking-head professors, but not much to capture the attention of easily bored teens. So she researched how to make her own, began writing funny scripts starring personified atoms, and put together a team of professional actors, musicians and artists to help her dream become a reality.
Tiritilli’s animated short What the Heck are Solutions and Solubility? is a Jeopardy game-show parody starring a slew of characters straight out of the periodic table. The video has been nominated for a prize at the Orange County Film Fiesta, which is set for Oct. 12-29, screening date TBA.
The film includes many local, talented performers, including SAC Community Education Presenter and performer Marcia Fenno Bustos; Santa Ana-based voiceover actor Nathan Landmon; Grammy-nominated musician Eric Morones; and recently retired Coastline ROP Administrator J.S. Coke.
Xenon and Friends, as the talented team calls themselves, are thrilled to have their hard work recognized by Film Fiesta officials. Their animated series, only a few months old, is morphing into the Xenon and Friends STEAM-education project. The project hopes to garner more subscribers, as well as sponsors and partners, in order to remain economically viable while presenting free STEAM-education resources to the public.
For more information:
Béa Tomaselli Tiritilli: firstname.lastname@example.org
YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/@xenonandfriends
Xenon and Friends are on Instagram and Facebook. The team is looking for help targeting shorter versions of their videos for TikTok. Contact Béa Tomaselli Tiritilli for more information on this stipend-paid position.