Friday, December 19, 2014

Ottawa Library explores the science of summer learning

6/9/2014

Why do things do what they do? How do they do it? Those “whys” and “hows” are common questions parents and teachers face from children intent on understanding how the world around them works. A fascination with science, if cultivated, can last a lifetime and yield smarter kids who desire to understand the complexity of the world around them, as well as fostering ever-important critical thinking skills.

Taking a break from school during the summer months doesn’t have to mean taking a break from learning too. Libraries offer the perfect opportunity for students and adults alike to learn in a non-school environment on a number of fascinating topics. This summer, the Ottawa Library is putting a fun spin on science through books and lots of hand-on activities. The library’s “Fizz Boom Read” kick-off event for children literally started off with a bang last week in Ottawa’s City Hall parking lot. Though bad weather threatened that day, more than 450 people turned out, signing up for one of three summer reading programs.

Why do things do what they do? How do they do it? Those “whys” and “hows” are common questions parents and teachers face from children intent on understanding how the world around them works. A fascination with science, if cultivated, can last a lifetime and yield smarter kids who desire to understand the complexity of the world around them, as well as fostering ever-important critical thinking skills.

Taking a break from school during the summer months doesn’t have to mean taking a break from learning too. Libraries offer the perfect opportunity for students and adults alike to learn in a non-school environment on a number of fascinating topics. This summer, the Ottawa Library is putting a fun spin on science through books and lots of hand-on activities. The library’s “Fizz Boom Read” kick-off event for children literally started off with a bang last week in Ottawa’s City Hall parking lot. Though bad weather threatened that day, more than 450 people turned out, signing up for one of three summer reading programs.

What makes the bottle of fizzy soda blow up when Mentos are added to it? How does photosynthesis happen? Why do certain chemicals react the way they do? Those are just a few of the topics kids got a taste of last week or are yet-to-experience at other planned activities this summer during the library’s summer reading effort. Those tactile programs use elements from candy and Legos to dry ice and batteries to build, deconstruct, rebuild and, more importantly, understand the whys and hows of certain elements and their reactions to other elements. The free programs will be at a variety of locations and taught by a number of different knowledgeable people. Some programs require registration because of a limited number of participants, so call the library at (785) 242-3080 for details.

The “Spark a Reaction” summer reading program offers teens the same opportunities to get engaged with books for news, education, entertainment and even infotainment. Teens can spark a reaction of their own from younger siblings who don’t get the same privileges as their brothers and sisters at the library this summer. Though the Ottawa Library closes at 1 p.m. Saturdays, it will be open 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on the second Saturday of each month for youths 12-18, who will have the library to themselves for hanging out with friends to read, use computers, play board games eat snacks and, even check out books. Forms must be on file at the library, so a little planning is necessary, but the special treatment is profound.

Adults don’t get left out of the fun with special “Literary Elements” programs for them, including Soda Fountains in Kansas (7 p.m. today at the Old Depot Museum), a poet laureate visit, a group reading and movie on a science fiction book and even a visit to the Powell Observatory in Louisburg are on tap this summer.

Why do the wacky scientists at the library do what they do? Attend one of their special events this summer and find out for yourself.

Jeanny Sharp,

editor and publisher

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