Over 300 people attended this year’s annual Science Day event, celebrated at Central Library on March 30, 2013. Now in its 8th year, the theme of Dinosaurs made this our BIGGEST success yet. Science Day is the brainchild of the Friends of Children and Literature (also known as FOCAL) the friends group for the Children’s Literature Department. They organize and sponsor this event in memory of Peggy and Merv Miller, a local science teacher and librarian. Science and libraries- it’s a natural pairing that feeds kids’ curiosity through hands-on learning and provides them with a variety of high quality books to check out and take home for further exploration.
This year’s participants had the opportunity to see Richard Wade, a long-time performer for LAPL, present his “Last Days of the Dinosaurs” show (above). He captivated audiences young and old with an extraordinary amount of information in a mere 45 minutes. In his entertaining and enthusiastic way, Mr. Wade taught us how fossils were formed, how paleontologists make their discoveries, that birds are actually related to dinosaurs, and that T-Rex probably didn’t stand upright. We also learned what happened to make the dinosaurs become extinct. You’ll need to see the show or come to the library to find out!
Meanwhile, outside under a bright blue sky on a perfect 70-degree day, hands-on projects, activities, and experiments were underway in the Thornton and Children’s Courtyards. We had young scientists from Paseo del Rey Natural Science Magnet School share their best Science Fair projects with us in a “Meet the Scientist” interactive exhibit. We had children digging for fossils, looking at rocks and minerals under microscopes, testing the weight and buoyancy of various types of rocks, and making their own mini-earthquakes. There were dinosaurs galore to play with and learn about and children even got to create their own prehistoric dioramas to take home. The day wouldn’t have been complete without a story or two or three. Ms. Debra, one of our fabulous STAR volunteers, entertained crowds with some dino-mite stories while children got to dig for dinosaurs in buckets of sand.
This free educational event provides children from birth to age 12 an opportunity to explore and experiment in a safe and welcoming environment. The amazing crew of volunteers, many of whom are educators or librarians themselves, ranges from teens to retirees, making this a successful cross-generational collaboration as well.
The critical need for early STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education is stronger than ever and Science Day is just one of the ways in which LAPL is meeting that demand. The children’s librarians at Central Library and a few select branches are currently being trained by the California Science Center on how to include early childhood science education into the library’s programming and storytime schedule. Keep on the look-out for a series of science-themed preschool storytimes coming later this year at Central Library. If you are interested in learning more about Science Day, joining FOCAL, or helping to organize and support next year’s event, please visit www.focalonline.org or call Senior Librarian, Madeline Bryant at 213-228-7251.