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Chris M.


STEM Activities for… Earth Day and Summer Reading 2018

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Earth Day is on Sunday April 22. Need some ideas for Earth Day activities? The STEM Activity Clearinghouse is a great resource as is Star_Net.

Summer Reading 2018: Libraries Rock!

The Collaborative Summer Library Program’s Summer Reading theme is Libraries Rock! Listen to sounds of our Earth and beyond through Soundcloud.com.

Sounds of Nature (Bird Calls)

Spooky Sounds from Across the Solar System

Relaxing Rain and Loud Thunder

Howler Monkeys in Belize

Birdsongs of Australia

Find the sounds that make you rock out to science!

The Story of Snow

Book Recommendations and Activities for Youth and Families in Late Winter and Early Spring

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Book Recommendations and Activities for Youth and Families in Late Winter and Early Spring by Susan Olcott

Late winter in New England means a kind of limbo between seasons. You never know what it will be like out – snow or mud or something in between. When preparing to come into my girls’ classroom to teach a winter lesson, I had to be flexible. They had been working with patterns in their class as a part of an art project where they made quilt squares. We had become fascinated with quilts at home and read and reread Amy Novesky’s beautiful story of weaver and artist, Louise Bourgeois, Cloth Lullaby: The Woven Life of Louise Bourgeois. Her art reflects elements in nature like rivers and spiders and was a wonderful way to connect this art project to things observed outside. For the upcoming class lesson, I had planned to go outside and look at patterns of tracks in the snow – both animal and from their treaded snow boots. But, the snow did not cooperate to stick around long enough and softly enough for this.

Instead, I started the lesson by talking about snowflakes, which are full of neat symmetries. I brought in the fantastic book, The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter’s Wonder, to show them the crystalline photos of different types of snowflakes. Author-scientists Mark Cassino and Jon Nelson, Ph.D. share scientific details about the formation of these crystals without being too complex. We looked at the iconic star shaped ones as well as the tiny cylindrical crystals formed in the coldest of temperatures. Because we weren’t going to be looking at tracks in the snow, we spent a moment brainstorming what other patterns we might see outside. “Pinecones,” said one student. “Bark,” said another. I didn’t even have those on my list of possibilities! Once outside, they continued to notice patterns everywhere – in the clouds, in the ice, and in fallen leaves.

Needing to warm up a bit, we decided to see what human patterns we could make like a spiral, a pair of stripes, and a circle alternating boys with girls. Then, I divided them up into groups of six to make human snowflakes. One group held mittened hands in the center of a circle, another lay on their backs with feet in the air, and a third sat up back to back and raised their arms over head. They were all as unique as snowflakes.

We followed up in the classroom by asking the students to create their own nature patterns with simple supplies. We started with a piece of white paper and colored pencils. When a student asked for scissors and tape, I thought she might cut out a snowflake, but I was surprised instead to see her make her paper into a tube and cut slits in it. She unrolled it and rubbed her pencils over the newly formed bumps in the paper to make a wave-like pattern. We then did an indoor “nature walk” where everyone shared their creations, all of them different and all full of imagination.

Susan is a contributor to the Cornerstones of Science newsletter, a blogger for the Horn Book’s Family Reading Blog, and more!


NASA at my library Denver

NASA@ My Library Workshop in Denver, CO

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A training workshop recently took place on February 28-March 1 in Denver for those partner libraries and state library agencies on the NASA@ My Library project. Cornerstones specifically trained the 75 partner libraries and 4 state library agency partners on a 4.5” reflector telescope that the libraries will receive in a future hands-on science kit built especially for this project. Cornerstones also worked closely with the state libraries to gain a better understanding about how they work with subject matter experts and on how science kits can reach public libraries around their state through a circulation system.

Space Shuttle

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Moon — We Discovered Earth!

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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Moon — We Discovered Earth!

Date: 4/30/2018
Start Time: 5:30 PM
End Time: 7:00 PM

Location: Curtis Memorial Library, Brunswick

In collaboration with Maine Space Day and Curtis Memorial Library, Cornerstones of Science is hosting Brian Ewenson, an aerospace expert and educator, who will present on the awe-inspiring aspects of the Earth. This free public presentation is a great way to expand upon Earth Day and to think about everyday as Earth Day.


In 1968, the first time astronauts left the confines of Earth orbit, we saw our home planet in its entirety for the first time. While reaching for the Moon, we came back with a much greater appreciation of the fragility of planet Earth and it provided us a platform to observe the seasons and cycles of the planet, as well as natural and man-made changes. Come along on a voyage to the home planet, explore the continents, discover a world without lines on a map, and test your geography skills.

Brian Ewenson is recognized as a top aerospace expert in Canada and NASA’s Space programs. He shares his experiences as an aerospace educator with over 100,000 youth each year across North America in a hands-on/minds-on presentation using authentic space program hardware.

With 25 years spent collecting memorabilia and supporting manned space flight, Brian has amassed one of the largest collections of space-related memorabilia in North America. He has launched community artifacts and designed youth experiments that have flown on five shuttle missions and has hosted over 25 astronaut appearances. Brian recently directed partner activities for a world-wide space education program called “Space Day”.  He has designed, developed and interpreted four permanent museum exhibits, including participation in Spaceport Calgary, the World’s first permanent air and space education facility located in an international airport. Brian regularly appears in newspapers, and on radio and TV as a space expert with CTV, CBC and CNN Headline News Local Edition.


“Recognized as one of the top space educators in Canada”- Calgary Herald October 17, 1998

“Kids get a lesson out of this world” – Montreal Gazette January 16, 2003

“This (presentation) was very detailed, I thought they just buckled their seatbelts and went…I felt like I was on a trip myself” – (Grace Chow Grade 5 Student) Montreal Gazette Jan.16, 2003

“He (Brian) took them from launch to landing of the shuttle, captivating his audience with slides, video and hands-on demonstrations, as “oohs” and “ahhs” erupted from the excited crowd”- Daily Mail, Hagerstown, Maryland Feb.2, 2003

“Citizens of the Universe… title, perhaps not inappropriate for Ewenson’s young audience…if they take anything away from today’s assembly, it is this: Reach for the Stars, and one day, you will get them.” – Picket News, Tri-State, Washington County, Maryland Feb.2, 2003

Spaceport Sheboygan, WI (Director of Education)
Board of Directors Scientek-12 Foundation
Arizona Aerospace Foundation
Instrumentation Technology Associates, Inc. (Consultant Student Outreach)
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (Educator Associate/ Officer of Tucson AIAA)
National Air and Space Society (Member)
Space Day (Former Director of Partner Activities)Alexandria, Virginia 22311
Aerospace Museum of Calgary (Former Director of Education)
Canadian Space Agency (Former Communications/Education Outreach employee)
City of Calgary Educator of the Year 2000

Climate Change

Facing the Future: Facilitating Climate Conversations at Your Library

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Date: 5/1/2018
Start Time: 9:30 AM
End Time: 3:00 PM

Location: Topsham Public Library

Cornerstones of Science is sponsoring ten spaces in this wonderful training for librarians. To receive a sponsored spot, contact the Cheryl Ramsay at the Maine State Library. Those who receive a sponsorship agree to 1) report on how they used the training in their library, and 2) contribute to a follow-up discussion on this training at the MSLA 2019 meeting.


From the news that earth surface temperatures hit a record high in 2016, to a presidential administration that denies the effect fossil fuels play in climate change, we are inundated with stories and images about climate change. And yet authentic face-to-face conversations about climate change (with family, friends, neighbors, colleagues) are rare. According to the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, “more than half of those who are interested in global warming or think the issue is important ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ talk about it with family and friends.”

In this experiential, interactive training, participants will learn why dialogue about climate change is critical to creating a brighter future, and how librarians can facilitate dialogues that empower our communities to be better equipped to respond, adapt, and mitigate the effects.

You will be guided through the creation of a “Climate Change Communications Toolbox” to facilitate dialogue and host “Climate Change Conversations” within your library community.
You will:
• Learn how to create and host “Climate Change Conversations” at your library.
• Share ideas for archiving and exhibiting artifacts created in workshops.
• Brainstorm ideas for building community partnerships.
• Learn why resilience and social capital are critical for communities to thrive and endure, and how libraries can help communities build both.
• Experience mindfulness exercises as a tool for “re-wiring” the brain to stabilize the nervous system.
• Explore your own thoughts and feelings about climate change through storytelling and reflective writing.

9:30-10:00 Coffee and Networking
10:00-12:00 Morning Session
12:00-1:00 Lunch
1:00-3:00 Afternoon Session

Fee: There is a $20 charge for this event to defray the cost of refreshments and lunch. Please make checks payable to: Treasurer, State of Maine (please note: checks not made out this way will be returned for reissue).

Mail checks to (include your name with check so we register the correct person):
Cheryl Ramsay
Maine State Library
64 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333

About the Instructor
A 2017 Library Journal Mover & Shaker, Madeleine Charney is the Sustainability Studies Librarian at the University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries. She helped launch Talking Truth: Finding Your Voice Around the Climate Crisis, a collaborative, campus-wide project that facilitates contemplative experiences in which to explore this global threat. She is co-founder of SustainRT: Libraries Fostering Resilient Communities, the newest round table under ALA. She is a Master Gardener, certified in Permaculture Design, and helped start up her local chapter of Mothers Out Front: Mobilizing for a Liveable Climate. Madeleine holds an MLS from University of Rhode Island (1991) and an MA in Sustainable Landscape Planning and Design (2003).


ALA2018 Conference

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Explore tech exhibit picture

From Take Home Telescopes to Fancy Cake Pans, Maine Libraries Have What You Want

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A recent Bangor Daily News article highlights some of the great things libraries are circulating now (besides books). Cornerstones was interviewed for this article and mentions one of the ways we work with librarians to help increase interest in science in our communities.

From take home-telescopes to fancy cake pans, Maine libraries have what you want


Explore tech exhibit picture

Explore Tech Exhibit: Engineers Make a World of Difference

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Explore Tech Exhibit: Engineers Make a World of Difference

At Curtis Memorial Library

Brunswick, ME

October 28 – December 29, 2017

Join Curtis Memorial Library Saturday, October 28 from 10:30 am to 2:30 pm, for the opening event of the Explore Tech Exhibit. The event will be a day of engineering experiences and conversations with local engineers. An array of hands-on activities and challenges will encourage playful learning. Visitors will meet entrepreneurs from TechPlace, Brunswick Landings’ Business Incubator Technology Accelerator and other local innovators. Cornerstones of Science will also be on hand assisting with activities.

Explore tech exhibit pictureExplore Tech: Engineers Make a World of Difference, a traveling exhibition for libraries, is part of the STAR Library Education Network (STAR_Net) led by the National Center for Interactive Learning at the Space Science Institute. Exhibit partners include the American Library Association, the Lunar and Planetary Institute, and Afterschool Alliance. Explore Tech is supported through a grant from the National Science Foundation.

Curtis Memorial Library was chosen as one of fourteen sites and will host the exhibit through December 29, 2017, in the library’s Collaboratory.

This exhibit shows how engineering provides solutions to better meet human needs and develops sustainable innovations for the future, and how engineers create new technologies to solve problems. It features hands-on and multimedia components that allow exhibit visitors to interact with exhibit content in a dynamic way, encouraging new perspectives about engineers and their vital work.

Visitors will become familiar with the National Academy of Engineering’s 14 Grand Challenges for Engineering, critical issues that must be addressed in the 21st century. They will also learn about the fundamental principles of energy, become aware of their own energy use, and understand the impact of engineering on societies over time and place.

The exhibit includes three areas: Engineering: Past, Present, and Future, High Tech/Low tech, and Power Up! Creating a Sustainable Energy Future. The exhibit will include a touchscreen computer kiosk that contains a several games that will engage children and adults. Some of the interactive experiences include Game Changers, which is about the Grand Challenges, along with a Quiz game.

During the exhibit period, the library will host several programs for adults, teens and children. Here are the first few:

Saturday, November 4 at 10 am: Meet the Robots—An interactive robotics program presented by Robotics Institute of Maine.

Wednesday, November 8 at 6 pm: Bowdoin Women in Computer Science Panel Presentation cosponsored by the American Association of University Women.

The Fall Science Read at the library will be Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly. This is the phenomenal true story of the black female mathematicians at NASA whose calculations helped fuel some of America’s greatest achievements in space. Multiple copies of the book will be available in October and programs to enhance patrons’ reading of the book are scheduled for November and December. — Pamela Bobker



Hannaford Helps

Hannaford Helps ME Bag

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Hello Maine Community and Beyond,

Hannaford HelpsFor the entire the month of September Cornerstones of Science will receive $1 from each Hannaford Helps bag (Good Karma bag only) purchased at the Hannaford located in Brunswick, ME. This is an amazing opportunity for Cornerstones of Science not only to raise funds, but to also spread awareness about our cause within the community.

Hannaford helps bagPlease show your support by purchasing these beautifully designed reusable bags! They can be found on the reusable bag rack and at various registers. As a reminder, the Hannaford Helps bag features the good karma message.  We strongly encourage you to share this news with family and friends as well!

For more information about the program, please visit www.hannaford.bags4mycause.com.

Our goal is to sell 1,000 bags to support our Library Science Trunk Program, which would allow 30 science trunks filled with hands-on science activities to be delivered to public libraries around the state of Maine. We are confident that with the help of our dedicated supporters, we can reach this goal during our month in the program and further carry out our mission.

Thank you for your support,

Cynthia Randall
Cornerstones of Science
Executive Director

Hannaford Helps ME Bag