News from Youth Services

News from Youth Services Blog

Maker Monday: Build a Braced Tower

John Hancock Center

Photo of John Hancock Center by Drew Hays on Unsplash

February’s STEAM at Home program featured Awesome Architecture and fun building activities. We learned that x-bracing (seen here on the John Hancock Center in Chicago) is one way that helps keep buildings straight and tall when wind blows on them. X-braces and shear walls collect wind forces and carry them to the foundation. Build your own braced tower at home with a few simple materials! Idea and images from Building Structures and Towers by Tammy Enz.

  • Supplies:
  • spaghetti
  • mini marshmallows (the book shows gumdrops, but we used marshmallows)
  • ruler (optional)

Instructions:

Break 4 noodles in half and make sure they are roughly the same length. Put marshmallows in the corners to connect them into 2 squares.

null

Break off about 1 inch from 4 more noodles and use these to connect your 2 squares. What happens when you push on the tower?

null

Add 2 noodles to one side make an X. Repeat on all 4 sides of your tower. Try pushing again. Now what happens?

null

As the marshmallows harden, your structure will get even stronger. What other structures can you build?

For more books and projects that explore engineering, check out one of these STEAM Kits.

Winter Reading Badges

Look at all those badges! Monty the Mount Prospect Duck has been busy reading and doing activities for Winter Reading. You have until February 28 to try to earn as many (or more) badges than Monty!

Monty the MPPL duck with his winter reading badges

Which ones are your favorites?

attend a virtual event

Attend a virtual event

stack of books

Chill out & read

Listen to a story

Listen to a story

island with palm trees

Warm up with reading

people doing yoga

Let’s get moving

Hot_Cocoa

Get cozy

Reading takes you places

Reading takes you places

Experiment_with_Art

STEAM

bookshelf

Find a good book

Book review: Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks

Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks by Suzanne Slade, illustrated by Cozbi Cabrera  

J B BROOKS, G. 

Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks by Suzanne Slade book cover

Discover the life and legacy of this famous Chicagoan in a biography that is beautiful to read and look at. 

Gwendolyn Brooks grew up on the South Side of Chicago in a family that didn’t have much money, but was rich in love and books. Hearing her father read poems made her want to write her own poetry, and her parents truly believed in her dream to become a great poet. Her first poems were published when she was only 11, but writing poetry didn’t help her make friends or pay bills once she became an adult. But still she wrote and wrote, and before long, she won the greatest prize in poetry, the Pulitzer Prize! Her poems were about her life on the South Side of Chicago, and about the inequalities she and her neighbors faced because they were Black. 

I loved learning about Gwendolyn’s life in this quick, award winning read with gorgeous illustrations. I bet you will too! 

-Review by Claire B, Youth Outreach Librarian

Maple Syrup Season

buckets collecting sap from maple trees in winter

Beginning in the middle of February and stretching into mid March, the Sugar Maple trees begin to prepare for spring by sending sap up to their branches to fuel the spring growth.  This is one of the first signs of spring in the forest and marks maple syrup season.  On days where the nights are freezing and the days are in the 40s the sap will flow up the tree. Once it is still above freezing overnight, the sap will turn cloudy and can no longer be used for syrup.  At this point the tree will begin spring growth.  

Maple syrup is made by collecting the sap from a maple tree, usually a sugar maple, and boiling it to allow the water to evaporate and concentrate the sugar.  Once enough water has evaporated, the sap becomes syrup.   

Sugar Maple trees are tapped because their sap has the highest concentration of sugar, but even so it takes 40 to 50 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.  Straight from the tree, the sap looks like water and has a barely noticeable sweet taste.   

To see photos and videos of the maple syruping process, visit: https://vermontevaporator.com/learn/sugaring-for-beginners/ 

To learn more making (and eating) maple syrup, check out these books!

Almost Time book cover
Bear Goes Sugaring book cover
Hey, Pancakes book cover
How is Maple Syrup Made book cover
Maple Syrup Season book cover
Maple Syrup from the Sugarhouse book cover
Pancakes in Pajamas book cover
From Maple Tree to Syrup book cover
Pancakes, Pancakes book cover

 

National Portrait Gallery and Black History Month

portraits of African Americans in National Portrait Gallery

Let’s visit the National Portrait Gallery without even leaving the house! Google arts and culture has created a virtual exhibit of notable African Americans, which is a great exhibit to explore any time, but especially during Black History Month.

To extend your experience, we’ve put together a list of books about some of the famous figures featured in this virtual art exhibit. Place a hold or come to the main library to check one out!