Hands-On Science

Florida has many adventures for your budding scientist. Explore many hands-on experiences.  Do you have a budding astronaut at home?  Are you looking for Science experiences to bring back to your teachers?  Is science just “your thing”?  These local experiences will not disappointment.

Orlando Science Center

Orlando Science Center attracts nearly 400,000 visitors each year with dynamic and engaging content. The goal has always been to personalize the guest experience; demonstrating how science impacts everyday life. Structured programming ranges from on-site experiences that utilize exhibits, theatrical performances, classes, and events, to off-site educational programs in the schools.


Open:  Thur – Tues 10am – 5pm, Closed Wed

Admission:  $19.95 Adult, $13.95 Child, Florida Teachers free with Valid credentials

Admission includes 4 floors of intereactive exhibit galleries, films in the Dr. Philips CineDome, Digital Adventure Theatre and Science Live!  Admission also includes one Hollywood Movie per visit.

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is where you can see the largest rocket ever flown, touch a moon rock, meet an astronaut, and stand nose-to-nose with shuttle Atlantis all in the same day. Make it a more memorable experience by having lunch with an astronaut!


Open:  9am – 7 pm daily

Admission: Prices begin at $50 Adult, $40 Child.  Lunch with an Astronaut $29.99 Adult, $15.99 Child

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Public Library Association (PLA) Conference News-Teen Services

“Challenge yourself at #PLA2016 to be extraordinary because extraordinary libraries
create extraordinary communities.”  This was the theme for the bi-annual conference and it seemed to have genuinely expressed just that.

I began the conference by leading a preconference titled “Emerging Adults in Our Libraries: Who are They and Where do we Find Them?” and while the theme doesn’t specifically pertain to teen services I think a lot of teen librarians (and this was part of the impetus for the research for the presentation) will attest to the reality that this is something they see and think a lot about with serving teens; what happens to them in terms of services and programs after they “age out” of teen services?  This was a central focus of the research that myself and three other librarians embarked upon in 2015 by launching a nation wide survey into the work libraries are doing with and for emerging adults (ages 18-25/30).  The presentation at PLA introduced our research findings, had participants do an activity based on real life scenarios we heard from librarians with our research, participants shared out possible solutions and then an expert panel spoke about the work they are doing with emerging adults and their families as well.  Tomas Mejia, Director of Migrant Education at the Department of Education, Colorado, Clayton Gonzalez, Director of Programs, Urban Peak (a Denver, Colorado nonprofit that provides a full convergence of services for youth age 15 through 25 experiencing homelessness or at risk for becoming homeless) and Alberto Pellicer, Early Literacy Librarian, Denver Public Library.  A blog has been created that includes information from the preconference, articles about this population, outreach to this population, and opportunities for other librarians to share the work they are doing with this population.

The Bubbler @ Madison Public Libraries: A System-Wide Approach to Learning through Making was a great introduction into the work that Madison, Wisconsin Public Library is doing with and for peoples of all ages with technology programming, DIY programs, an artist in residence program and more.  The Bubbler is a program and not a specific space, the programs take place in the Central Library, the 7 branches, schools, juvenile justice centers and in the community.  There is a BIG focus on this kind of work with teens in schools, in the library and in the juvenile justice system and this is a library recognized effort.  Making Justice  is a community-based learning program for court-involved teens that includes weekly workshops and an artist-in-residence opportunity.  They are doing all kinds of programming opportunities for teens involved in the juvenile justice system with music programming, bringing in hand drawn animation stations and more.  The Bubbler is through an IMLS and NEA grants. Check out the Teen Bubbler site.

making justice

I visited the Denver Public Library and had a chance to see the Idea Lab in action during time for teens in the space; Monday through Friday 3:00-6:00 pm.  The SM Energy ideaLAB is a makerspace and digital media lab at the Central Library. With equipment and software, people can make videos, games, music, art, crafts, and more. The lab is free to anyone – no library card necessary!  Not too many barriers for teens to use the space in terms of not having a library card, no problem.

Sustainable Connected Learning for Youth focused on the initiative that the Cuyahoga County Library System has rolled out as a pilot in five locations with Connected Learning. The Information and Technology Department spearheaded this initiative by training staff in the focus areas of Connected Learning as well as provided ideas and worked with staff in identifying program ideas like STEAM programming, mentoring/social component and on the fly programming.

The article in School Library Journal in March 2016 introduced some of us to the work Denver Public Library is doing with asset mapping and I joined the session, Teen Asset Mapping: A Community Development Approach to Teen Services Expansion to learn more about what they are doing.  The Director of Denver Public Library and a staff consisting of librarians (one being the only Teen Librarian on the staff at DPL) and library associates worked tirelessly on this project beginning in 2013 with the idea that they weren’t providing teen services and wanted to but what would that look like in a city with a strong number of organizations that do provide teen services/programs.  The idea was to identify what the assets for teens are in Denver; this would be outside library organizations and find out what exactly they are doing with and for teens.  They developed questions and interviewed over 40 organizations and through the responses created a list of categories like juvenile justice system, teen parents, homeless youth, along with services/programs being provided.  What came out of the research was a better understanding of what services/programs there were in Denver and what services/programs weren’t being offered and what needs there may be.  The staff at DPL did an incredible amount of work on this and they are accessible; contact them through the link above as well as check out the resources they have available for more in depth information.

Registration for YALSA’s 2016 Young Adult Services Symposium now open

feature-slides-reg-openRegistration for YALSA’s 2016 Young Adult Services Symposium, which takes place Nov. 4-6 in Pittsburgh, is now open. Individuals can register for the symposium with early bird rates now through Sept. 15, 2016.

Early bird rates are as follows:

  • $199 YALSA Personal Member
  • $199 Pennsylvania Library Association Members
  • $199 Pennsylvania School Librarians Association Members
  • $249 ALA Personal Member
  • $310 Nonmembers
  • $59 Students (enrolled full-time in a library program)

Register early to take advantage of up to $50 in savings. Registration includes:

  • Opening session and reception Friday evening
  • Educational programming Saturday and Sunday
  • Option to register for additional events
  • Access to a free webinar
  • Certificate of participation with your contact hours
  • Snack breaks Saturday and Sunday
  • Symposium tote bag

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Are you a nature-loving, trail riding, hiking adventure kind of traveler?  We have those eco-friendly experiences right here in Florida.  Make the most of your visit to Florida and enjoy some Florida eco-fun as well.

Forever Florida

Forever Florida is a unique eco-tourism attraction located in St. Cloud, Florida; just one hour southeast of Orlando. Departing from a picturesque Florida cattle and horse ranch, guest’s journey deep into the 4,700-acre Forever Florida Wildlife Conservation Area.  Enjoy a horseback, zipline, or coach safari. The profits from these adventures fund the Allen Broussard Conservancy that seeks to preserve Florida lands and species.


The Florida Trail

More than 1,000 miles of scenic trails traverse the state along The Florida Trail. The section of the trail that passes through central Florida and Kissimmee takes serious hikers into the heart of Florida’s cattle country and the Kissimmee River floodplain. Pick up the trail at one of 12 trailheads that access 100 miles of natural beauty. At Yates Marsh, stroll through pine forests and open prairie, thickets of palm and open cattle ranches. Hit the trail at the Chandler Slough trailhead and walk under a canopy of live oaks and weave in and out of wetlands. The trail also follows the route of the Kissimmee River and heads through the bird-rich Kissimmee Prairie and by numerous area lakes.



Alligator and crocodile park with free-fligh aviary, petting zoo, and animal shows.   Gatorland has the exciting “Trainer for a Day” experience where you can experience what it takes to be able to work with and around dangerous animals.


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Adventure Experiences in Florida, or You Did What! While You Were at Annual Conference

We may be librarians, but that doesn’t mean we spend all our time behind a circulation desk.  If you have a sense of adventure or a need for speed, maybe one of these activities are just ticket for a break from annual conference.

Indoor Trampolines –

*Rebounderz – Indoor Trampoline Arena

6725 South Kirkman Road, Orlando, FL 32819


Admission:  All Access Unlimited Pass $38.99 +Jumps Socks $2.75


*Airheads – Indoor Trampoline Arena

33 West Pineloch Ave., Orlando, FL 32806


Admission:  Unlimited Jumping: $19.95 + Grip Socks: $2.99                                                                                                                   

*Jumpers 2 & Under: 50% off Admissions – Not combinable with other existing deals


Indoor Sky Diving –

*IFLY Orlando — Experience true free fall conditions, just like skydiving, without having to jump out of an airplane. iFLY’s vertical wind tunnel creates a wall-to-wall cushion of air on which you can safely float. There’s no parachute, no jumping and nothing attaching you to planet Earth. It’s just you and the air, and it’s the most incredible adrenaline rush.

6805 Visitors Circle, Orlando FL 32819


Admission:  Price Packages, see website for details

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Get to Know the Real Orlando Area Neighborhoods and Haunts, Part 4

Orlando is a city of neighborhoods; each with their own distinct character and appeal.  To truly enjoy Orlando, venture off International Drive and explore the diversity of Orlando through its neighborhoods.

College Park

College Park, where many bungalow-lined streets (Harvard, Yale, Vassar, etc.) are named for famed institutions of higher learning. Ground zero for shopping, dining and nightlife is the intersection of Princeton and Edgewater – CP’s de facto “Main Street.”


Truffles and Triffles—Take a cooking class.  http://trufflesandtrifles.com/


Jack Kerouac House—are you a budding writer and need to spend some focused time working on your craft.  Check out the Kerouac Project.  http://www.kerouacproject.org/


Dechoes Resale Emporium– this enterprise is upscale and filled with high-end merchandise. Filled with cardigans, funky knickknacks, vintage tees, granny dresses, shoes, hats, jewelry, and belts, this store is a treasure trove of style. You can also sell them your own things for cash, but note that their standards are very high.


Infusion Tea– Bright cafe & shop provides light vegetarian fare & a tea selection highlighting organic blends. http://www.infusionorlando.com/

Les Petit Pleasures—authentic French bakery, crepes, croissants, and café au lait.

The Soda Fountain– an old-fashioned soda fountain experience. They serve ice cream, shakes and malts. http://www.thesodafountain.com/


Ollie’s Public House— tattooed hipsters of varying generations happily share space with jersey-clad sports fans and young suburban parents with wee ones in tow, any of whom might be enjoying one of the televised games. Ollie’s is a clean, comfortable space, serving up a decidedly local’s-joint kind of vibe that’s offset by a simple but surprisingly creative roster of food and drink.  http://www.olliespublichouse.com/

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Get to Know the Real Orlando Area Neighborhoods and Haunts, Part 3

Orlando is a city of neighborhoods; each with their own distinct character and appeal.  To truly enjoy Orlando, venture off International Drive and explore the diversity of Orlando through its neighborhoods.

Mills 50

Centered on the intersection of Mills Avenue (SR 15) and Colonial Drive (SR 50) and affectionately called Little Saigon by locals.  Described as Orlando’s intersection of culture and creativity, this hipster hub fosters a mix of artists, restaurants, businesses, specialty shops, markets and bars. You’ll know you’re in the right place when you see larger-than-life surrealist graffiti and murals covering walls, dumpsters and electric boxes.


Dandelion Communitea Café– a vegetarian teahouse set in a historically refurbished and colorful, bungalow-style home. Check out the “Dandy” for nightly events and performances as well as monthly full- and new-moon parties and drum circles. http://dandelioncommunitea.com/

BART–A family-owned and operated beer bar, arcade and art gallery, BART is located in the heart of Orlando’s trendy Mills 50 district. A rotating variety of classic video arcade games are almost all free and include everything from Pac-Man to Frogger. The cozy storefront bar also features an impressive selection of craft beers and wine.  http://bartcade.com/


Hawker’s Asian Street Fare—Their motto is “Eat the Streets”, featuring Asian style street vendor fare without leaving the neighborhood.  http://eathawkers.com/

Mamak Asian Street Food– offers delicious dining, carryout and delivery to Orlando, FL. Mamak Asian Street Food is a cornerstone in the Orlando community and has been recognized for its outstanding Chinese cuisine, excellent service and friendly staff. http://www.mamakasianorlando.com/

Pho88 –the signature dish is rice noodles in a savory soup served with paper-thin slices of beef that cook the moment they hit the broth, and it’s served with stalks of fresh cilantro, basil, lemon wedges and fresh bean sprouts. Be sure to get a creamy iced coffee for dessert.  Vietnamese Cuisine.  http://www.pho88orlando.com/

Little Saigon– Little Saigon Restaurant’s dishes are made from the best ingredients, freshest meats, and vegetables. They have a delicious selection of unforgettable Vietnamese dishes: rice vermicelli, popular pho (rice noodle soups), chicken with lemon grass, fish with ginger sauce, shrimp with tamarind sauce, and so much more! Vietnamese Cuisine.  http://www.littlesaigonrestaurant.com/

The Strand— The Strand was conceived as a small neighborhood restaurant featuring the “New Old,” contemporary interpretations of classic culinary fare. Seasonal dishes made from scratch, with daily Chef’s specials inspired by fresh ingredients. Craft beers and wines.  http://strandorlando.com/

Pig Floyd’s Urban Barbakoa– a sleek, Latin/Caribbean-inspired place specializing in Barbacoa served in tacos or on rolls.  http://www.pigfloyds.com/

Anthony’s Pizza –preparing Italian cuisine with the finest meats and cheeses, freshest ingredients, specially prepared dough and homemade sauces. http://anthonyspizza.com/

Tako Cheena– a hipster dive serving a delicious fusion of Korean and Mexican flavors wrapped inside tortillas.   http://www.takocheenaorlando.com/

Bubbles and Ice– makes a huge range of sweet boba drinks (the bubbles are chewy rounds of tapioca), and shaved ice with exotic toppings such as sweet red bean, coconut or fresh tropical fruit.  https://www.facebook.com/bubblesandice

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Get to Know the Real Orlando Area Neighborhoods and Haunts, Part 2

Orlando is a city of neighborhoods; each with their own distinct character and appeal.  To truly enjoy Orlando, venture off International Drive and explore the diversity of Orlando through its neighborhoods.

The Milk District

Centered around the landmark T.G. Lee Dairy, site of one of the largest milk producers in the state, this hip, bohemian stomping ground features a variety of popular bars, casual eateries, boutique shops and live music venues.


Sportstown Billards –Established in 1958 in Orlando’s Milk District, Sportstown Billiards was responsible for launching Central Florida’s craft-beer craze in the late 2000s. Serving over 250 craft beers, a full menu of bar fare and an expansive array of arcade and board games, Sportstown is more than a pool hall. Tables can be rented by the hour, and there’s also ping pong, air hockey, basketball shootout, darts and foosball.  http://sportstownbilliards.com/


Beefy King — Serving the BEST Roast Beef sandwich for over 40 years!  Offering a variety of mouthwatering Roast Beef, Ham, Turkey, Pastrami, Corned Beef, Bar BQ Beef and Bar BQ Pork all served hot, fresh and made to order! http://beefyking.com/

Tasty Tuesdays– A solid rotation of 12 trucks convene for Tasty Tuesday, with over 30 food trucks each month. While trucks serve food at the weekly meet up, The Milk Bar, Spacebar, Sandwich Bar, and Etoile Boutique all open their doors to guests at the event. Trucks convene rain or shine, so bring an umbrella if the weather is bad or enjoy the indoor seating. Visitors are encouraged to grab plates from multiple trucks and give everything a try. Share amongst friends and family to get a taste of all the different culinary options offered. Tasty Tuesdays are located in the Milk District. Trucks are parked in the back lots of 2424-2432 E. Robinson Street between Bumby & Primrose.


Milk Bar– Great little beer bar in the Milk District. They have a couple video game consoles that are available to play for free and are a nice distraction if you’re waiting for someone to arrive. Bar tenders aren’t snobs, but knowledgeable and friendly.

Bull & Bush—oldest authentic pub in Orlando.  Cold beer and warm atmosphere, best darts in town.  http://www.bullandbushorlando.com/

Drunken Monkey Coffee Bar– Drunken Monkey Coffee Bar was conceived as a college-town coffeehouse. The coffee is top shelf only, fair trade and organic or rain forest alliance.  Coffee is roasted in house.  All of our gourmet soups are drummed up fresh in our kitchen.  Lots of veggie and vegan choices as well as non-veggie foods. Serving breakfast and lunch foods all day including great quiches, grilled wraps and panini that will keep you coming back for more. Try the ANZAC COOKIES.  http://drunkenmonkeycoffee.com/

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Get to Know the Real Orlando Area Neighborhoods and Haunts, Part 1

Orlando is a city of neighborhoods; each with their own distinct character and appeal.  To truly enjoy Orlando, venture off International Drive and explore the diversity of Orlando through its neighborhoods.

Thornton Park

With its brick streets, moss-covered oaks, European-style shops and charming bungalows, Thornton Park on the banks of Lake Eola is a feast for the eyes!  After spending whole morning at the conference and an afternoon at the pool, spend the evening walking around Thornton Park and grab a dinner. Thornton Park was great for that purpose.  It is an 18-minute cab ride from International Drive.


SoCo– Southern contemporary cuisine with the menu designed by executive chef Greg Richie, acclaimed chef of Magnolias in Charleston and the Abbey in Atlanta.  Wholesome food presented in an environment of true southern hospitality, Soco offers guests the tradition of time-honored classics, combined with the excitement of the contemporary. Pork Belly Biscuits, need I say more.  http://www.socothorntonpark.com/

Dexter’s– A local’s established casual hangout that takes food and wine very seriously. Full bar, excellent service, and award winning Sunday brunch.  Build your own sandwich or enjoy a carefully prepared entree, everything is made fresh when you order it. The menu inserts and wine lists change every other month, so there is always something new and different to enjoy! Fusion cuisine, sidewalk cafe and menus for organics and local farm raised fruit, vegetables and meats.  http://thorntonpark.dexwine.com/dexters-winter-park/


The Falcon Bar and Gallery An independent and cutting edge experience in the arts & music in a bar setting. Enjoy the finest craft beers in Thornton Park District.

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Planning your Trip to Orlando Part 2– What to Bring to Florida and What to Leave at Home?

You received the announcement, “Registration is Open!”  I hope you have made your hotel reservation and registered for the conference.  Now, that you have made the commitment to attend Annual Conference in Orlando, on to some important questions…..what to pack and what to leave home?

The well-traveled librarian who has attended many conferences has immeasurable experience in this department. So, let’s start with the basics.  What to bring?

Step 1:  Clothes

          This is Florida.  Not the Florida you see on the Disney Channel, but the real Florida.  It will be hot.  It will rain nearly every day and the humidity is always 100%.  Add to the experience of our unique Florida weather, the fact that you will be walking A LOT.  So, in short, you will be loads more comfortable if you wear comfortable clothing and plan on changing them twice a day.

          The most popular conference attire here in Florida for the ladies is the simple blouse or cotton t-shirt (appropriately adorned with library ephemera), slacks, jeans, or skirt, and very comfortable shoes and for the gentlemen, polo or t-shirt (appropriately adorned with logos), slacks or jeans, and comfortable shoes. The true Florida natives (I am one) do not recommend flip flops, but a shoe or sandal with support.  A sweater or light jacket for the early morning chill of the conference hall is always good to have on hand.  Unless you are the keynote speaker, leave the blazers, suits, and ties at home, no one will be wearing them.  Don’t forget your bathing suit for a dip in the hotel pool, maybe a sundress or maxi dress or a button down shirt for a nice dinner or show on the town.

Step 2:  The Bag

          While you are in the convention center, it is a good idea to have a backpack or a strong tote bag, and a water bottle.  A small umbrella is good for keeping your hair dry during the daily showers should you decide to go outside of the convention center in the afternoon.  The following items are a must for any convention attendee:

  •       Cell phone
  •       Tablet or ipad or small notebook
  •       Business cards
  •       Address labels
  •       Snack
  •       ID, credit card, some cash, and conference badge

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