Flower

Town Hall Meetings: Direct Democracy in Action

Last week, my colleague Kim Carpenter and I attended a town hall meeting in our city to listen to Congressman Ted Deutch speak about issues that mattered to us on both a local and national scale.

Rep. Ted Deutch Town Hall Meeting

August 31, 2017: Town Hall Meeting with Congressman Ted Deutch (FL-21) at the Mae Volen Senior Center, Boca Raton, FL (Credit: Amy Shaw)

Town hall meetings have a long-standing tradition in America. The earliest recorded town hall meeting occurred in 1633 in Dorchester, Massachusetts. A form of direct democracy, town hall meetings give constituents the chance to speak openly and directly to elected officials and political candidates about issues that matter to them and their community. And, elected officials use this informal public assembly as an opportunity to gauge how their constituents feel about issues and policies.

While they are called town hall meetings, these meetings are not only held in town halls, but also in a variety of other locations, such as schools, libraries, and municipal buildings. In recent years, many politicians have begun experimenting with digital town hall meetings, as well.

The town hall we attended was held at the Mae Volen Senior Center in Boca Raton, Florida. The room was packed with several hundred people who raised many issues, including concerns about climate change, the Dream Act, President Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military and the need for research money for childhood cancer.  Rep. Deutch thanked the attendees for allowing him to hear first-hand what mattered to them and promised to take those concerns back to Washington.

Photo of Kimberly Carpenter and Amy Shaw with Rep. Ted Deutch

ProQuest editors Kimberly Carpenter (left) and Amy Shaw (right) enjoy meeting Rep. Ted Deutch after a town hall meeting (Credit: Kimberly Carpenter)

South Florida Congressman

Congressman Ted Deutch (D) represents the 22nd district of South Florida, which includes Palm Beach and Broward County. He is currently serving his fifth term in the 115th Congress and he’s also a member of the U.S. House of Representatives on the Judiciary, Foreign Affairs, and Ethics Committees. His priorities include environmental health, economic growth, and honor and dignity for veterans, among many others.

For more information about Ted Deutch, visit his website and learn all about his legislation, services, and student resources.

Bipartisan Efforts

In an increasingly politically polarized America, it was refreshing to hear Representative Deutch mention several bipartisan efforts in recent years, including the Climate Solutions Caucus, which he co-chairs with Congressman Carlos Curbelo (R-FL). The purpose of this caucus is to find solutions to sea level rise and the effects of climate change. Membership of this caucus consists of equal representation by Republicans and Democrats.

Developing Civic-Minded Students

How to Prepare for a Town Hall Meeting

Infographic: 6 Tips on How to Prepare for a Town Hall Meeting (Credit: Amy Shaw and Kimberly Carpenter)

As students are the next generation of citizens and voters, teachers should consider engaging them in the political process by having them attend a town hall meeting in their community or participate in a mock town hall meeting. To get your students started, print out our Infographic with tips on how to prepare for a town hall meeting.

Teachers can also direct students to eLibrary’s Research Topic pages on civics issues. A good starting point that showcases many of eLibrary’s civics Research Topics pages is ProQuest Research Topic Guide: Civics (U.S.).  SIRS Issues Researcher also includes Leading Issues on Government Ethics in addition to issues currently being discussed in town hall meetings (e.g., climate change, heroin abuse, and minimum wage). Below, we have also included links to town hall resources and lesson plans.

Town Hall Resources

Call to Action: Use to find and call your Congressional representative.

Find Your Representative: This site from the U.S. House of Representatives matches your ZIP code to your congressional district, with links to your member’s website and contact page.

Town Hall Project: Identifies Congressional town halls nationwide.

United States Senate Directory: provides information about former and current senators.

Lesson Plans

Town Hall Meeting: Drama-Based Instruction

Lesson Plan: Civic Engagement and Ways for Students to Get Involved

Our Town: Teaching Alternative Energy Sources and Decision-Making Through a Town Hall Meeting

Takeaways

  • All the personal stories that people shared with the crowd and how Ted Deutch responded with compassion and understanding for each one. Individuals were directed to staff members who would specifically help them find answers.
  • The age range of people attending. From elementary school students who recited the pledge, college students who lined up to ask questions to retired veterans who publicly asked for help with nursing home care.

Tweet Us!

Have your students participated in a town hall meeting? Let us know in the comments below or Tweet us at #ProQuest!

An Educational Solar Eclipse Road Trip

On August 21, 2017, people across the United States witnessed a once-in-a-lifetime astronomical event. Juliana Rorbeck, one of our ProQuest editors, traveled to Nashville, TN–the largest city along the path of totality–to observe the spectacular Great American Solar Eclipse firsthand.

Eclipse or Bust

When I first heard about a solar eclipse that would be visible from Oregon to South Carolina, I knew it would absolutely be worth seeing in person. After researching various cities along the path of totality–wherever the moon completely blocks out the sun–I chose Nashville. My fiancé and I decided to make a road trip of it.

A Shortage of Glasses

Seven days before the eclipse, most stores were already sold out of solar eclipse glasses. Certain online retailers were even caught selling fake pairs of glasses. With all of the information swirling around about how staring at the sun, even briefly, can cause permanent eye damage, this caused a bit of panic, especially in South Florida. After calling up four stores and going to five locations, we ended up finding our solar eclipse glasses at a 7-Eleven. Talk about a close call. Even though glasses are not necessary to view totality, the before-and-after views are equally spectacular and incredible. We were ready.

Hitting the Road

On Friday, Aug. 18th we rented a car and drove from Boca Raton, FL, to St. Augustine. Over the course of the weekend, we explored Savannah, walked through small towns in Georgia such as Waynesboro, spent the night in Athens, and drove around the Blue Ridge Mountains. In Blairsville, GA, I found a painted rock commemorating the eclipse.

Painted rock found in Blairsville, GA. (Credit: Juliana Rorbeck)

Eclipse rock. (Credit: Juliana Rorbeck)

For entertainment, I brought along some eclipse reading material and we prepared ourselves to look for certain phenomena such as the Baily’s beads effect. This happens when sunlight streams through the valleys and craters of the moon and the last brilliant blast of light creates the illusion of a massive diamond ring hovering in the sky.

The night before the eclipse we took in the sights around downtown Nashville. People had poured in from all over the country to celebrate. Since we had booked a flight home that departed soon after the eclipse ended, we realized that the Nashville International Airport would make for a fine eclipse viewing location.

The Eclipse

ProQuest editor Juliana Rorbeck awaits the eclipse with family in Nashville on Aug. 21, 2017. (Credit: Juliana Rorbeck)

On Monday afternoon we congregated outside one of the terminals with dozens of fellow travelers. I spoke with people who had traveled from as far as Maine and Puerto Rico to watch the event.

Then the sunlight grew dim. A minute before totality, just before 1:27 in the afternoon, there was an amazing shimmering effect that could be seen all over the ground. Suddenly everything looked as though we were underwater. People gasped and pointed. The air grew less hot, even cool, the midday summer heat gone within seconds. We saw a great diamond–Baily’s beads–and then the thinnest silver ring. The sun had vanished behind the moon. Completely.

People gather in front of the Nashville International Airport to record the Great American Eclipse during totality on August 21, 2017. (Credit: Juliana Rorbeck)

People took out their phones to try to record the moment. A few folks captured it on their cameras, but most people simply looked around in amazement. Some even cried. The best way I can describe it is by saying it was a 360-degree sunset. Dusk everywhere you looked. It was strange enough to spend so much time intently focusing on the brightest point in the sky, only for it to be plunged into darkness.

The edge of the sun peeked out from behind the moon. Before I could wrap my mind around what I’d seen, it was over.

From the Boca Raton Office

While Boca Raton did not fall under the path of totality for this eclipse, ProQuest editors got to see a partial eclipse at 2:57 pm.

This is an unfiltered photo taken by a cell phone camera of the partial eclipse. Notice the lens reflection on the bottom right.

(Credit: Jennifer Oms)

Shadows from leaves created hundreds of crescent shapes along the ground.

(Credit: Kimberly Carpenter)

Editor Jennifer Oms used a paper plate with a pinhole in the middle and a piece of paper on the ground to see the partial eclipse.

ProQuest Editor Jennifer Oms created a pinhole viewer to observe the partial eclipse. (Credit: Jennifer Oms)

Still Curious about the 2024 Eclipse or Other Space Sciences?

Check out SIRS Issues Researcher to learn more about space exploration.

Space Exploration & Travel Leading Issue in SIRS Issues Researcher

New Leading Issue: Private Space Sector

Private Space Sector Leading Issue via SIRS Issues Researcher

SIRS Issues Researcher’s new Leading Issue: Private Space Sector is out of this world!

The future of space travel is taking off with private companies. This action-packed Leading Issue will help students explore how the private sector is launching reusable rockets, hauling cargo to the International Space Station, and providing useful services to NASA. The private sector also wants to make space tourism happen by 2020.

Students don’t have to wait until college and career to gain experience with space science! Besides delving into the Private Space Sector Leading Issue, students can also learn about the space industry through hands-on experience. Explore the links below for opportunities for students to gain knowledge and experience with NASA and private sector programs.

 

NASA Programs:

  •  NASA Education’s page includes a wealth of knowledge for students and teachers through STEM education. Guidance for education includes an A-Z list of projects, design challenges, and opportunities for students to interact with NASA.
  • Current Opportunities for Students is also included in the NASA Education website. This page provides webcasts, contests, and lectures. It also lists scholarship and intern possibilities.
  • United Launch Alliance provides cost-effective launch services for NASA. They also provide an educational page on their website dedicated to students with rocket terminology and fun facts. Students can register to compete for a CubeSat satellite launch or look into the Intern Rocket Program.
  • Student Launch is a competitive rocket launching competition designed for students to learn the importance of teamwork while building a cost-effective reusable rocket. This NASA-conducted engineering design challenge provides resources and experiences for students and teachers.
  • SystemsGo is a NASA-endorsed program that helps students design rockets using STEM and teamwork. The site offers everything from educational video resources, launch events, and even how to start an aerospace program at school.
High school students from Texas participating in the SystemsGo aeroscience engineering program launch rockets in Willow City, Texas.

High school students from Texas participating in the SystemsGo aeroscience engineering program launch rockets in Willow City, Texas. Image via Ralph Arvesen on Flickr.

 

Private Sector Programs:

  • SpaceX‘s FIRST program awards students with scholarships as well as a chance for 10-15 high school seniors to become interns. Other programs include building and battling robotics for older students and a LEGO robot challenge for kids ages 9-14.
  • Virgin Galactic offers a Global Scholarship and Mentoring Program for students interested in STEM education.
  • Blue Origin offers an Astronaut Experience. Sign up for an experience on the New Shepard space vehicle.

How are your students exploring space science? Drop us a line in the comments section below or Tweet us at #ProQuest!

Fantastic Beasts and Where to…Celebrate the Movie

J.K. Rowling Research Topic in ProQuest eLibrary

J.K. Rowling wrote Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in 2001 while simultaneously writing the main Harry Potter series of novels. Devoted Potter fans will note that “Fantastic Beasts” actually makes an appearance in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone as the name of one of Harry’s required textbooks. Following the success of the Harry Potter movie franchise, Rowling makes her screenwriting debut in the prequel by the same name.

Eddie Redmayne

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Set in the 1920s, this adventure follows wizard Newt Scamander as he arrives in New York for a brief stay and No-Maj (American Muggle) Jacob Kowalski who accidentally lets some of Newt’s beasts escape from a briefcase. The ensuing endangerment takes place decades before Harry Potter steps foot into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Go experience your favorite characters come to life on the big screen starting Friday (November 18), or stop by your library or bookstore and pick up a copy of the book.

Newt Scamander

Photo credit: natalie419 via Foter.com / CC BY

We have compiled five ways that Muggles, Witches and Wizards alike can prepare for viewing what is bound to be pure magic!

1. Attend a Library Event

Check your local library or bookstore’s website and see if they are hosting any Potter-themed events. Here are some events we found:

Kent District Library

Lawrence Public Library

East Lansing Public Library


2. Create Your Own Butterbeer Recipe

After experimenting with a few different ingredients, this is the recipe we came up with:

  • 1 pint vanilla ice cream
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1 bottle cream soda (chilled)

Allow ice cream to soften. Blend softened butter, sugar, and spices in a bowl. Add to ice cream and freeze. Fill each glass with a scoop of ice cream mixture and pour cream soda over it. Enjoy!

ingredients

Butterbeer Ingredients – Minus the softened butter, which we had already melted in bowl behind the cream soda [Photo courtesy of Kimberly Carpenter]

butterbeer

Chilled Butterbeer [Photo courtesy of Kimberly Carpenter]

editors

Editors Kimberly and Juliana [Photo courtesy of Kimberly Carpenter]

 


3. Create Wizard Crafts

Create your very own magic with these crafts:

DIY Harry Potter Wands

DIY Wizard Suitcase

DIY Mirror of Erised


4. Design Your Own Fantastic Beast

Design your own Fantastic Beast by using SIRS Discoverer Animal Facts to research fascinating animals. Combine the physical description, behavior, and habitat of different animals to create your own creature. Create a drawing of your Fantastic Beast.


5. Museum Discoveries

Explore interactive events, programs, or see the movie in IMAX:

Museum of Fine Arts Boston

Harvard Museum of Natural History

Smithsonian

 

We’ll see you at the movie!

Libraries and Halloween STEAM

Libraries across the country are celebrating Halloween with spooky stories, devilish decorations, and clever costumes. Some are even adding an educational twist to the festivities through the use of enriching Halloween STEAM activities.

A handsome young scientist delighted with gooey green slime.

A handsome young scientist delighted with gooey green slime. [Photo Courtesy of Children’s Librarian Jennifer Boyce, Fairview Branch, Santa Monica Public Library]

What is STEAM?

STEAM is an acronym that stands for the integration of an A for the arts into STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) learning. STEAM activities help equip kids with essential 21st-century skills that will help prepare them for the job market. The creative arts component — the “A” — in STEAM activities can engage students and spark interest in science and technology. STEAM is especially useful for helping students develop skills that are necessary to prepare for creative industries, including digital games, software, design, and marketing. However, research reveals the importance for all employees, not just those in creative industries, to demonstrate creativity in the workforce.

Libraries to Inspire You

Are you working on a STEAM Halloween project and need a little inspiration? The libraries below caught our attention for adding STEAM to their Halloween.

Champaign Public Library:

Today (October 26), middle school and high school kids will be creating 3D pumpkins from 3:00 to 5:00 at the main library. Sarah Butt, the library associate we contacted at the Champaign Public Library in Champaign, Illinois, explained that she created a pumpkin template in a program called Sculptris. The kids are then able to use the tools and create faces for their pumpkins. Once they are finished, the files can be printed on the 3D printer and ready for the kids from the middle school next door to pick up.

Sculptris Pumpkin Template at Champaign Public Library [Photo Courtesy of Sarah Butt, Library Associate]

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STEAM 3D Printed Pumpkin at Champaign Public Library [Photo Courtesy of Sarah Butt, Library Associate]

Santa Monica Public Library (SMPL):

SMPL (Yes, the very same library we blogged about that has a summer beach library!) is also holding STEAM events at their Ocean Park and Fairview branches.

Ewok Launcher (marshmallow launcher)

Ewok Launcher (marshmallow launcher) [Photo courtesy of Youth Librarian Julia Casas, Ocean Park branch, Santa Monica Public Library]

Also today, in connection with Star Wars Reads, SMPL’s Ocean Park branch is holding a Star Wars STEAM program from 3:30 to 4:30 for kids and teens. Participants are encouraged to wear costumes at the event.

Rescue a Jedi from Carbonite STEAM activity

Rescue a Jedi from Carbonite STEAM Activity [Photo courtesy of Youth Librarian Julia Casas, Ocean Park branch, Santa Monica Public Library]

Youth librarian Julia Casas, who is coordinating the event, has planned several activity stations that will give kids the chance to explore science concepts at their own pace. Among the activities are an “Ewok Launcher” (marshmallow launcher), which helps kids to learn about force, motion and gravity, and a “Rescue a Jedi from Carbonite” (lego minifigs trapped inside a baking soda mixture), which explores chemical reactions.

Children’s librarian Jennifer Boyce let us know that on October 31, from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m., the Fairview Branch will be featuring a program, “STEAM Craft: Glow-in-the-Dark Slime,” for children ages four and up. According to Ms. Boyce, the program will explore science concepts (in this case, chemistry) in a “fun, unstructured way.” Fairview’s Halloween STEAM event is part of their monthly STEAM programs, which in the past have included events such as a DIY Girls Club that focused on creative electronics and a “Build with Minecraft” program.

North Mankato Taylor Library:

north-mankato-halloween-steam

2016 Halloween STEAM event [Photo courtesy of Children’s Librarian Michelle Zimmermann, North Mankato Taylor Library]

Children’s librarian Michelle Zimmermann of North Mankato Taylor Library in North Mankato, Minnesota, hosted a spooky science lab for their Halloween STEAM event, which was held on October 20th. The event, for ages eight to 12, was part of a monthly program, STEAM Rollers.

The mad scientists — some of whom had an evil laugh down perfectly — learned how sound is made with vibrations by making eerie sound devices with plastic cups, yarn, paper clips and water. They also made slime to learn about chemical and physical properties and examined how using different ratios changed the composition of the material they were making. The third activity involved making pumpkin lava lamps and dealt with the concepts of polar and non polar molecules. Kids also learned about how oil and water don’t mix. According to Ms. Zimmermann, the lava lamps seemed to make the biggest impression on the young scientists.

 


More Halloween STEAM Activities

Still looking for inspiration? Below are five spooktacular links you can use to incorporate STEAM into your Halloween event:

Special Guest Post

And be sure to check back tomorrow for another wicked STEAM/STEM post with featured blogger Dawn Treude. The Library Assistant in Youth Services will explore the Halloween activities at the Scottsdale Public Library. She will be discussing how to create science-based projects by using everyday items with a spooky theme.

Tweet Us!

If you’ve implemented a Halloween STEAM activity in your classroom or library, let us know what you’re doing in the comments section below or tweet us at #ProQuest.

Five Reasons Why Teachers Can Benefit from Adult Coloring Books

School is out, the papers have been graded and you’re now home and settled on the couch, ready to enjoy some Netflix — why not color?

If you think coloring is just for your students — think again.

Adult coloring books come in all shapes and sizes, with an endless parade of amusing themes. Want to shade in neon pirates in a water world? Done. What about psychedelic flower gardens complete with fairies and unicorns? These books have got you covered. Kaleidoscopic space scenes to draw your eye; dizzying schools of rainbow fish; funky dinosaurs with a twist; striking mandalas and paisley prints — all of these and more.

It’s deviously simple: pick a design, grab a colored pencil, and let your imagination do the rest. If you’re not feeling creative, that’s fine — you can still fulfill your desire to create, even as you binge through that one season of House of Cards. No flashing lights, no advertisements, no deadlines, and no stress will stand in the way of you and your turquoise, tie-dye mermaid masterpiece. Give yourself a gold star.

Can’t find the yellow pencil? Who doesn’t like blue? Accidentally draw outside the lines? Look at that marvelous new piece of abstract art.

And you certainly wouldn’t be alone. In fact, plenty of people have popularized coloring books for adults, as confirmed on Amazon’s Best Sellers book list. The trending hobby began in 2015 and has only gathered steam. Since then, coloring books have become available via e-books, digital apps, as well as online.

So grab your adult coloring book, adult pencils and your favorite adult beverage … your inner child is waiting.

Here are five ways that adult coloring books can be helpful for teachers:

1. Therapeutic

Coloring alleviates stress, reduces anxiety and increases self-esteem. Focusing on pleasantly-colored designs can also boost your overall mood. Pairs nicely with a glass of wine.

2. Enhance Creativity

When you color, you condition your brain to slowly tune out other distractions. When you finish, you can use your designs as decorations. Frame your prints and hang them in your classroom. Get your students inspired.

3. The Child Within

Escape your daily classroom routine and revisit the nostalgia of your childhood art class. This is something you can do at any age. We won’t tell if you color the dog purple.

4. Tech Detox

No eye strain here. If you’ve been staring at your computer screen more than usual, give your eyes a break with a good old-fashioned paper book. Get yourself in full Zen mode and fill in some mandalas.

5. Socialize

Haven’t seen your adult friends in a while? Host a coloring session of your own with friends. Feeling adventurous? Check your local public library for classes.


**Update**

The editors at the ProQuest Boca Raton office were inspired to show off their creative side.

color1

color2

You can download this ProQuest coloring page using the link below.

http://media2.proquest.com/documents/proquest-ala-coloring-page.pdf

 

World’s Oldest Library Restored

After four years of renovations (totaling $30 million US dollars), the al-Qarawiyyin library in Fez, Morocco has reopened. For the first time in its history, however, it is now open to the general public.

The library is part of the al-Qarawiyyin University, which opened in 859 and is the world’s oldest continually operating university. In the 9th century, a wealthy Muslim woman from Tunisia named Fatima al-Fihriya provided funding for the construction of a mosque, which later expanded into a university. Her diploma, a wooden board, can still be seen today.

Aziza Chaouni, a Canadian-Moroccan architect, oversaw the site’s renovation, which boasts restored fountains, colorful mosaics, and refurbished texts. The library restoration included a new gutter system, solar panels and digital locks to protect the rare books room. Air conditioning was also installed to control the humidity.

 

Al-Karaouine University (Al-Qarawiyyin)

By Anderson sady (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Al-Karaouine University (Al-Qarawiyyin)

By Anderson sady (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Al-Karaouine University (Al-Qarawiyyin)

By Anderson sady (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

 

For 1,157 years, the library could only be accessed by theologians and academics. Today, visitors from around the globe can flock to see the oldest library in all its glory.