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Library gives kids the moon

June 20, 2007

Washington County Free Library, in cooperation with Washington County Public Schools and the Discovery Station Museum, created a program that allowed the children of Washington County to learn about the moon.

As part of a grant secured by Jeff Ridgeway, head of Children's Services at the library, copies of "If You Decide to Go to the Moon," by Faith McNulty, and "Moon," by Steve Tomecek, were purchased for each of the 25 elementary schools in Washington County.

In addition, eight copies of "Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon," were purchased for each of the eight county middle schools. Lessons were planned around the reading of each of these titles by local teachers.

On May 15 and 16, two buses carrying eighth-grade middle school students visited the Goddard Space Center in Greenbelt, Md., as part of the grant. The students were able to see the exhibits at the center and took a tour of the facility.

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On Saturday, May 19, the library hosted "A Day on the Moon," in which children were invited to the library to experience lunar activities. The portable star lab was brought to the library from Fairview Outdoor School. Eighth-grade students from Northern Middle School conducted a robotics display. The TriState Astronomers conducted crater experiments and invited children to view the moon during the day from the library's parking lot. The Friends of the Washington County Free Library held a story time themed around the moon.

Neal Bachtell, from Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, demonstrated the "clean suit" that he uses to work on equipment that will be launched into space, and an actual lunar rock sample was borrowed from the Goddard Space Center so kids could actually hold a piece of the moon in their hands. Other moon-related experiments, crafts, and a movie were also featured. Children who completed all of the nine stations involved in the program received a certificate and a space treat.

The program is an example of the part of the ongoing CLASS ("Connecting Libraries and Schools for Success") partnership between Washington County Public Schools and the library created to enhance the education of county students.

Other areas in which the schools and the public library collaborate in programming include the annual Summer Reading Club, the Books for Babies program, the Battle of the Books program, and monthly preschool and third grade read-aloud sessions.

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