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If you've ever wanted to move, build or take something apart, you need tools.  The most basic of these are called simple machines.  Used alone or in combination, they allow us to do the jobs we need to do.  They are levers, wheels and axles, pulleys, inclined planes, wedges, and screws.

Simple Machines

Here are some different ways to learn more: quiz yourself, learn their history, build something fun, work on the math and find out how they are used in a job setting.  See how simple machines might have built a mystery castle.  If, after all that, you can't remember what they are, here's a catchy tune to help jog your memory.

Need more information?  Visit your local library.

Indochina (also spelled Indo-China) lies between two of the world's oldest civilizations, India and China. 

The Geography of Southeast Asia

The region contains many fertile plains formed by three major rivers -- the Mekong, Salween, and Irrawaddy. The land is rich in mineral resources, including petroleum, tin, tungsten, lead, zinc and iron, among others.

Today, Southeast Asia includes the countries of Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and sometimes is said to include Myanmar (also known as Burma), Thailand, Malaya (part of Malaysia), and Singapore.

Map of Indochina

Here are a few links for finding more information about the geography of the region:

Asia Geography

South Asia Geography

The History of Indochina

The name Indochina comes from the French imperial presence between 1884 and 1954 in Southeast Asia. France withdrew from southeast Asia in 1954 following the loss of the Indochina War. 

The Vietnam War -- United States in Vietnam -- 1945-1975

History Today, Southeast Asia

Modern Day

Here's a brief video showing images of mostly rural places. Rivers and boats play a vital role in the region. 

Researching Indochina

To begin researching in our databases, you will need your library card and pin number. You can look for articles on Indochina in the World Book Encyclopedia or the Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia

After the Revolutionary War, the new country had to decide how to govern itself.  The Continental Congress wrote the Articles of Confederation in 1777. This document gave the new individual states power and put in place a weak central government. The Library of Congress has an easy to read timeline for the Articles of Confederation. This new system created lots of problems, and in 1787 all the states except Rhode Island sent delegates to Philadelphia to fix the Articles. Instead they wrote an entirely new document called the Constitution of the United States.

The Constitutional Convention changed the future of the United States. The delegates decided that their work must remain a secretThey argued and they compromised and they created the three branches of government still in use today.

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If you want to know more contact a librarian.

In the great outdoor laboratory that most of us know as The Planet Earth people are working all the time to determine how mountains and canyons were formed, lakes are made and why volcanoes erupt the way they do.

 They are practicing geology. They also study small and not so small changes that might help to predict the future. The study of the earth doesn’t just involve our planet, it includes other planets, and the activity that human beings are doing on the Earth every day.

The National Geographic Society calls on all of us to recognize the importance of Geo-literacy.

You may love to pick up rocks when you hike or have an assignment to build a volcano. Perhaps you travelled to Crater Lake (put on your 3d glasses for this one) with your family and became fascinated by that very deep, round and blue body of water. You can observe the history of the earth in the small details in your backyard, or the larger than life details of the entire world. Just imagine being able to name any rock formation as your family drives by it on the highway, or rides by it on a bicycle.  

For inspiration take a look at the Earth Science Picture of the Day (EPOD) that will also provide you with links to NASA’s Earth Observatory and Visible Earth

In addition to great books about geology the Multnomah County Library has a couple of electronic encyclopedias that can answer many of your questions about the Earth Sciences. You will need to use your library card number and PIN to login to the New Book of Popular Science or Kids Infobits.

illustration of a geologist

Once you’ve satisfied the Oregon State Standards for elementary, middle and high school students in Earth Science, you can start thinking about career options as a Geoscientist.

 

While you are waiting for a new blog post from me check out the Student's Link on EPOD. It's just for kids.

 

 

 

For centuries, Europeans have explored places unfamiliar to them.  The big push to explore happened from the 1400s to the 1600s and is known as the Age of Discovery or the Age or Exploration.  Here are some sites that will help you learn more about individual explorers, the places they went, and the tools they used to get there.

Santa Maria model

For a broad website on exploration that includes biographies of explorers, information and illustrations ships and navigation tools, plus an interactive map showing voyages of the most ancient explorers through the 1920s, check out Exploration Through the Ages from the Mariners Museum.  Here's another link to exploration info at the museum.

Look at the companion website for the PBS program Conquistadors for more about explorers Cortes, Orellana, Pizarro and Cabeza de Vaca.  See also All the World is Human:  The Conquistadors for the companion videos from the BBC.  Be aware that this site takes a bit of time to load.
 
Learn about longitude, latitude, and navigation tools and see a film on how to use an octant and try it yourself at Marine Navigation in the Age of Exploration.
 
Find out how hard life was for a sailor and explorer in this infographic:  Age of Exploration:  Life on the Open Seas
 
Now you're ready to conquer the world!

Need to know the capital of New Jersey? The senators from Hawaii? Or famous people from Oregon? Dig into the sites below to find the answers to those questions and more!United States map

 

If you just need the basic facts about a state, visit Quick Facts: Learn about Your State. Here you can find state capitals, area, symbols, and U.S. senators and representatives.

To dig a little deeper, go to Stately Knowledge, which also lists famous people from each state, professional sports teams, and other fascinating facts. This site also has charts that list the states in order by population, area, and more.

Fact Monster's The Fifty States is similar; it also includes short sections on the history, economy and tourist attractions of each state. Don't miss the links on the first page of this site, which allow you to compare states in a variety of ways and play games or take quizzes to test your knowledge.

Did you know that most states have a website just for kids? Find a list of those sites at Kids.gov's State Websites for Kids

To find articles about a state's history, visit Explore the States. Here you can also find stories about local events and customs.

If you are trying to learn the names of all 50 states, try watching Fifty States That Rhyme, which uses them in a song. Or, if you need to learn the state capitals, watch the States and Capitals Song video.

Finally, if you need a map of a state, visit the National Atlas's list of state maps. You can find several different types of maps for each state; you can either view them online or download a map as a PDF.

Didn't find what you need here? Contact a librarian if you need more help with your research. 

 

 

 

Whether you are researching Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, or any country in between, these sources have the facts you need!Photo of a globe

Culturegrams is an encyclopedia in which you can find out about the history of your country, as well the daily lives of its citizens. There are great printable maps and images of the country’s flag and lots of photos. You can even listen to the country’s national anthem or sample recipes! If you aren’t at the Multnomah County Library, you’ll need to log in to the encyclopedia with your library card and PIN. You’ll want to choose the Kids Edition.

Wondering which sights to see in a country? Around the World, from Time for Kids magazine, lists places you won't want to miss. You can also find timelines and learn some words in the country’s language.

At Global Trek, you can learn more about a country and its residents—sometimes from interviews with other students! You can even keep a travel journal.

National Geographic Kids has great maps, videos, and lots of photos for some countries.

Looking for a picture of a county’s flag? Just click on the small image at the CIA World Factbook to get a larger printable version of the flag, as well as information about what all its symbols mean.

If you still need help with your research, contact a librarian for more assistance. Bon voyage! 

Trees at Hoyt ArboretumAre you looking for help identifying trees?  A simple scientific method for identifying plants or animals has an impressive name: the dichotomous (dih-kot-uh-muhs) key.  As you use this tool, you make a series of choices based on characteristics of the item you want to identify.  Oregon State University has an excellent dichotomous key for identifying common trees of the Pacific Northwest.

Sometimes it's helpful to have a small handbook that you can take with you when you're outdoors looking at trees.  You can create your own tree identification handbook by printing some of the Pacific Northwest Native Plants Identification Cards.  Learn about the ID plant cards, search by common name of plants, or search by scientific names of plants.   There's even a blank template (Word doc) so you can create additional cards.

If you want more information, contact a librarian through your computer or at your local library.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image Caption: Life cycle illustration from Maria Sibylla Merian’s Metamorphosis insectorum surinamensium. Amsterdam :Voor den auteur, als ook by G. Valck,[1705]. from the Biodiversity Heritage Library’s image collection on Flickr. The Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) is a consortium of natural history and botanical libraries that cooperate to digitize and make accessible online the legacy literature of biodiversity held in their collections.

Quite possibility one of the most recognized names in natural history art is John James Audubon (1785-1851), considered one of the greatest bird artists, namesake of the Audubon Society and famous for his double elephant-folio volumes of the Birds of America. Audubon hunted his subjects and used these freshly killed birds in life-like poses for drawing.  Conservation of nature was not much of a consideration at this time and Audubon might shoot many birds before he found what he considered the perfect representation of the species. Audubon’s life work and act of Creation was also an act of destruction, an unrealized possibility of extinction.

In my youth I often went camping in MacKerricher State Park, on the Northern California coast.  I kept a journal to record aspects of small plants and animals I found along the beach and in the nearby woods.  Each entry was focused on a detailed penciled drawing of the creature.  Little did my young mind know this was a child’s play of natural history illustration. Our species’ interest and fascination in drawing the natural world around us goes back into prehistory long before Audubon when people first drew charcoaled animals on cave walls.  

This was a life’s work held by some women long before it was acceptable for them to be scientists and naturalists, women like Maria Sibylla Merian who in 1699 traveled from Amsterdam to South America to study metamorphosis and is known for her beautifully accurate drawings of the life cycles of butterflies.  This exceptional naturalist’s story is brought to life in Chrysalis: Maria Sibylla Merian and the Secrets of Metamorphosis.  It was a profession held by women like Genevieve Jones who went out into the field with her father an amateur ornithologist to find bird nests and eggs to collect, identify, and draw. She noted that Audubon had not included eggs or nests in his drawings in any detail.  Jones’ life work and posthumously her family’s became the  Illustrations of the Nests and Eggs of Birds of Ohio (1879). Virginia, Genevieve Jones’ mother stated that the family finished the drawings and created the book in memory of their daughter. “She had just begun the work when she died. So for her sake I made it as perfect as possible.” The story of the book’s creation and the Jones family’s colorful illustrations are on display in America’s Other Audubon by Joy Kiser.

Natural history illustration is a practice which was not quashed by the advent of the camera; neither captured light on film nor the instantaneousness and abundance of today’s digital images can completely achieve what can be expressed with the process and art of natural history illustration. Unlike a digital image which captures perfectly one particular individual at one particular moment in time, a drawing or painting of a heron or a moth can be the perfect hypothetical representation of its species.

Art and science converge in natural history illustration.  Katrina van Grouw aptly demonstrates this convergence in The Unfeathered Bird, a richly illustrated book showing birds painstakingly drawn without their feathers. This recent (2013) book combines “the visual beauty and attention to detail of the best historical illustrations with an up-to-date knowledge of field ornithology.”  It is is a book that shows how the birds’ outward “appearance, posture, and behavior influence, and are influenced by, their internal structure.”  The Unfeathered Bird bridges art, science, and history and is an unique offering in the continued practice of natural history illustration.  

For more comprehensive collections of natural history art check out the oversized Cabinet of Natural Curiosities which illustrates Albertus Seba 's unusual collection of natural specimens from the 18th century, dig into David Attenborough’s Amazing Rare Things for a history of natural history illustration in the age of discovery, or browse through an overview of three centuries of natural history art from around the world in Art & Nature by Judith Magee.  Anyone interested in the beauty of the natural world will be drawn to the interlocking fields of art and science that natural history illustration creates.


Image: Life cycle illustration from Maria Sibylla Merian’s Metamorphosis insectorum surinamensium
Amsterdam :Voor den auteur, als ook by G. Valck,[1705]. from the Biodiversity Heritage Library’s image collection on Flickr. The Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) is a consortium of natural history and botanical libraries that cooperate to digitize and make accessible online the legacy literature of biodiversity held in their collections.

http://multcolib.tumblr.com/image/60866198248“City of the Book” is a poem that Kim Stafford wrote for the Multnomah County Library, to mark the formation of a new library district on July 1st, 2013. At a celebration that day on the steps of the Central Library, he led the crowd in a reading of the poem.

Kim Stafford reading in front of Central Library

When asked about the experience of writing this poem, Stafford said:

I understand the library as a force of nature--more like a river or an orchard or a lagoon teeming with fish than a box of silent books. The place is alive, bountiful, brimming, spilling treasure of ideas and stories, facts and films, songs and tales for children in all directions. It's a watershed, harvesting rain and feeding everyone. So, to write a poem about such a place is more like turning on the tap than struggling for words. Words flow from libraries, for libraries, for people in libraries. I was just a small part of this bountiful storm of words.

Kim Stafford’s father, William Stafford (1914-1993), spoke at a different library event 30 years ago at the Lake Oswego Library. Lewis & Clark University is currently celebrating the 100th anniversary of William Stafford’s birth, and the 2014 statewide Oregon Reads community reading project will focus on his work.

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