June, 2013

A Letter from Executive Director, Cynthia Randall

Dear Cornerstones Library Partners and Supporters of Science,

The summer is fast upon us.  For many public libraries this means one thing: the launch of the summer reading program.  This year, the children’s summer reading program is entitled “Dig Into Reading.”  The definition of “to dig” is to break up, turn over, or remove (soil, as example) as with a shovel, snout, claws, paws or hands.  Oh, these are the words of summer.  The warm weather allows us to discover the wonders that lie just beneath the surface, getting our hands dirty in order to unearth the hidden treasures.

I have just recently come to the world of gardening.  To me, this is science at its finest - expressing just how connected we are to each other and the world around us.  How many of us have stopped, for just a moment, and considered how does a miniscule seed produce the most amazing food?  Who doesn’t crave the sun-ripened tomato and corn?  Summer allows all of us to have the opportunity to connect with our food in a very personal and delightful way.  From the tiny seed comes a hearty plant.  Its blossoms, making us stop, pause and letting us know that all is right.  In our quest to protect the ripened fruit, we are inspired to learn about the adversaries of the garden.  Do we co-exist or fight the good battle?  Finally, the fruits of our labors (pun intended) are popped into our mouths with great anticipation.  However, the scientific journey does not end there.  Our fruits and vegetables continue to connect us to our communities as they become the subject of conversation around the dinner table or the produce we rally around as we exchange scientific ideas and information at the local farmer’s market. 

From the digging of vegetables and earthworms, to discovering the layers of earth in geology, or fossils that show us Earth in the past, our land offers so many treasures to be unearthed.  Digging also exposes our cultural landscape, the history, as discovered by archaeologists.  You and your family can discover how science contributes to our sense of place by visiting archaeological sites of Maine or wherever you are this summer.  Imagine standing in the same place, holding the very tools and things of those who have lived hundreds, even thousands of years before you.  Archaeology has made the news recently in Maine, with rescue excavations, of Fort Richmond.  For those who ever dream about becoming an archaeologist, here’s your chance.  Become involved in the excavations that will begin later this summer by Dr. Neill De Paoli, in Berwick.  Thanks to the summer reading theme, many libraries will also be focusing on archaeology this year.  Check with your local library.

Though I did not dig too deeply here, for example, by neglecting to mention connections with clams, or the salamanders to be unearthed by turning over rocks by nearby ponds and streams, the message here is to get out this summer and dig Science! Let curiosity introduce you and your family to new worlds.  In these long, warm days, or even rainy ones, see, taste, smell and touch for yourself how connected you are with science.

In the Spotlight……

Dr. Neill De Paoli – Digging into the Past

Winston Churchill said, “The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.”   By uncovering secrets of 1600’s and 1700’s, Dr. Neill De Paoli is helping us to do just that.  A historical archaeologist with extensive experience in Maine, Neill has been blending science, social studies and social science to help us see how our sense of place is shaped by those who have come before us, and in turn, perhaps see how our own actions will effect those who come after us.

Currently leading an archaeological excavation at the “Old Fields” site in Berwick, Neill is beginning to piece together the changes that have occurred over time on an interesting site that was once part of the town of Kittery.  The property owners, Harvey and Paula Bennett, have graciously supported Neill’s efforts to uncover the story of what appears to have been an important site beginning in the mid-1600’s when relations between European settlers and Native Americans were stressed due to factors such as competition for natural resources.  The information so far is leading them to believe that the site was the location of a garrison, blacksmith shop and tavern.

Neill is a strong proponent of Citizen Science for people of all ages.  When working with children he has staged simulated digs in order to let them enjoy the process of discovery.  With adults, he encourages anyone who is interested to come by, roll up their sleeves and dig into the past.  In fact, if you are interested in volunteering at the Old Fields site, you are encouraged to contact Neill @ 603-766-0561 or ndppquid@yahoo.com .   Opportunities to volunteer extend from June 17th - July 5th and July 15th - July 26th

We are happy to say that Neill, one of the scientists on the continually expanding Science Provider Network being developed by Cornerstones of Science, has already been tapped by a few Maine libraries to present this summer.  If you have questions for Neill you can contact him at the address above.  Questions about the Science provider network can be directed to us at Cornerstones of Science.
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In the News

Rescue Archeology

On the banks of the Kennebec River in Richmond, archaeologists are doing their best to uncover the remains of an 18th century fort called Fort Richmond.  However, because the Fort is at the location of a soon to be built bridge, the work is preceding quickly.  In fact, construction is set to begin in just a few weeks.  Learn more about the project.

Cornerstones News

Read, Write and Win - 2013

Reading science literature is a fundamental means of improving an individual’s understanding of science.  The Read, Write and Win program has been, and continues to be, a successful means of engaging students in science, reading and communication.  Established in 2004, Read, Write and Win successfully promotes science literacy through a grade 3-12 reading and writing program. 

Led by their classroom teacher, students read nonfiction science literature nominated by Cornerstones, library partners and the public, and create a thoughtful review or illustration on how the book contributes to and inspires the reader’s understanding of the world.  The reviews are judged by well-respected scientists and authors.  For this year's competition, Cornerstones received 185 written reviews and illustrations!  We congratulate all those who participated and look forward to the 2014 Read, Write and Win competition.

2013 Written Finalists
Third Grade       
S. Almquist          Home School
T. Hanna              Fisher-Mitchell School in Bath
B. Peterson         St. John's Catholic School
Fourth Grade                                                    
L. Doherty           St. John's
C. Jones              St. John's
R. Turgeon          St. John's
Fifth Grade                                                        
A. Salko                St. John's
M. Bergquist         St. John's
R. Giles                St. John's
Sixth Grade                                                       
C. F.                     Home School
Seventh Grade                                                
A. Eckhardt          Greely Middle School 
E. Brouder            Greely Middle School 
T. Coyle                Greely Middle School
Eight Grade                                                       
B. Burt                   James F. Doughty School
H. Qureshi             James F. Doughty School
D.  F                      Home School
Ninth Grade                                                      
C. F                       Home School
H. Becker              Yarmouth High School
A. Smith                Yarmouth High School
Tenth Grade                                                     
W. Johnson          Greely High School
A. Collins              Greely High School
J. Hoffman            Greely High School
Eleventh Grade                                                               
N. Josephson        Greely High School
G. Bouchard         Greely High School
Twelfth Grade                                                  
L. Campbell          Greely High School
E. Towle                Greely High School
2013 Illustration Finalists
Third Grade
B. Peterson               St. John's
E. Tweed                   St. John's
C. Charbonneau       St. John's
Fourth Grade                                    
L. C.                          St. John's
C. J.                           St. John's
T. A.                           St. John's
Fifth Grade                        
M. Scanlon                St. John's
G. Fallon                   St. John's
A. Slocum                  St. John's

Book Recommendations

The Incidental Steward: Reflections on Citizen Science

By Akiko Busch and Debby Cotter Kaspari
This book combines natural history, a sense of place, and reflections about the changing world. Based upon the author’s experiences, the book explores how the resurgence in volunteerism and citizen science helps to establish a connection to the environment around us.


Gopher to the Rescue! A Volcano Recovery Story

By Terry Catasús Jennings and Laurie O'Keefe
When a mountain suddenly explodes, the land becomes unlivable for many plants and animals. Gopher begins to dig through the ash and mixes it into the soil.  While his work helps some of the plants and animals to recover, will the area ever recover? 


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Websites of the Month

Celebrating the Science of Archaeology, Rock Hounding and Paleontology


Archaeology for Kids - National Park Service: U.S. Department of the Interior

This website for kids is broken into major categories such as “who are archeologists”, “how do they work” and “the archeology lab.”  The descriptions are brief but informative and provide links to subtopics.  The site also includes a “dig deeper” section that provides links to books and magazines for kids.

An Introduction to Mineral Collecting in Maine - Bureau of Geology, Natural Areas and Coastal Resources

Rock hounding in Maine is an inexpensive hobby open to all age groups.  This outdoor activity gives participants the opportunity to explore, dig and perhaps find crystals, gems and gold.  The site provides an introduction to mineral collecting, necessary equipment and sources of additional information. 

The Paleontology Portal

This site is a resource for anyone interested in North American paleontology from the professional to the amateur looking for fossils. The site provides information about plants, invertebrates, bacteria and other life forms throughout the various geologic time periods.  You can also find links to maps, image collections and on-line journals.

Library Partners…….

A few of the many "Dig into Reading" programs......

Hartland Public Library – Hartland, Maine
Hartland Public Library is planning four summer programs in cooperation with the 21st Century summer program with RSU 19. Tim Caverly will be doing a program on his stories and experiences as director of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, MadScience will be putting on a presentation, the Boston Museum of Science traveling program will be there in August  and there will be a program from the L.C. Bates Museum in Hinkley.

York Public Library – York, Maine
York Public Library is breaking the Dig Into Reading theme into weekly sub-themes: Can You Dig It? (books from the 70s), Dig Into the Past (Egyptology), We're Found Underground (gnomes, hobbits, etc), Digging for Treasure (pirates), Dig Into the Earth (gardening,  burrowing animals, rocks, gardens), and Digging Dinos (dinosaurs).  Each week will have theme-related books on display and a drop-in craft.
Patten Free Library – Bath, Maine
Patten Free Library’s summer reading program is about the wonders under our feet: burrowing animals, hidden treasures in the earth, and more.  In addition to the reading program, Patten is hosting a series of events including a Children's Garden Party, Treasure Hunters, Library Park Geology Field Trip and Let’s Go on A Mock Dig.

Tempe Public Library – Tempe, Arizona
The Tempe Public Library has a variety of activities for children and teens including Reptile Adventure, Taiko Japanese Drumming, Kirby Dinosaur Exploration and Wild Life World Zoo – Adaptation.