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  • June 2018
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Sherlock Holmes and Human Skulls


Are you a fan of BBC’s Sherlock? Interested in the science behind detection? Join the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh-Beechview on Thursday, February 20 from 5:00 to 7:30 PM for an exploration in real life forensic science with a hands on diagnoses of human skulls! Plus, stick around afterwards for a screening from the third season of Sherlock.  Presented by Barbara Paul, a Mobile Science Lab Education Facilitator from the University of Pittsburgh.

Contact the Beechview Library at 412-563-2900 for more details.



The topic of Forensic Science intrigues a lot of people.  The large amount of television shows such as CSI, NCSI, Cold Case, Bones, Law & Order, and Body of Proof, just to name a few, is proof of this fascination that the public has for the science of crime scene investigation.

To learn more about this topic, try Forensics :  Uncover the Science and Technology of Crime Scene Investigation by Carla Mooney.  The best part is the awesome Inquire & Investigate forensic experiments that you can try yourself.

Did you ever hear of Locard’s Exchange Principle? Dr. Edmond Locard was a French police officer and medical examiner.  “Locard believed that when two items make contact, they exchange a piece of their materials.”  (page 11)

According to John Fuller from his article posted  on How Stuff Works:

Locard believed that no matter where a criminal goes or what a criminal does, he will leave something at the scene of the crime. At the same time, he will also take something back with him. A criminal can leave all sorts of evidence, including fingerprints, footprints, hair, skin, blood, bodily fluids, pieces of clothing and more. By coming into contact with things at a crime scene, a criminal also takes part of that scene with him, whether it’s dirt, hair or any other type of trace evidence.

Did you know that Dactyloscopy is the study of fingerprint identification? (p12)  According to Carla Mooney:

Criminals have tried to hide their identity by burning or shaving off their finger pads, but it doesn’t work.  Their prints disappear for a period of time, but eventually the skin repairs itself and the prints reappear in their original pattern.

Did you know that there are 206 bones in the normal adult human body? (p46)

Did you know that a variety of marks and prints can be left behind at a crime scene?

Shoes, tools and tires all leave marks and impressions that forensic scientists can use to track down a suspect.

Taken together, a shoe’s wear pattern and other distinctive marks can make a shoe print as unique as a fingerprint.

Footprints can reveal details about the events at a crime scene.  A footprint made by a person walking is different from one made by the same person running or carrying a heavy object.


For career information on becoming a forensic scientist, please see the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.


The link between rhythm and reading

Image c.o. freedigitalimages.net, by imagerymajestic.

Image by imagerymajestic, via freedigitalimages.net

This just in from the Journal of Neuroscience: researchers have discovered that learning to keep a steady beat can enhance your language skills and make you a better reader.

A recent study tested the rhythmic abilities of a group of Chicago high-schoolers to establish a link between beat-keeping mastery and language aptitude. As it turns out, both of these abilities are managed by the same part of our brains. Moving in time with a beat trains the brain to listen carefully and pick out subtle auditory cues.

Human language is inherently musical– we don’t talk like robots, but let our words rise and fall with emphasis on certain syllables. Our normal speech patterns move with a sense of rhythm, so it makes sense that practicing music may improve the ability to use and interpret language, too. And since reading requires us to understand and anticipate the way that language moves, exercising your rhythm skills can also help to build your reading skills.

Whether you dance, sing, practice an instrument, or just drum your fingers along with the beat, this new info is an awesome reason to keep listening to (and making) music.

You can find musical masterpieces of every genre at the library, or check out Freegal, which allows you to download 3 new songs a week using your CLP library card.

And of course, we’ve got you covered on books, too. Listen to music — > become a better reader —> read cool books about music:

Beats, Rhymes, & Life: What We Love and Hate About Hip HopNick & Norah's Infinite Playlist



Learn to Speak Music




Total Chaos: The Art and Aesthetic of Hip Hop    The Vinyl Princess

What’s the Big To-Do about Making Lists?

to-do-list-nothingToday, like most days, I woke up thinking, “Oh crud.” This is usually because I realized I forgot to do something the day before or because something snuck up on me (like this blog post).

I’m just thankful that I have the benefit of an adult brain, or it might be a whole lot worse. Neuroscientists have shown that the teen brain, even at the level of neurons, is highly disorganized.

For help, I’ve turned to the good old stalwart of disorganized people everywhere: the to-do list.

But what makes the to-do list such a stalwart in the first place? The famous Italian novelist and semiotician Umberto Eco has one idea:

The list is the origin of culture. It’s part of the history of art and literature. What does culture want? To make infinity comprehensible. It also wants to create order — not always, but often. And how, as a human being, does one face infinity? How does one attempt to grasp the incomprehensible?

It’s true, that when I think about my day, and the many twists and turns it may take, I find great comfort in being able to see things ordered simply and neatly. And waiting to be crossed off (I hate to imagine what that signifies).

Thankfully, when it comes to “to do” lists, there have been lots of digital options that sync across phones and the web, so I never have to worry about accidentally losing my paper list (which happens) or my phone battery dying because I forgot to charge it, leaving me with no idea what I’m supposed to do that day (which also happens).

One of the most popular and well-reviewed has been Wunderlist, a freely downloadable app and site that doesn’t just let you make lists, but also organize each task into groups like, school, home, work, etc.
But if you want to train your brain to do the work for you, there’s a book for that: Brain Training: The Complete Visual Program, by James Harrison.

This book has all kinds of fun visual puzzles that will stimulate all kinds of areas of the brain and hopefully help get those neurons working in sync!

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Main

*Teen* Gardening Thyme

A lot of organizations talk about “going green” these days, but the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is taking the concept to a whole new level.  Did you know that the Main Library (and many more library locations throughout the city) planted vegetable and herb gardens this spring?


And did you know that you can check out SEEDS to take home and plant from the Seed and Story Library currently located at both CLP Main and Lawrenceville?

seed libraryThis week at CLP Main- Teen, we’ll be kicking off our own *Teen* Gardening Thyme program series!  Throughout the summer, we’ll be hosting cool garden and gardening related programs.  Each program will begin with a tour of the fabulous garden at CLP Main!  Program participation is limited to teens and registration is required.

Seed Bombs: Wednesday June 19 @ 1 pm

Seed bombs are little balls made of compost, clay, and seeds.  You can plant them in your garden or use them to green-up vacant lots.

Make Your Own Salad Dressing: Wednesday, July 17 @ 1 pm

We’ll be picking some herbs from the CLP Main vegetable garden and use them to create their own salad dressing!

Make Your Own Pickles and Salsa: Wednesday, August 21 @ 1 pm

We’ll use some vegetables and herbs from the CLP Main vegetable garden to make pickles and salsa!

For more information or to register, contact CLP Main- Teen at teensmain@carnegielibrary.org or 412.622.5526.

eat fresh food    plant hunters

secret lives of plants     terrarium craft

Consider the Cicada

Are you ready for CICADAPOCALYPSE 2013?

Martin Hauser, Wikipedia.

The hordes are rising.

In case you haven’t heard, the East Coast has been bracing itself for an insect invasion of biblical proportions. An entire generation of cicadas (known creepily among entomologists as Brood II) is currently emerging from 17 years of underground existence, ready to molt into adulthood, join life on the surface, and spend a few weeks flying around in crazed, baby-making swarms.

So what is a cicada exactly? In the case of CICADAPOCALYPSE 2013, we’re talking about a genus local to North America known as Magicicada. The babies (aka nymphs) begin as soft, squishy things that spend the majority of their freakishly long lifespan living deep underground, feeding on fluids from tree roots. As the seventeen-year mark approaches, the cicadas wait until the ground temperature hits the mid-sixties, and all at once, they begin their synchronized tunneling to the top. Once they reach the surface, it’s time for the pivotal molting moment, which begins their transition into the shiny-winged, hard-shelled, red-eyed monster bugs about to plague states from Florida to New York and beyond.

The Molting.

The Molting.

The grown-up cicadas are here for one thing—mating. The males fly together in giant screeching swarms in hopes of impressing the ladies with their beautiful/deafening chorus. Ideally, the music making leads to baby making. After just a few weeks, eggs have been laid and the party’s over for another 17 years.

The good news is Magicicada don’t bite or sting. Mostly they just fly into stuff and make lots of noise and leave their discarded exoskeletons lying around. Will we see any in Pittsburgh? Maybe. Wary cicada-watchers can keep their eyes on some of the handy maps tracking sightings of Magicicada across the country.

In the meantime, there are some folks who welcome the arrival of Brood II. Some want to eat them. Some want to jam with them. Some just want to watch them as they fly around and shed their old body parts all over the place. Then there are the haters.

Luckily for everyone, the library is a great source for bug stuff of all sorts.  Better read up on these noisy natural wonders lest they emerge in your own backyard.

bugmusic   eatabug500 Insects

National Autism Awareness Month

Did any of your neighbors swap their white outdoor light bulb for a blue bulb on April 2?  When you drove past the CONSOL Energy Center did you notice its screens and LED pucks were blue instead of black and gold?  Your neighbors, the Penguins, and others around the took part in Light It Up Blue to commemorate World Autism Day (April 2) and kick off National Autism Awareness Month!

World Autism Awareness Day Facebook page

Autism is a disorder that is usually diagnosed in early childhood. The main signs and symptoms of autism involve communication, social interactions and repetitive behaviors.

Children with autism might have problems talking with you, or they might not look you in the eye when you talk to them. They may spend a lot of time putting things in order before they can pay attention, or they may say the same sentence again and again to calm themselves down. They often seem to be in their “own world.”

Because people with autism can have very different features or symptoms, health care providers think of autism as a “spectrum” disorder. Asperger syndrome is a milder version of the disorder.

-source: MedlinePlus

Organizations like Autism Speaks and the Autism Society work to raise awareness about autism and issues within the autism community not only in April but also year-round.  Did you know the Autism Society teamed up with AMC Theatres to bring families affected by autism and other disabilities an opportunity to enjoy their favorite films in a safe and accepting environment every month at “Sensory Friendly Films?”  How cool is that?

As you travel around the city be on the lookout for other buildings participating in Light It Up Blue, like the Andy Warhol Museum, Carnegie Science Center and PNC Park.

Want to learn more?  Don’t forget to check Overdrive for ebooks, audiobooks, and videos about autism.

      A Certain October         

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