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  • July 2020
    M T W T F S S

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

Teen Review: Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson

Jenna M.

Hi, my name is Jenna and I am a senior at West Mifflin Area High School. I volunteer at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – Main. No matter where I am, you will probably see a book in my hand. I hope you enjoy my book reviews!

Ultraviolet – R.J. Anderson


The book automatically opens up with heavy subject matter. The first page is Alison confessing that she killed Tori. But did she really? Alison wakes up in a hospital, which is surprisingly very plain and bare. This is when she realizes that she is a mental patient. Alison is transported to Pine Hills, a mental patient facility for teens.

When Alison was questioned by the police, Alison told them that Tori had simply ‘disintergrated’ right before her eyes. But, Alison didn’t even know if she could trust herself. She has always been able to taste shapes and letters and see things that no one else can see. With all of her weird abilities getting in the way, she could not even remember what happened that day with Tori.

At Pine Hills, Alison meets Faraday, a neuropsychologist who really gives her the answers she needs. Alison learns more about her synthesia and Faraday reassures her she is not crazy.

Alison is deeply moved by everyone at Pine Hills. Over time, she learns more about people and about herself. She learns to not judge others, and that sometimes first instincts are wrong about certain people.

This novel honestly has it all. Science fiction, romance, coming-of-age, and mystery are all major themes of this book along with many others. Even though there are so many different important aspects of this book, they somehow seem to blend.

There is one thing that readers will not see coming that is introduced towards the end of the book. Everything that readers thought was going on, will turn out to be something completely unexpected.

One of the best parts of reading this book was getting inside of Alison’s head, quite literally. Learning about a condition like synthesia really opened my eyes. I can’t believe there are people out there that actually have this condition. Readers will become fascinated with all the different meanings behind shapes, colors, and letters that a synthesete interprets.

5/5 !

Ancient philosophers with dangerous ideas! Lucretius and De Rerum Natura

For the last four months, I  very slowly was reading through one book of poetry. Admittedly, this is a long book, comprised of six smaller “books” (or chapters, if you will), and I wanted to take my time and not rush through it.

De Rerum Natura, or On the Nature of Things was written by a poet-scientist-philosopher by the name of Lucretius, sometime in the 1st century BC. Very little is known about Lucretius: when exactly he was born, when he died,  when he wrote the poem, who exactly he wrote it for, etc. etc.  What we do know from his writing is that he was a disciple of the philosopher Epicurus. You may know him by the word that was derived from his name/philosophy – epicurean, meaning “fond of or adapted to luxury or indulgence in sensual pleasures; having luxurious tastes or habits, especially in eating and drinking.” (Also the inspiration for recipe-aggregator Epicurious)

Only a bit of what Epicurus wrote remains in the world, which makes De Rerum Natura extra important. Even more important is that it’s beautiful to read, and still moving as a piece of writing. While Lucretius explains the way the world is made of atoms, how that relates to the soul, and now-wacky theories about how the sun rising comes from a collection of “fire seeds” and how earthquakes are caused by collapsing caves on the inside of the Earth, he’s also paying close attention to metaphor and language, and making it something that one would want to read.


In fact, the original discovery of the manuscript of De Rerum Natura was made by chance, and a re-discovery in much the same way led to its reader, Stephen Greenblatt, writing a book on how he was affected and why the ideas in the poem are still important. That book is called The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, and this is some of what Greenblatt has to say about Lucretius

“Lucretius, who was born about a century before Christ, was emphatically not our contemporary. He thought that worms were spontaneously generated from wet soil, that earthquakes were the result of winds caught in underground caverns, that the sun circled the earth. But, at its heart, “On the Nature of Things” persuasively laid out what seemed to be a strikingly modern understanding of the world.” –  from an interview in The New Yorker.

“It’s a theory of everything. That is its glory and perhaps its absurdity. It tried to say what the nature of everything was.

And it had at its center an ancient idea, wasn’t invented by the poet, but actually by philosophers before him. But the whole theory was, in effect, lost, except for this poem. And the theory is that the world consists of an infinite number of tiny particles.

The ancient Greeks called them the things that can’t be broken up, and the word for that was atoms. …these were dangerous ideas, especially as Christianity took hold.” – from PBS

Why would his ideas be dangerous? Because they went against established (or what were beginning to be established) religious ideas – “. …Epicurus taught that all things were made of atoms, including the human soul, which was consequently as mortal as the body. He taught that though the gods exist, in a blissful state to be imitated by mortals, they neither created the physical world nor intervened in it. The clear aim of these teachings, together with the injunctions to avoid public life and cultivate moderate pleasure, was the elimination of all anxiety regarding human life and all fear of death and the supernatural. Little wonder that both the Roman political establishment and later the Christian church regarded Epicureanism as a dangerous threat.” – from Poetry.com


But don’t take my word for it – sample some of De Rerum Natura‘s wonderfully dour explanations of death, from Anthony Esolen’s really great translation:

“And now, so crippled is our age, that the earth,
Worn out by labor, scarce makes tiny creatures–
Which once made all, gave birth to giant beasts.
For I find it hard to believe that a golden cord
From heaven let living things down into the fields,
Or they were made by the stone-splashing waves of the sea;
The same earth gendered then that now gives food.
What’s more, at first she made, of her own prompting,
The glossy corn and the glad vine for us mortals,
And gave, of her own, sweet offspring and glad pasture.
Yet these now hardly grow for all our work:
We sweat our oxen thin and the strength of our farmhands
We crush; for our fields the plow is not enough.
So full of labor and so spare of birth!

Now the old plowman shakes his head and sighs
That all of his hard work has come to nothing,
Compares the present days to days gone by
And over and over touts his father’s luck.
Disheartened, the planter of stooped and shriveled vines
Curses this bent of our age, and rattles on
With his reproach: our elders, full of reverence,
managed to live with ease in narrow bounds,
With much less acreage to a man; he doesn’t
Grasp that, slowly, wasting away, all things
Go to the tomb, worn out by the long years.” (II, 1149-1173)

Don’t want to read the whole thing? Check out an illustrated excerpt in The graphic canon. Volume 1 : from the epic of Gilgamesh to Shakespeare to Dangerous liaisons, edited by Russ Kick.



– Tessa, CLP – East Liberty

The Labs @ CLP: Teen Digital Media Labs

Hello, everyone,

Just a quick note from your friendly neighborhood librarian to let you know, one more time, about the launch  of a brand-new, exciting, ongoing teen library program–The Labs @ CLP.

So what is The Labs?It’s Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s teen digital media lab program. And what’s a digital media lab? Well, it’s a computer lab of sorts, but full of equipment and software specially designed to help you create.

We’re launching the program with a big party this Wednesday at CLP-Main and mini Launch events at the other three locations next week. (For in-depth information on the program as well as dates and times for each launch, go HERE.)

About the program: From iMacs to music production equipment (M-Audio Fast Track Pro and Apple’s GarageBand) to graphic design (the full Adobe Creative Suite) and filmmaking (HD Canon Vixia camcorders plus a green screen), plus plenty more, The Labs is your resource for getting creative in the library.

We’ll be offering weekly themed programming at all four Labs locations as well as open Labs time where you can explore and create with the help of Labs mentors–digital media artists and librarians who will be on-hand leading programs and acting as a resource for creation. Each month the theme will change. This October, for example, we’ll focus on filmmaking. Then, in November, we’ll focus on Audio/Music Production with podcasting and music recording. Check back for our ongoing schedule.

Why simply consume media when you can create it? You can use The Labs as a resource for creative multi-media school projects or as a place to do something completely separate from your school work–something based on your own personal interests. Work on a podcast with friends, film a scary movie scene (that’s what we’ll be doing this October!), or get help recording your music in the library. There are so many options!

And where are The Labs? There will be four digital media labs located throughout the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh system. Here are their hours and a link to the first day of October’s program: The Scary Story Filmmaking Challenge.

CLP-Main, Teen Dept.
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 3-7PM
Friday, 3-5PM
Workshops: Wednesday and Thursday 4-6PM starting in October
October Workshop: Scary Story Filmmaking Challenge 

Hours and Workshops: Monday, 4-7PM
October Workshop: Scary Story Filmmaking Challenge

CLP-South Side
Hours and Workshops: Tuesday, 4-7PM
October Workshop: Scary Story Filmmaking Challenge

CLP-East Liberty
Hours and Workshops: Wednesday, 4:30-7:30PM
October Workshop: Scary Story Filmmaking Challenge

That’s all for now; I have to run and get everything ready to go!

– Corey, Digital Learning Librarian

Scratch Day @ CLP Main- Teen: Saturday 5/19 from 1 to 4


Are you interested in creating digital videos, games, and animation?  Do you have a vision and passion for digital art, but lack the technical skills?  If you answered yes, then  Scratch is the perfect programming language for you.  Scratch is a visual programming language that was developed by MIT students in order to offer beginner programmers a simple way to create their own interactive stories, games, animations, music, and art.  Scratch is free to download, easy to learn, and offers a safe and supportive community of Scratchers to share your creations with.

Scratch DaySaturday, May 19, 2012– is a worldwide network of gatherings, where people come together to meet fellow Scratchers, share projects and experiences and learn more about Scratch. Last year, more than 125 Scratch Day events were held in 36 countries around the globe.  Scratch Day @ CLP Main- Teen will feature tutorials for newbies, games to help you hone your Scratch abilities, skill sharing for advanced Scratchers, a project showcase, Scratch the Cat button making, peer Scratch tutors, fun, community, and more!

Pittsburgh teenagers (grade 6-12), mentors and educators are strongly encouraged to bring a laptop to the event.  But don’t despair if you can’t bring your own equipment- you will NOT be left out.  A limited number of laptops will be provided for use during the program.

Scratch Day in Pittsburgh is presented by Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Chevron Center for STEM Education and career Development at Carnegie Science Center, The Ellis School and Girls, Math & Science Partnership (a program of Carnegie Science Center). This event is sponsored by The Ellis School and Spark, Supporting the Kids+Creativity Network.

Event web site: http://day.scratch.mit.edu/event/554

Presented by: Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Chevron Center for STEM Education and career Development at Carnegie Science Center, The Ellis School and Girls, Math & Science Partnership a program of Carnegie Science Center

Event fee: FREE

Sponsor: The Ellis School and Spark, Supporting the Kids+Creativity Network

Some refreshments will be provided.

Saturday, May 19, 2012
1:00 pm to 4:00 pm

Teens- Main
4400 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA   15213

For more information, contact:

Science in Space

There’s no denying that science is pretty cool. Its just about impossible to imagine life without scientific discoveries.  I’m a big fan of modern medicine, computers and air travel to name a few. Scientist  have made amazing strides to improve our lives but there’s no telling where the next generation of scientists can take us.  For that reason many people want to do all they can to encourage young scientists to keep thinking. That’s why a few corporations are hoping to give back to the scientific community.

Enter YouTube Space Lab.  Google, YouTube and Lenovo have sponsored a competition for teens 14-18 from all around the world to help generate new experiments to conduct at the International Space Station. The competition generated thousands of 2 minute videos from contenders.

Scientist from all over the world judged the contest and passed 60 experiments on to the finals. Of those 60 videos the very best 6 scientist were invited to Washington DC where they are right now. While they are in DC the finalists are having once in a lifetime experiences like a zero-g parabolic flight, a tour of the Udvar-Hazy Air & Space Museum, and an awards dinner that was held last night.  Although its a big honor to have your work chosen as one of the 6 best projects out of thousands of entries, not every experiment can be taken into space. So, at the awards dinner the big winners were announced.

Congratulations to Dorothy and Sara from Michigan, USA:

And Amr from Alexandria, Egypt:

This September the experiments these teens developed will be sent to the International Space Station 250 miles above earth. Their experiments will be carried out by astronauts at the space station and the results will help scientists learn more about how things work in micro gravity.

Stay tuned…


“The lines are straight and swift between the stars.”

It’s summer, so it’s the perfect time to stay up all night and stare at the sky.  Even in the city, you can still see plenty of constellations.  If you find your way outside of the city and away from all the lights, and you can see even more stars.

You can begin your star journey by taking a FREE tour of the Allegheny Observatory (pictured below) in Riverview Park on the North Side.  Tours are offered on Thursday nights from 8-10 pm, and include use of a telescope to get a closer look at the night sky.

Now, if you are ready to venture out on your own to do some star-gazing, here is collection of websites to get you going.

There are apps as well (if you are in possession of smart phone).

  • Google has a popular Sky Map app.  It’s free and will work on multiple types of phones.
  • Apple offers an array of star charting apps.  For example, iStellar is an easy-to-use constellation map.

The library, of course, is a also a great resource for astronomy information. Check out The Manga Guide to the Universe  and other titles listed on our STEM astronomy book list.

 The Manga Guide to the Universe

When you are not looking up in the dark, you can read about a bizillion poems about the stars, starting with the one quoted in the title of this post, Stars at Tallapoosa by Wallace Stevens.

Happy gazing!

Holly, CLP-Main

What Is Your Gut’s Personality?

“You’re probably the member of a club you didn’t even know existed. According to research published this week, we all have one of three ecosystems of bugs in our guts. ”  Andy Coghlan.

The New Scientist recently published a study about bacteria in human digestive tracts.  Scientists already knew that what you think of as “you” is only about 1/10 of the real you.  90% of your cells aren’t even human!  Our bodies are made of a lot of 3rd party bacteria.  And now we know that our guts will fall into one of three bateria camps.  Depending on which of the three families your bacteria belong to, you will get your energy from different foods, such as carbs or protein.   For more weird science news about your body, check out some of our fun books.  And if you need more suggestions, you know where to find us!



Excellent Science Resources

Need a current event in science? Check out this site: Science Daily. It summarizes (usually in a mere page or two) cutting edge science research from peer-reviewed journal articles. Not only will you be able to easily understand it and write a quick summary or report; Science Daily articles cover diverse areas such as biology, medicine, physics, chemistry, climate science and more. You are sure to find something interesting to write about, even if you think you’re not really all that into science.

And for those who are really into science (and thinking about pursuing a science degree in college), check out PLOS Biology (an awesome open access, peer-reviewed biology journal) and Stanford University’s Highwire Press (which partners with independent scholarly journals and university presses to provide access to abstracts and many free, full-text articles). If you’re planning on majoring in science, you’re going to be reading a lot of these complex journal articles, so you may as well get some practice. Both sites host free full-text science articles, and Highwire even hosts articles from other academic disciplines).

Check out these books for more help writing about science and writing research reports in general:


Sara Dora, CLP-Hazelwood

This is your brain!

If you are a teenager, your brain is still growing.

I feel pretty confident in saying that we have probably all done things without knowing why we were doing them, or really thinking about the outcome.  These moments probably occur more often during the teen years.  As a scientist in a recent article on NPR says:

“[we] used to think human brain development was pretty complete by age 10. Or as she puts it, that ‘a teenage brain is just an adult brain with fewer miles on it.’

But it’s not. To begin with, she says, a crucial part of the brain — the frontal lobes — are not fully connected. Really.

‘It’s the part of the brain that says: “Is this a good idea? What is the consequence of this action?” ‘ Jensen says. ‘It’s not that they don’t have a frontal lobe. And they can use it. But they’re going to access it more slowly.’ “

Not that this is an excuse– even people with connected frontal lobes tend to act before they think some of the time.  But it helps to explain why it feels so crazy sometimes just being a teen.

photo from flickr user perpetualplum

Another interesting thing I’ve read recently about teenage brains is the way that they learn things.

According to David Walsh (an award-winning psychologist and author of Why Do They Act that Way, and No!)

“When adolescents engage in any activity, certain neurons in the brain receive electrical impulses.  The more often those neurons are activated, the more likely they will fuse together to form an established neural pathway, and therefore the more likely the brain will remember how to engage in that activity.

When a high school student is trying to memorize French vocabulary for a  quiz, she would be well advised to repeat the words, write them down, and say them out loud.  Eventually she won’t have to think twice to remember the words because the repetition helps wire the French terms into her brain.

This phenomenon is true for matters far more complex than memorizing new vocabulary.  Learning to set personal limits, think long term, and appreciate delayed gratification during adolescence will set the precedent for adult patterns and abilities.

(from No!, page 165)

In other words:

Practice Makes Perfect… BIOLOGICALLY!

And it makes more sense to learn stuff when your brain is growing, because it literally gets wired into the brain, and is easier to do when you get older.

Learning a language?  Way harder when you get older?  Breaking a bad habit or forming a good one? The same.  There’s a brainy reason for the saying “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”

You’re actually saving yourself a lot of trouble later by going through the trouble of learning now.  (And as teen librarians, we know to cut you a break sometimes–after all, your brain is still growing.)

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