Summer is fast approaching – and we have the perfect tools for your outdoor adventures – Family Science Backpacks.
Science is in everything, and there is no better way to experience it than in the outside world doing something fun. Family Science Backpacks are filled with tools to explore the world with an eye for wonder as a citizen scientist. There are six themes, which include: Birding, Bugs and Butterflies, Hiking (tree and flower identification), Rock Hounding, Star Gazing, and Water Wonder.
Backpacks can be borrowed for 1 week with any Portland Public Library card in good standing, but an adult needs to be present at the time of check out. A family may borrow one backpack at a time and they are available in the Sam L. Cohen Children’s Library.
The Family Science Backpacks are a joint project of the Library’s Science and Technology and Children’s Teams. This project was made possible through the generous grant from the University of Southern Maine’s Thoughtful Giving Foundation.
The Birding backpack contains binoculars, a bird call, a bird call identification CD, a magnifying glass, and a clipboard case, as well as books for children and adults to identify birds. Patrons are encouraged to explore the Birds of North America database accessible with a library card, and engage in citizen science projects like the Great Backyard Bird Count.
The Bugs and Butterflies backpack contains a butterfly net, binoculars, a magnifying glass, a two-way bug viewer, an insect habitat, and a clipboard case, as well as books for children and adults to recognize bugs, butterflies, and invasive species. Patrons can contribute to projects like the Monarch Map while using these tools.
The Hiking backpack contains a compass, a magnifying glass, binoculars, a plant press, a head lamp, maps of Peaks Island and Maine’s Southern Coast, a clipboard case, and materials for children and adults to identify and collect samples of trees, wildflowers and wild plants.
The Rock Hounding backpack comes with safety glasses, a rock hammer, a sand scoop, a gold panning bowl, plastic bags to collect specimens, a box of sample specimens, a scale of hardness, a magnifying glass, and a clipboard case. Maine Geological Survey provides a plethora of information on Maine’s geology, including virtual geology tours and descriptions of rock fields.
The Star Gazing backpack comes with binoculars, a red beam flashlight, a folding star chart, a moon map, a space blanket, a magnifying glass, and a clipboard case. Patrons can check it out with one of the library’s telescopes, and learn more about the night sky. There are lots of ways to help astronomers, by looking at moon craters online, looking for solar storms, and more. The library also offers cardholders a pass to the Southworth Planetarium at USM.
The Water Wonder backpack contains an aquascope, a pail and shovel, plastic bags to collect specimens, an aquatic dip net, a magnifying glass, binoculars, and a clipboard case. Patrons can help on projects like the Southern Maine Volunteer Beach Monitors, and the citizen stewards water quality program.
In addition to these packs, patrons can check out a microscope, seeds, and other scientific tools. The Library is committed to providing science literacy to the community through hands on exploratory tools and opportunities for patrons of all ages.