Library's fun learning kits teach kids science, math, art and more
As he played with a prism, casting rainbows over the table, Jason Zambrano, a student at Ozona Elementary, realized that more than just books are available at his public library.
Jason, a rising fourth-grader, recently sat down with Lois Eannel, assistant director of the Palm Harbor Library, to look over the library's new "S.T.E.A.M Kits.''
The kits are designed to help families support educators' efforts in the STEM Initiative, a nationwide push to strengthen students' skills in science, technology, engineering and math. But Eannel took STEM a step further. She added "A'' for art.
"These are not toys. These are designed to reinforce learning, but they are designed to be fun, and we feel art is important," Eannel said. "We also wanted to make sure that kids who are more right-brained — the art kids — don't miss out.''
The staff at the library spent about four months collecting the items for the 10 S.T.E.A.M. Kits. Each kit is geared to a specific age group and topics range from ecology to microscopic life to architecture to electricity.
"Because different kids absorb information differently, we included books, DVDs, and we've got materials like microscopes, a Van de Graaff electricity generator, as well as items like rubber stamps and games,'' Eannel said. "This all would be cost-prohibitive for many families, so we are making it available here at the library.''
Each kit cost approximately $200 to put together, and funding came from donations to the library, including a $3,000 check from the Palm Harbor and Oldsmar fire departments, which held a golf tournament to benefit the library last spring.
The kits can be checked out for 14 days. For information, call (727) 784-3332, ext. 3018.
Learn about flood zone changes at open house
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is tweaking its flood maps, and more than 1,400 properties in the Alligator Creek area of eastern Clearwater could end up in a higher flood-risk category.
City engineers will hold an open house from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the East Library, 2251 Drew St., so property owners can see preliminary maps and ask questions about the flood zone study that is under way.
Advanced technology, including more precise mapping and radar, has led to the new map, said Ken Sides, senior professional engineer for the city.
"Nature hasn't changed," Sides said. "We just have a more precise understanding of where water will go in a 100-year flood."
Data indicates that in addition to the 1,400 properties that would be moved to a higher-risk category, 839 parcels would not shift categories and 139 likely would be removed from the high-risk category.
Most of the new additions don't affect buildings, which could require owners to purchase federal flood insurance if they have a mortgage. Regular homeowners insurance doesn't cover flooding.
The $750,000 study, half of which was paid for by the Southwest Florida Water Management District, will wrap up in about two years, Sides said, and FEMA won't make official changes to the flood map before then.
However, city officials wanted to give property owners an early alert about possible changes in their property's classification, Sides said. The open house, where people can look up their parcels on computers, examine maps and talk to engineering staff, won't have a formal presentation. Interested property owners can stop in at any point during the event.
MLK board members needed
The Martin Luther King Jr. Neighborhood Family Center, 900 N Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., Clearwater, is seeking highly motivated people to serve on its governing board. Last year more than 300 households were served by the center, and members of the board help steer the strategic direction of the center, help to set service priorities, evaluate the chief executive officer, participate in fundraising activities and ensure financial accountability to all funding sources. Board members serve a two-year term. For more information, call (727) 442-5355 or visit northgreenwoodmlkjr.org.
Free dental checkups available for children
The Department of Health will provide free children's dental exams and X-rays on Aug. 2 starting at 8 a.m. Appointments are for new patients 4 to 18 years old and are first-come, first-served.
Locations where the exams will be available are 205 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N, St. Petersburg, (727) 824-6975; 8751 Ulmerton Road, Largo, (727) 524-4410; and 310 N Myrtle Ave., Clearwater, (727) 469-5800.
3 sessions offer info on Calvert curriculum
Parents can learn more about a new tuition-free program that offers the Calvert curriculum to full-time Pinellas Virtual School elementary-age students at three upcoming information sessions. The Calvert curriculum is a curriculum provider used by Pinellas Virtual School.
All of the following sessions will be held from 10 to 11 a.m.:
• Monday at Panera Bread, 7380 U.S. 19, Pinellas Park.
• Tuesday at Panera Bread, 1908 Fourth St. N, St. Petersburg.
• Wednesday, Panera Bread, 2532 State Road 580, Clearwater.
Police win recognition — and a Tahoe
The Tarpon Springs Police Department was awarded first place in the 2013 Florida Click it or Ticket Challenge for police agencies with 25-40 sworn patrol officers.
The department also won a 2013 Chevrolet Tahoe police vehicle.
The Florida Click It or Ticket Challenge rewards agencies that address safety belt usage in their communities using a multifaceted approach.
Sgt. Frank Ruggiero, Officer Steve Gassen and Officer Mike Roque represented the agency at the awards ceremony July 19 in Orlando.
Because Tarpon Springs placed first in its category, the department was allowed to select a key to possibly win a new 2013 Chevrolet Tahoe. Roque selected the key that started the vehicle, awarding the agency with one of the four vehicles won statewide.