Making Rockets at the Headlands Branch

On Wednesday, we used water, Alka-Seltzer tablets and old film canisters to make some backyard-safe rockets at our Headlands Branch.

This is a fun and simple craft you and your kid can do if you have any Alka-Seltzer tablets left over from making your own lava lamp.

All you need to do is:

1. Get a container that closes airtight. The smaller it is, the easier this experiment will be. We used old film canisters. (They make a satisfying *pop* noise that you can hear repeatedly in our video.) But you could even use a Ziploc bag as long as you close it securely.

2. Put water in the canister.

3. Drop in an Alka-Seltezer tablet.

4. Secure the top onto the canister so it’s airtight.

5. Set the canister down and give it some space. The tablet and the water are interacting and creating carbon dioxide. Eventually, it will create too much gas for the container to hold and shoot its top off.

There won’t be any fire in this explosion, but it could still hypothetically whack you in the eye; so it would be safest to wear goggles.

By the way, if you put less water in the canister, then it actually causes a bigger pop because it leaves space for more gas. However, you’ll have to wait longer for your container to pop.

You can do a similar experiment with a Ziploc bag, warm water, baking soda and vinegar. Put the warm water in the bag first, then three scoops of baking soda wrapped in a tissue, and finally the vinegar. Make sure the bag is sealed completely shut or it will just leak instead of popping.

For more fun experiments and programs at Mentor Library, visit

Olivia and Bella prep their rockets for launch.

Olivia and Bella prep their rockets for launch.

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Mentor Public Library starts writing club for kids

Eric Remchick brainstorms what he would write in a journal.

Eric Remchick brainstorms what he would write in a journal.

Mentor Public Library has a book club for children who love to read, a comics club for fans of sequential art and Studio MPL for kids who love every other kind of art.

But, until recently, it didn’t have a club for burgeoning writers. That’s why Judy Schulz started our Wordplay Creative Writing Club.

“I decided to start this monthly club after working with Lisa Layton on our Studio MPL programs and with Marilyn Weiss on our Comics Club,” Judy said. “The one area we don’t address is writing, but we have had several children who have mentioned that they write stories. I thought that a group like Wordplay could bring together the children who enjoy writing.”

Valerie Akins and Juliana Kless share their stories during Wordplay.

Valerie and Juliana share their stories during Wordplay.

Wordplay give the kids some creative ways to develop their interests. This week, kids learned about journals, diaries and different fiction books like the Wimpy Kid, Ellie McDoodle and Amelia series, which use journals as a narrative tool.

Wordplay Creative Writing Club meets at 4:30 p.m. on the second Wednesday of every month at our Main Branch.  It’s free and open to any kids in third through sixth grade. The next meeting is Sept. 10.

You can register your child for Wordplay by calling (440) 255-8811 ext. 221 or by visiting the Mentor Library’s website.

Julie Namciu writes where her imagination takes her.

Julie Namciu writes where her imagination takes her.

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Digital Bookmobile coming to Mentor Library

DBMtruckRemember the old bookmobiles? They would come to your neck of the woods and you could check out a book or two?

The OverDrive Digital Bookmobile is kind of like that… except it’s going to show you how you can download as many eBooks as you want from Mentor Public Library for free whenever you like.

It will also show you how to stream video via OverDrive to your computers, phones and devices—once again, for free, as long as you have a Mentor Library card.

You can even test out different kinds of tablets, smart phones and eReaders in the Digital Bookmobile’s gadget gallery.

At 74-feet long, this bookmobile is also a little bit bigger than its predecessor. But it takes an 18-wheel tractor-trailer to house all this cool stuff.

You can check out OverDrive’s Digital Bookmobile (and all of Mentor Public Library’s digital services) when it visits from 2 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 19, at our Main Branch.

The vehicle is equipped with Internet-connected PCs, high-definition monitors, premium sound systems, and a variety of portable media players, all of which help you explore MPL’s digital services.

It doesn’t matter if you use a Kindle, iPad, Nook, smartphone or even your computer. You can use it to stream video or music, download songs, read your favorite magazine or check out a book from Mentor Library.

Come by MPL’s Main Branch Tuesday, check the Digital Bookmobile out and learn how you can get even more out of your library card.


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Fantasy Football mastermind sharing his knowledge at Mentor Library

Matt Borcas also knew about LeBron coming back before you.

Matt Borcas also knew about LeBron coming back before you.

When it comes to fantasy football, everybody has an opinion but not everybody knows their stuff.

Matt Borcas knows his stuff, and he’ll be sharing his fantasy-football acumen for free on Wednesday, Aug. 20, at Mentor Public Library’s Main Branch.

Borcas has been writing about fantasy football since August 2012 for Grantland, the Disney-owned sports and lifestyle website. He earned his position by winning a season-long fantasy writing competition during the 2012 football season.

The Lake Catholic graduate had stiff competition—including two published authors, a journalist who had written for the New York Times and another who wrote for a newspaper in Washington, D.C.—but he still came out on top.

Borcas will discuss the upcoming fantasy season at the library, including positional previews, general tips for owners, draft-day etiquette, sleepers to watch and more.

And you better hear what he has to say; because, even if you don’t, the other guys in your league will.

“Though I can’t guarantee you’ll win your league as a result of attending this event, not coming would put you at a severe disadvantage,” Borcas said.

(And you should trust Borcas’s predictions. After all, he knew LeBron was coming back.)

To register for Borcas’s Fantasy Football preview, visit Mentor Library’s website or call 440-255-8811 ext. 215. For more of his wisdom on everything from Drake’s cronies to the Flying J scandal, you can follow him on Twitter.

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Health District talks about building healthy meals

My Plate is an update on the food pyramid.

My Plate is an update on the food pyramid.

You’re probably familiar with USDA’s food pyramid. It had grains on bottom, then fruits and veggies, meat and dairy, and finally a little bit of sugar on top. (If you’re a bit older, you remember the four food groups.)

The USDA has updated its nutrition guide and replaced its pyramid with a plate.

My Plate encourages people to proportion their daily meals. It suggests each meal be half fruits and vegetables, a fourth whole grains and a fourth lean protein. A serving of low-fat dairy can be added too.

The Lake County General Health District visited the Mentor Library last week to talk about My Plate and offer some tips on how to keep both your meals and your diet balanced.

1. Make at least half your grains whole

When you can, choose whole-grain cereals, breads, rice and pasta.

2. Make half your plate fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are good for your body. Use them as snacks, side dishes and work them into your entrees. Eat a variety of fruits and veggies to get as many nutrients as possible.

3. Eat the right amount of calories for you

Watch your portion sizes, and that’s easier to do if you’re cooking at home. However, if you are eating out, try to choose a lower-calorie option. The My Plate website even has a food tracker to help you reach your nutrition goals.

4. Vary your protein food choices

You don’t have to just eat chicken with each meal. You can eat seafood, beans and peas, nuts, eggs and other lean meats, along with poultry. Try grilling, broiling, poaching or roasting your food. These preparations don’t add any extra fat to your meal.

5. Switch to skim or 1% milk

Low-fat milk has the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients with fewer calories than 2-percent or whole milk.

6. Drink water instead of sugary drinks

Energy drinks, sports drinks and soda are easy ways to tack on sugar and calories. Cut those calories by drinking water or other unsweetened beverages instead.

7. Be physically active your way

Diet is just part of the equation. To be healthy, you need to get active. Of course, that doesn’t mean you need to run a marathon tomorrow. Pick activities you like and start by doing what you can, at least 10 minutes at a time. You’ll be surprised how much you can do as your endurance improves.

8. Cut back on foods high in solid fats, added sugars and salt

Be mindful of how much fat, sugar and salt you’re allowing in your diet. We know it’s not good for us, but we let ourselves forget when something looks good at the restaurant or at the grocery store.

Check out for more healthy tips and ways to keep track of what you eat.

Click here for more tips on how to eat and live healthy from the Lake County General Health District.

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