Make Your Own Neighborhood

What is a neighborhood? Your neighborhood is where you live, but how do you know where it stops? Who decided what would be in it?

Neighborhoods are made up of many different things. Most of them probably include destinations, or places you go because you want to or because you need to. A destination might be your school, the grocery store, or a mailbox near your home. Neighborhoods include the streets, sidewalks or paths you travel to get to a destination. And they include edges. Edges can be physical barriers that you can't cross easily, such as a highway, or boundaries that you can cross if you need to, such as a busy street or a park. Some edges are invisible - for example, the place where one neighborhood meets another.

You can create a make-believe neighborhood and make it exactly the way you want it to be.

First, make a list of what you would like to have in your neighborhood. What do you like about the neighborhood you live in now? What would you change? What destinations should be included? Your school? Your best friend's house? Would your mother or father work in the neighborhood? How much space should be around each building? How big will the neighborhood be, and what will the edges be?

You don't need to think about how the buildings will look - that can be another project. For this project, think about how the neighborhood would look if you could fly over it.

Next, make the neighborhood. You need:

1) a paper or cardboard base

2) markers or crayons

3) glue

4) something to use for buildings. You can draw little shapes for the buildings, or you can use sugar cubes, cereal squares, or marshmallows.

5) something to use for grass, trees and bushes, like green pasta, or shapes cut out of green paper.

6) something to use for water, if you want to include a lake or a stream. You can draw the water with blue crayons, or cut it out of blue paper.

You can build your neighborhood any way you want. You can put the grass in first, if you want grassy places, or you can draw in the streets and sidewalks. If a pond or a river is important in your neighborhood, you can put that in first. A small dab of glue will hold the buildings in place. Remember not to eat any marshmallows that have glue on them.

When you are finished, put the neighborhood on the floor and look down at it. Pretend you are flying over it. Does it look like a place you would like to live?

Bug's Eye View

Sometimes it is hard to see what an insect looks like up close. It may run or fly away when you get near, or bite or sting if you try to pick it up. But here is a chance to see exactly what a Tiger Beetle looks like, up very, very close.

Tiger Beetles are long-legged, slender insects about an inch long that run and fly. Some of them are very colorful, with bright blue or green on their backs, and most of them have sparkly, metallic colors on their underparts. They are called Tiger Beetles because they are hunters that chase their prey the way tigers do.

Look at the pictures surrounding the beetle. They were taken with a scanning electron microscope and show different parts of the beetle, which match the areas inside the squares. Can you figure out which parts are which? The answers are printed upside down on the bottom of the following page.

There are bugs all over Carnegie Museum of Natural History this summer. The exhibit Backyard Monsters includes hundreds of different insects. Some of them are mounted in display cases, and some are alive for you to see and touch. There are lots of different games and activities, and the huge models of a scorpion, black widow spider, unicorn beetle, praying mantis, and dragonflies will help you imagine how it feels to be a tiny ant coming face to face with the monsters in your back yard.

If you have questions about insects, you can call the experts at Carnegie Museum of Natural History at 622-3259.

Nine-year-old Cameron Kelly, from Pittsburgh, sent us this story after we invited children in our May/June 1998 issue to make up stories about what they see in the stars. Just like our published example of the Lakota tale of "Fallen Star," Cameron's story seeks to explain the origin of the physical universe.

The Story of the Stars - Tiger & Wolf

One day, two spirits, Tiger & Wolf, were walking and observing the world, when Wolf sneezed, and the stuff that came out glittered. Tiger said, "Hey, this would make a nice addition to the night! Why don't we put it there?" Wolf agreed, so they put the stuff in the night sky. They called it the stars. "Star" meant "snuff" in the spirit language. One night, Eagle was blowing the wind, when he caught some of the stars in his nose. He sneezed and created the hurricane and tornado and all storms. Another night, Whale was swimming around when he caught the stars in his nose. He sneezed and created waves. Even today, you can still hear Whale and Eagle sneezing when you hear a wave or thunderstorm. Starless nights are when Wolf isn't allergic to anything he observes.


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