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Discovering Fun-Filled World of 'Science'


When does a child's natural joy of discovery turn into science- and learning-phobia? Never, if the creators of a new video guide, "Science, Discovery & Laughter," have anything to say about it.

This entertaining tutorial for parents and teachers, produced by the Science Club of Seattle, is chock-full of hands-on, easy-to-do activities for adults and children to enjoy together.

Make "Martian Mud," a weird, cornstarch-based concoction that acts like a solid and a liquid. Create nifty "meteor" craters with backyard stones and a tub of flour and cocoa powder. Use "magic" to make pepper move, take a "sock walk" for an unusual "growing experience"--a garden in a sock--or mix up some wonderfully gooey "glop" that bounces and stretches.

The video offers tips for using the experiments as leaping-off points for further discovery, aided by a terrific accompanying booklet. It also shows by example how to encourage children and enhance and share their pleasure in learning something new. Most important, it serves as a reminder that there shouldn't be an age limit to curiosity and imagination.

* "Science, Discovery & Laughter," The Science Club, 58 minutes, $19.95, (800) 391-6939. Available in English or Spanish.


Childhood Revisited: You'd think a film based on the childhood memories of author Astrid Lindgren ("Pippi Longstocking") and directed by Lasse Hallstrom ("My Life as a Dog") would be a hands-down winner. But "The Children of Noisy Village," a live-action, feature-length release on video, is something less than that.

Lacking the anarchic charm of Lindgren's comical "Pippi" stories, or any sense of the poignant, tumultuous reality of childhood, this pastorale has the dynamic of a rural stroll. Set in an idealized little village in early 20th century Sweden, the meandering action, seen through the eyes of a 9-year-old girl, takes place over a summer, as six children in a pre-TV world play and help out with farm and home chores.

Summer showers, a hayloft sleepover, trapping crayfish, bringing in the hay, picking flowers--the only emotional counterpoint is provided by a mildly cranky shoemaker.

Still, if the charm seems bland and self-conscious, the idyllic country setting is stunningly shot, and there's something to be said for a film where children are not artificially wise, there are no tragedies, crimes, car chases, guns or dysfunctional families--love is a given.

* "The Children of Noisy Village," First Run Features, 88 minutes, $24.95. Information: (800) 229-8575.


Grandparent Alert:The UCLA Fowler Museum's "Grand Day" celebration of grandparents will be a festive, all-day occasion Sept. 8, kicking off with "3rd Rock From the Sun" star John Lithgow in his "Kid-Size Concert" of traditional and original children's songs. Storyteller Sybil Desta will perform tales about families, Indonesian artists Dwi Sutaryantha and Nyoman Kawiwati will create ancestral rice offerings and families can design their own family trees and explore art exhibitions.

* "Grand Day," UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History, UCLA campus, just west of Royce Hall, Sept. 8, 1-6 p.m. Included in museum admission: adults, $5; seniors, $3; free to museum members and ages 17 and under. Parking (in lots 4 and 5), $5.

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