Entertainment Section
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Chemistry Contest Writers Contest Creativity Games Online Babysitting Video Games Playdate Etiquette Holiday Party Success Futuristic Video Game Wall-Mounted TV


Contest To Celebrate Wonders Of Chemistry

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(NAPSI)-If your kids have ever watched a movie or TV show and asked, “Wow, how did they do that?” they may be interested to learn that many seemingly magical special effects are really chemistry at work.

You can help children learn more about chemistry and special effects by participating in National Chemistry Week (NCW) 2010. As part of this year’s celebration, the American Chemical Society (ACS) is hosting a national poster contest for kids from kindergarten to 12th grade. Invite students to create a poster that celebrates the theme “Behind the Scenes with Chemistry.”

The poster should be fun, motivational and inspire students to learn how costume designers, makeup artists, graphic artists and special effects technicians use chemistry to create the special effects that make movies and TV shows so much fun to enjoy!

First- and second-place prizes for the best posters will be awarded in the following categories: grades K to 2, 3 to 5, 6 to 8, and 9 to 12. The first-place prize is $100 and second-place is $50.

Contest Rules

All entries must be original works without aid from others and must be no larger than 14 x 22 inches. Entries must be hand drawn using crayons, paint, colored pencils or markers.

Judging

Entries will be evaluated based on artistic merit (use of color, quality of drawing, poster design and layout), poster message (should be fun, motivational and promote chemistry’s important role in life), originality, creativity and neatness.

Anyone can join in the celebration of NCW 2010 and get ready to celebrate the International Year of Chemistry 2011 (IYC 2011) by visiting www.acs.org/iyc2011.

Here are some simple things children can do at home or in the classroom. Using household chemicals, they can create:

• Fake snow or fog that will fool their friends

• Paper that changes color before their eyes

• Fake blood that looks real.

To find out how to make these special effects, go to www.acs.org/ncw.

Families can also attend a Science Café to learn more about the wonders of chemistry and how they are used to produce movies and TV shows. Go to www.acs.org/ncw to find a Science Café event near you.

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Writers Of The Future

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(NAPSI)-Writers and illustrators who enter an annual contest may earn more than cash prizes—they may win an invaluable opportunity to be coached by experienced professionals in the field.

With this kind of help, many of these writers go on to achieve notable success. So far, more than 700 novels have been published by the winners of the Writers of the Future contest, which awards over $30,000 in prizes annually.

The most successful contest for aspiring writers to have a chance for their creative efforts to be seen and acknowledged, it has the highest success rate in launching careers of any writing competition.

This year’s winners attended a workshop taught by best-selling author Kevin J. Anderson (“Dune” series), World Fantasy Award winner Tim Powers (“On Stranger Tides,” to be adapted as the fourth “Pirates of the Caribbean” film) and acclaimed artist Stephen Hickman. For more information or to see the recent awards ceremony, go to www.writersofthefuture.com.

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Online Community Encourages Kids’ Creativity

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(NAPSI)-Scott, a Downingtown, Pa. middle school student, walked into class one day to a pleasant surprise. His technical education teacher instructed the class to use a fun, online collaborative game to further its classroom experience. Less than a year later, the phenomenon has spread through the school like wildfire. According to Scott and his mother, the use of technology and fun online destinations has had a positive effect on Scott’s academic performance and now leave him with the dream of one day working in the online entertainment industry.

Much like Scott’s teacher, many educators and parents are leveraging online tools and technology to encourage their kids’ imagination and growth.

Online Tools

A free, online building game and community gives kids the opportunity to be creative and encourages them to leverage their skills to build personalized spaces populated with characters, vehicles, homes, high-rise buildings, pirate ships and even major landmarks such as Mt. Rushmore and the White House. Kids employ basic math, programming and physics knowledge to create one-of-a-kind games, avatars and online interactive spaces. In fact, virtually everything in this infinite playground is designed and constructed by its young members.

How It Works

Each player starts by creating an avatar and giving it an identity. Players can then explore the site and interact with others by chatting, playing games or collaborating on projects. They also get a piece of undeveloped “real estate” along with a virtual toolbox with which to design and build anything they can imagine—be it a navigable skyscraper, a working helicopter, a giant pinball machine, a multiplayer capture the flag game or some other, yet-to-be-dreamed-up object or activity. By playing the games and building cool things, members can earn specialty badges as well as in-game virtual currency. They can use the currency to shop the online catalog to purchase avatar clothing and accessories.

School Projects

A recent internal survey of players and their parents found a correlation between students who use the system for school projects and the subsequent improvements of their academic grades. According to members, the Roblox game has been used for such school projects as:

• Building a replica of the Gold Rush of California

• Re-creating the Cuban Revolution

• Developing a virtual diorama for Veterans Day

• Demonstrating the big bang theory

• Illustrating the anatomy of the body.

Learn More

For more information, visit www.roblox.com.

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Babysitting Fun With Interactive Video Game

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(NAPSI)-A new video game for WiiTM lets girls and their families experience adventures in babysitting in a fun and innovative way. “Babysitting Mama” is the latest release in the best-selling Cooking Mama franchise that has sold over 7 million units and turned players of all ages into cooking, gardening, crafting and now babysitting enthusiasts.

It’s the first game that lets girls play with a Wii game and interactive baby together. When players tuck the Wii RemoteTM into the back of the plush baby included with the game, the baby itself turns into the controller. In this one-of-a-kind play experience, girls can enjoy 40 different activities, from feeding, changing and playing peek-a-boo, to rocking the in-game baby asleep as they rock the plush baby in their arms. The plush baby also “comes to life” as cries and coos play through the Wii Remote inside the baby, making it seem as if baby is responding directly to the player’s care.

The game features six unique babies, each with his or her own personality and needs, along with a range of indoor and outdoor environments that mama and baby can play in together. The game also supports two-player mode, so friends can see who the better babysitter is. When the game is off, players can continue to play with the baby, and even use the adorable cradle packaging as part of the play experience.

Published by Majesco Entertainment, the game is rated E and is now available at major retail stores nationwide for $49.99.

To watch the gameplay trailer and learn more, visit www.babysittingmama.com.

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Playdate Etiquette

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(NAPSI)-The next time your youngsters want a playdate, it can seem more like child’s play for you.

Here are some tips about the rules of playdates, according to expert mommy blogger Kemi Ingram of MOMboTV, an Internet television channel for mindful mothers. She suggests:

1. First, set a definitive beginning but keep the ending time flexible. Flexibility in playdate end times can help keep things relaxed. Just be sure to communicate when you have to leave.

2. Encourage a spirit of cooperation...not competition. The focus of a playdate should be on “play.” It’s not the time to compare rates of development or to encourag one-upmanship among children. Your child’s achievements should not be the focus of playdate conversation.

3. The best playdates are those that offer a range of activities for children with diverse interests. When hosting a playdate, it often works well to have a few crafty things such as crayons, toys for pretend play, cooperative games and an outdoor activity, weather permitting.

4. Offer praise when you see a child doing something nice for another, such as sharing, taking turns, working together and so on. Also, keep a close eye on your own children and reprimand them if need be. Don’t leave it up to another parent or child to address an issue of your child not sharing or taking turns.

5. Give children fair warning when a playdate is ending and encourage them to participate in any necessary cleanup.

6. It’s usually a good idea to ask the participating playdate moms beforehand about any food allergies or food sensitivities. Always make sure there are enough snacks to share, particularly healthful snacks that can meet a variety of dietary needs. For example, Funky Monkey Snacks come in many different flavors to suit different tastes, and they are all-natural, 100 percent fruit, gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, peanut- and tree nut−free and contain no added sugars, colors, flavors or preservatives, plus they’re even kosher and vegan. Each ounce contains three servings of fruit.

For more information, visit www.FunkyMonkeySnacks.com.

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Holiday Entertaining: Tips To Help You Throw A Successful Holiday Party

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(NAPSI)-‘Tis the season for food, friends and family! Entertaining during the holidays can be hectic, but with a little bit of planning, it’s possible to throw a festive, fun party without the worry. Here are some tips to help you host a stylish celebration that will impress your guests:

• Trim the Table: Make your holiday table shine using everyday items. Place multicolored ornaments in a large clear vase to create a sparkling centerpiece or dress up a credenza using natural elements like pinecones or evergreen branches.

• Mix and Mingle: Serve appetizers in small, stylish serving cups that make it easy to enjoy some snacks while mingling. Put out mini forks as well so that there is no worry about messy finger foods.

• Dazzle with Disposables: Hosting a party with a large guest list but don’t have enough place settings? Look for disposable place settings that look like the real thing and are a fashionable, affordable alternative to paper plates and fine china.

• Carefree Cleanup: Enjoy your party stress-free! Using disposable party ware gives you the option to toss the mess so you can spend less time huddled over the sink and more time savoring good food and good company.

• Spread the Holiday Cheer: Don’t stress over losing a family heirloom. Pick up a pack of stylish, plastic platters and serving bowls so you can send leftovers home with your guests without having to worry about them returning your dish.

Set your holiday table with style using Mozaïk® Party Ware by Sabert. Available in both Classic and Contemporary styles, Mozaïk products include round and rectangular plates, silver-look cutlery serving items and mini appetizer ware, creating a sophisticated impression at every occasion. The collection looks like real permanent ware, but can actually be washed and reused or simply disposed.

To learn more, you can visit www.mozaikbysabert.com.

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Futuristic Weapons Take The Spotlight

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(NAPSI)-With the forever-changing landscape of military combat and weapons, the outlook for warfare dominated by large-scale war machines seems like an inevitability rather than a possibility. Taking a glimpse into the future, a new video game puts players in control of bipedal walking tanks called Wander Panzers (WAPs), also known as “wanzers,” in the midst of a military operation to quell an impending war. This is a familiar type of combat machine that has been featured in many forms of entertainment, ranging from anime to film to video games, and is beginning to emerge in the real world.

When the first tanks clanked and rumbled onto the battlefield almost a century ago, they were slow and cumbersome machines. However, they had unmatched mobility, crossing trenches and other obstacles with ease on their caterpillar tracks. Tracked vehicles have dominated warfare ever since but even they have limitations. Legs are far more agile than tracks or wheels and foot soldiers operate in mountainous terrain and jungles that are impassable to vehicles. The military has long been interested in vehicles that can match the mobility of a human, but it’s a formidable challenge.

The first attempt at humanoid vehicles began in 1962, when General Electric carried out work for the U.S. Army on a Pedipulator, a humanoid vehicle with 12-foot legs. Today, advanced technology has made walking machines a reality. Boston Dynamics’ BigDog is a quadruped robot designed to carry supplies for foot soldiers. Thanks to advanced sensors and control systems, it can cope with ice and steep slopes, quickly recover its balance after slipping, canter and jump obstacles.

The U.S. Army is also testing exoskeleton technology known as the Human Universal Load Carrier (HULC) made by Lockheed Martin, which uses a pair of robot legs that let the wearer easily carry a 200-pound load uphill. The XOS, by Raytheon’s Sarcos lab, is a complete exoskeleton with powered arms and legs. Modern electronics make it highly responsive and the wearer can jog up a slope, kick a football or use a punching bag.

This technology is intended for transporting cargo and might be considered too vulnerable for combat due to the high profile of walking machines. However, they can duck down or even lie flat to take cover. And the comparatively narrow profile and unpredictable movements of bipedal machines will make them a difficult target.

A soldier wearing XOS could carry heavier weapons and better armor than when unassisted. If the Legged Squad Support System were converted into an assault machine rather than lurking behind the troops, it could be armored and armed with a formidable array of weapons.

Much like modern-day soldiers, players of FRONT MISSION EVOLVED by video game developers Square Enix and Double Helix Games will need to customize their wanzers to adapt to their surrounding environment and enemy, including camouflage and optimizing mobility for different terrain. Specialized leg parts and upgrades in weaponry help ensure supremacy as players fight high-intensity battles through metropolises such as a futuristic New York City. In addition to the single-player campaign, players can pit their wanzers against opponents from around the world, proving the superiority of their war machines in four different multiplayer modes. The game embeds players in heart-pounding, large-scale action unlike anything they have ever seen before.

The game is rated T (Teen) and available for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Windows PC. For more information, visit www.frontmissionevolved.com.

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Tune Into Your Television, Not Hanging Wires

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(NAPSI)-High-definition flat-screen televisions are among the most popular home electronics items, and mounting them on walls has become a common practice. But if cords and cables hang from a mounted TV to the ground, viewers might focus on the mess instead of the entertainment.

Think about it—have you ever been watching television and noticed a lamp or window reflection on the screen? It becomes all you see, and you can’t really tune back into the show without turning off the light or drawing the curtains. The same thing happens when a wall-mounted TV has a bunch of wires hanging underneath it.

Homeowners can prevent this ugly distraction in a couple of ways. A Flat-Screen Television Cord Cover Kit offers a simple solution for those who don’t want to fumble with wires. Just measure the height between the TV and the electrical outlet, cut the cord cover to size, and use the wall anchors and screws to secure its base. Then lay in the cords and cables and snap on the cover.

A Cord Cover’s sleek profile keeps wires protected and it can be painted to match the wall color, too. It’s subtle enough to keep one’s focus on the TV but another option eliminates the need for wires to hang at all.

A Recessed Television Box can be installed at the same height as the TV, with all the necessary power and low-voltage connections recessed into the wall (instead of flush with the wall, like traditional electrical outlets). This frees up space to hide wires behind the wall-mounted TV for a clean, uncluttered look.

A Recessed Television Box can even include a surge suppression outlet, which protects the TV from damaging electrical surges—such as those from lightning strikes—without the bulkiness of a power strip.

Whether you’re experienced with electrical work or a novice, these solutions can hide wires and keep everyone’s eyes on the television screen. Both items can be found at retail outlets such as Lowe’s and Menards. For more information, visit www.betterelectrical.com.

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