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Shape up for school

Posted by Courtney Hollands  August 23, 2010 03:24 PM

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Can we really be nearing the end of summer and school vacation? Parents: Here are some events to help get your Little Einsteins back in school shape. And, kids: Put on those thinking caps.

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Take a Family Ecology Cruise: All aboard the Yankee Clipper! Aspiring scientists will enjoy testing pH and picking out plankton in water samples from the lower Merrimack River. Also, look for seals, wading birds, and waterfowl on your sail. This calls for a rousing game of "I Spy." Suitable for ages 3-12 and children must be accompanied by an adult. 8:45-10:45 a.m. Aug. 28. $27, $19 for children ($20, $16 for members). Joppa Flats Education Center, One Plum Island Turnpike, Newburyport. 978-462-9998. massaudubon.org

Touch the sky (almost) at Public Observatory Night: Each week, the Boston University Observatory opens it doors to star gazers everywhere. Binoculars and telescopes provide an up-close-and-personal view of planets, stars, and the moon. You might even learn a thing or two about astronomy. Free. 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays. BU Observatory, 725 Commonwealth Ave., Boston. 617-353-2630. bu.edu/astronomy/events

See the city through the eyes of a child on a Boston By Little Feet tour: The Boston By Foot tour company offers this 60-minute walk for youngsters ages 6-12. It follows the Freedom Trail, and though it includes all the essential historical and cultural sites, it also covers more quirky ground like the Shem's grasshopper weather vane atop Faneuil Hall. (Its creator was Shem Drowne, the first documented weathervane maker — who knew?) $8. 10 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. on Sundays. Tours leave from Faneuil Hall. 617-367-2345. bostonbyfoot.org

Spend Sunday morning at the Harvard Natural History Museum: Admission to this fabulous museum is free for Massachusetts residents from 9 a.m. to noon on Sundays and from 3-5 p.m. on Wednesdays (during the school year). Browse the glass flower collection or check out new exhibit "Headgear: The Natural History of Horns and Antlers." Learn how antlers evolved and see how animals use them in combat. Free with proof of residency. 9 a.m.-noon Sundays; 3-5 p.m. Wednesdays. Harvard Natural History Museum, 26 Oxford St., Cambridge. 617-495-3045. hmnh.harvard.edu

Get musical at Franklin Park Zoo: The last performer in the zoo's Wild August Family Music Series is Squantch (say that name 10 times fast). Hear him noodle on the didgeridoo, a wind instrument played by the Aboriginal people in Australia. After the concert, check out the Aussie Aviary exhibit on the Outback Trail for an afternoon Down Under, mate. Free with zoo admission: $14, $11 seniors, $8 ages 2-12. 1-3 p.m. Aug. 28. Franklin Park Zoo, One Franklin Park Road, Boston. 617-541-5466. zoonewengland.org

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Stephanie Callahan is a native Bostonian who loves cooking, traveling, spa treatments, and being on the ocean.

Meghan Colloton is a Bostonian who loves traveling, channeling her inner Julia Child, and trying weird things -- from food to bungee jumping.

Milva DiDomizio is a New England native who's fond of cooking, singing, and Boston's arts and culture scene.

Rachel Raczka is a Bostonian who enjoys buttercream frosting, gin cocktails, and conquering cobblestone streets in high heels.

Emily Sweeney is a Boston native who goes out all over, from Irish pubs in Southie to the roller rink in Dorchester.

Emily Wright is a native Cape Codder who enjoys exercising, baking, and the occasional guilty pleasure action movie.

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