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Virginia Frank Memorial Writing Contest

The Friends of Omaha Public Library are currently accepting submissions for the Virginia Frank Memorial Writing Contest.  The contest is for students in 5-8th grade.  First prize in each grade is $100.
Here is a link to the contest

The Virginia Frank Memorial Writing contest is held each year in the spring to recognize the creative writing talent of area students. This contest, sponsored by the Friends of Omaha Public Library, recognizes the top three winners from each grade. Each winner receives a cash prize and certificate, is recognized in a ceremony at the library, and has their story published on the library website. The school libraries of each winning student are also recognized with a matching cash prize.

Eligibility Requirements

Stories must be submitted with an entry form to be considered. Complete all fields either online or on a printed entry form and submit with your story.
Students must be in 5th to 8th grade and live in Douglas or Sarpy counties.
Students may be enrolled in public, private, parochial or home school.
Stories must be typed and no longer than 750 words.
Entries must be original fiction featuring a character from a book you have enjoyed and read on your own. Identify the book and author from which your character originated in the title or subtitle of your story.
Only one entry per contestant will be accepted.
The decision of the judges is final.
All entries become the property of Friends of Omaha Public Library (FOPL) and may be featured by Omaha Public Library on its website or social media.
Deadline for entries is February 28, 2020.

First ($100), second ($75) and third place ($50)
Prizes will be awarded to the top three winners from each grade.
The school library of the winning students will be recognized with matching cash prizes.
Read the winning stories from the 2019 Virginia Frank Memorial Writing Contest

About Virginia Frank

The Virginia Frank Memorial Writing Contest began in 2003 and is named in honor of a longtime Friends of Omaha Public Library volunteer. Virginia Frank was a Central High and UNO graduate. She acquired a master’s degree from Brown University and taught English literature and creative writing at UNO for many years. Her passion for students and young people inspired everyone around her, and her enthusiasm encouraged many students to explore their creative writing talents. Frank volunteered thousands of hours with the Friends of OPL to help ensuring a bright future for our public libraries.

#71: 2020 Olympic Medals

80,000 tons of mobile phones and small electronic devices around Japan, which will be used in the crafting of every gold, silver and bronze Olympic and Paralympic medal awarded to athletes at the 2020 Olympic Games.
How can you spend your Math Minutes?

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Early Enrichment #38 Create your own National Day

Did you know that November 3rd

is national sandwich day?

December 7th is national letter writing day,  and January  7th is national bobblehead day.

Click on the red link for each these days and write a few sentence telling us about each


What day do feel deserves to add to the list of national celebrations?

Pickle day? It’s observed on November 15.

How about National fuzzy sock day? It’s a day people celebrate it on December 21st!

What would be a day that you would LOVE to celebrate? Start brainstorming. Create a list of 10 days that you would enjoy having as special days on the calendar.

After you create your list, choose your very favorite day. Create your own informational apple clip project about your day.

Include this information:

The name of your day

3-5 facts about your topic

How we can celebrate this day?

Why it is important enough to be a national day?

Add color and illustrations to your clips.

EXTRA: Do research to find out if your day is already celebrated. If so, add that date to your clip project.

Share your project with your teacher or the EY coordinator in your building.






#61: Math Contests

Who’s up for a contest?

Each week during the 2018-19 school year, a math contest will be posted on the EY Blog.  There are several ways to access the contests.  1. Your teacher should have a poster in his/her room with a QR code you can scan.  2. You can go to the EY Blog main page and select Math -> 2018-19 Math Contests.  3. Click here!

  • Each contest will be a Google Form that you can take on your school iPad.  Although we have no way of checking, we would like for you to take no more than 20 minutes on each contest.
  • Theses contests were designed for students in grades 5-6, but any student is welcome to participate.
  • If there is more than one submission for any particular student, the score for that contest will not be counted.
  • You MAY use a calculator, but please work by yourself!
  • We will keep a running total of your contest points and award prizes periodically.

Good luck and have fun!


#34 Reading Enrichment: Are Dragons Real?


Dragons have been an important character in fairy tales and fantasy stories for ages.  Fire breathing dragons may not exist, but if you consider a dragon to be a supersize reptile with a wicked bite…then have I got a challenge for you!  The Komodo dragon is the real deal!  How can a Komodo dragon, that weighs about 300 pounds, kill a water buffalo that is over twice its size?  Read this article to find out:

The San Diego zoo has a Komodo dragon named Ken.  Watch this video to meet him:

Take it a step further: Komodo dragons only live in one country in the world, Indonesia.  Indonesia is made up of several islands.  Komodo dragons reside on some of the islands, but not all of them.  This website will show you some other interesting facts about Indonesia—home of the Komodo dragon:

What are three facts you learned about Indonesia?  What else would you like to know about Indonesia or Komodo dragons?


A site to use for further research

#55: Coordinate Geometry


Coordinate Geometry is one of my favorite areas of math.  There’s just something about getting a sheet of order pairs and carefully plotting them on graph paper…connecting the dots to reveal a picture.  If that’s your sort of thing too, check out Option 3 below.  Happy plotting!

How can you spend your Math Minutes this week?
  1. Learn the basics of coordinate geometry by watching this video (you have to scroll down the page a bit).  Read through the text underneath the video too.  Post a comment about something new you learned.  When leaving a comment, type your first name, grade level, and school (i.e. Trevor, 3, Sunset).  Do not type in your email address.
  2. This video gives a musical explanation of the inventor of coordinate plane geometry, Rene Descartes.
  3. Print out (or have your teacher print out) these worksheets.  Plot the ordered pairs on the graph paper and reveal a warm surprise!  Take a picture of your completed drawing and send it to the EY Coordinator at your building.
  4. Hopscotch is a free programming app that utilizes coordinates plane geometry.  The video link below explains some basics of Hopscotch and another way to spend your Math Minutes this week.  NOTE: Due to app updates, the Hopscotch video may not match perfectly with the up-to-date-version of the app.  After watching the video, create your initials/name in Hopscotch.  Take a picture of your completed program and send it to the EY Coordinator at your building.  We would love to post it on our Student Showcase Wiki!

Link to Hopscotch Video Tutorial:


#53: Cribbage


My family enjoys playing pitch,  31, sevens and trash.  However, my absolute FAVORITE game is cribbage!  It involves strategy and math, which is why I like it so much!

How can you spend your Math Minutes this week?
  1. Do you know how to play cribbage?  If so, leave a comment below with a “thing to remember” when playing cribbage.  When leaving a comment, type your first name, grade level, and school (i.e. Trevor, 3, Sunset).  Do not type in your email address.
  2. In cribbage, the Jokers are removed from the deck.
    • The Ace is worth 1
    • The face cards (Jack, Queen, and King) are each worth 10
    • The other cards (2 through 9) are each worth their number value
  3. Here are some of the ways you can earn points playing cribbage:

One of the ways to earn points in cribbage is to have cards that add up to fifteen.  In the picture below, the King and one of the 5’s make 15 so that is 2 points.  The King and the other 5 also make 15, which is another 2 points.  You might notice that there is a 5 that is face up on the deck.  This can also be paired with the King for 15 for another 2 points.  Finally, the three 5’s (2 in the hand and one on the deck) add up to 15.  This is an additional 2 points.IMG_8825When you have a pair of the same card, you earn 2 points.  The pair could be in your hand, or one of your cards could be paired with the card that is face up on the deck.  If you have 3-of-a-kind, that is worth 6 points.  In the picture above, there are two 5’s in the hand and one 5 face up on the deck.  Not only does that make 15, but it is also 3-of-a-kind which earns you 6 points.

A “flush” is when you have 4 or more of the same suit (clubs, spades, hearts, or diamonds).  If you had 4 hearts in your hand, you would earn 4 points.  If the card that is face up on the deck is also a heart, you would get 5 points.  The hand below shows 5 clubs so you would get 5 points.


A “run of 3” is when you have 3 cards in numerical order.  You could also have a run of 4 or 5 cards.  Let’s say you had a 3, 4, 5, and 6 in your hand.  You would have a “run of 4” which is 4 points.  If the card on the deck was a 2 or 7, you would have a run of 5.  The hand below shows a run of 5.


The pictures below show several cribbage hands.  See if you can add up the points correctly!  Leave a comment with the “hand #” and an explanation of the total points.  You can also post a question if you’re not sure.  Check back often to see if all the hands are correctly totaled.

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What is another way you can earn points in a cribbage game?  Do a little research and post a comment.  Would you be interested in having a cribbage tournament?

#49: Cool Jobs that Involve Math

Yep! That job requires math!

Tony DeRose is a 3D animator at Pixar and in his TED-Ed video,  he talks about how math plays an important role in his job.  Nafees Bin Zafar is also in the movie making business.  He is a visual effect expert who has helped create some of the most memorable smashes, crashes, and dashes on the movie screen.

How can you spend your Math Minutes this week?
  • Read Cool Jobs: Math as entertainment from Science News for Students.   You can also download a .pdf version of the article by clicking here.  Pick out one of the jobs mentioned in the article and leave a comment about how math is used in their job.  When posting a comment, use your first name, grade, and school (i.e. Tyler, 5, Sunset).  Do not publish your email.
  • Magician Arthur Benjamin mentions that his favorite number is 2,520 because it is the smallest, yes I said smallest, number divisible by all the numbers 1 through 10.  Prove this on a piece of paper by doing all the division problems and then take a picture of it.  Send the picture to the EY coordinator at your building or send it to your teacher and have him/her forward it to the EY coordinator.  BTW…Arthur Benjamin has a super cool TED Talk.  Watch it if you have time!
  • Describe the difference between a 2-D and 3-D printer.  What are some advantages of 3-D printing?  If you had your own 3-D printer, what are some things you would like to make?  If you’re really interested in 3D printing, here’s a link to another Science News for Students article on that topic.  Feel free to leave a comment about something new and interesting you learned!
Math is so much more than a bunch of problems on a worksheet or even a series of problems on a website or app.  Begin to imagine the creative ways in which mathematics plays a role in a variety of careers!