Amy Pondolfino - Oneonta World of Learning

Enriching Life

Through Play

Drop into the Science Discovery Center next Saturday for Professor Snapes Potions Class, presented by Oneonta World of Learning (OWL) from 12:30 - 4pm! Or register online at for an Advanced Potions Class, lead by SUNY Oneonta faculty. The open activities are appropriate for children with their grownups, aged 2-13. There are two Advanced Potions workshops, one for age 5-9 at 1pm, and another for ages 10 and up at 2:30pm.


Sunday, 03 October 2010 19:45

Thanks to all who came to the Pit Run

Congratulations runners, walkers and all who volunteered to make the Pit Run a premier Oneonta event again this year. Oneonta World of Learning's bosun's chair was a big hit. Children were actually lined up to take a turn buckling into the seat and pulling on the ropes to lift themselves into the air and ring the bell at the top. Thanks to the power of pulleys, even little children were able to 'pull their own weight.'



Thursday, 30 September 2010 02:38

The Pit Run and OWL

Here's a sample of one of the activities Oneonta World of Learning (OWL) will be offering during the Pit Run, in Oneonta's Neahwa Park the morning of Sunday, Oct 3rd. It's a bosun's chair. A line through a series of pulleys allows a child to lift themselves off the ground effortlessly! Additional activities and crafts will explore the theme of healthy muscles and bones.



The details of this event are in our events pages.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010 01:24

Science Saturday and More in October

Join OWL for three fun filled activities this October!


OWL will present hands-on, interactive children's activities the morning of the Pit Run in Neahwa Park, Sunday October 3rd.

Then on Saturday October 16th, OWL will present Science Saturday: Professor Snape's Postions Class for children aged 2-13. SUNY faculty will feature Advanced Potions workshops as well: Be an alchemist for a day: watch as colors appear, disappear, and re-appear, create potions and take home your own glowing creation.

Then on Saturday October 30th, don your Harry Potter attire and join the fun at Hogwarts and Hartwick, a feast and fundraiser sponsored by the Hartwick Music Department and First United Methodist Church at 66 Chestnut, Oneonta.

Details about all of these events are located on our events page.


Wednesday, 22 September 2010 01:15

Science Saturday - Professor Snape's Potions Class

It's another Science Saturday!

OWL will be presenting "Professor Snape's Potions Class," featuring open hands-on chemistry activities for children with their grownups from 12:30 - 4:00pm on Saturday, October 16th at the Science Discovery Center. These activities will be geared toward children aged 2 - 13, and no registration is necessary for the open activities.

Additionally, SUNY faculty will be offering "Advanced Potions Class." Be an alchemist for a day: watch as colors appear, disappear, and re-appear, create potions and take home your own glowing creation. The first advanced workshop will be for ages 5-9 at 1:00pm. The second will be for ages 10 and up at 2:30 pm. Both classes will be about one hour long. Pre-registration through the Science Discovery Center is required for the advanced potions workshops. Call Hugh (607) 436-2011 or email


Oneonta World of Learning (OWL) is pleased to partner once again with The Science Discovery Center at SUNY Oneonta.

$5 recommended donation.
Tuesday, 21 September 2010 02:39

Hogwarts and Hartwick

Harry Potter in the Muggle World presents:

Hogwarts and Hartwick

For youth and the young at heart, Saturday October 30th, First United Methodist Church, 66 Chestnut St

Sorting Hat Seating begins at 4:00pm
Feast at 4:30pm

Dinner includes chicken tenders, drumsticks, veggies, dinner rolls, pumpkin bars with whipped cream, and apple cider or water.

Magical Music featured throughout, by Hartwick College Chamber Music Ensembles

Costume and door prizes!

Make your reservations now: $8 youth (16 and under), $10 (over 16), call Jeff at FUMC office 607-432-4102

Proceeds benefit Oneonta World of Learning (OWL)

Generously sponsored by Hartwick College and First United Methodist Church of Oneonta


Tuesday, 14 September 2010 02:32

Oil Spill Educational Activities

Children ask many questions in their attempt to understand their world.   Helping them to understand the world through words alone can be very difficult as the language of adults is often lost on children and their limited point of reference.   Hands on activities are very beneficial in helping children understand. The following activities are designed to help children understand how difficult it will be to clean up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Oil Spill:  What does that mean?


•    A pan, bucket, dishpan, bowl baking dish or similar container
•    Water
•    Cooking oil
•    Cocoa powder (optional)
•    Drinking straws
•    A feather
•    Assorted items to try to clean up the “oil spill” such as paper towels, cotton balls, grass, kitty litter, spoons, cornstarch, sand, etc.



Why do we need oil?

Oil is used to make fuel for our cars, trucks and airplanes, heat our homes, make plastic and even to make medicines.
Where does oil come from?

Oil was created from the remains of plants and animals that lived millions of years ago.  When these things died, they were covered by sand and dirt and over time they changed into what is called crude oil.  The oil is found underground.  Holes are drilled into the ground and pipes placed in the hole bring the oil to the surface to be collected.

What is an oil spill?

When oil is being collected, sometimes parts break and the oil leaks into the ground or water.  These leaks are called oil spills.  When oil is spilled in water, it rises to the surface of the water and quickly spreads out into a very thin layer called a slick.  
Try this:

Step 1:  Fill a pan, bucket, dishpan or bowl halfway with water.

Step 2:  Pour a small amount (2-3 tablespoons) of cooking oil into the water.  If you want your cooking oil to look more like crude oil, mix about 2 teaspoons of cocoa powder into the oil before pouring it into the water.

Step 3: 
Observe what happens to the oil and water.

How can we stop an oil slick from getting bigger?

Oil containment booms are long structures that float on top of the water are used to prevent oil slicks from spreading.  View photos of oil containment booms by following this link:

Try this:

Step 1:  Place a drinking straw in the water at the edge of the oil slick.  If you have a large container, you may want to hook several straws together by pinching the end of one straw and inserting it into the end of another.  What happens to the oil slick?

Step 2:  Gently tip the container to create waves.  Now what happens to the oil slick?

Why are oil spills a problem?

Spilled oil is very difficult to clean up and is very harmful to plants and animals.

Try this:

Step 1:  Think of some types of water birds, for example, ducks and seagulls.

Step 2:  Think about what feathers do for birds.  Feathers keep birds warm, make them waterproof and help them fly.

Step 3:  Take a feather (a craft feather works fine) and dip it into the oil spill.  What happens to the feather?  What would happen to a bird covered in oil?

Step 4:  Try washing the feather.  Does water clean the feather?  Does dish soap clean the feather?  What else could you use to try to clean the feather?

Step 5:  Imagine trying to wash a wild bird.

How can an oil spill be cleaned up?

Try this:

Step 1:  Select clean-up materials to test such as paper towels, cotton balls, grass, kitty litter, spoons, cornstarch and sand.

Step 2:  Try to clean up the oil with each of the test materials.  Does anything change?  How well does each material work?  How do you know how well it worked?                                                                                                      

How much oil spilled in the recent BP oil spill?

It is hard to know exactly how much oil spilled and there are many different guesses as to how much spilled.  What is certain is that that it is a lot.  To see what it would look like if the spill happened by your home, go to the link and enter your zip code.  How long would it take to drive from end to end of the spill?   How many times could you watch your favorite video in that amount of time?

Tuesday, 14 September 2010 02:02

Nature's Paintbrush

Description:  This painting activity trades the traditional paintbrush for things found in nature.

Age Range: 2 years - teens
Materials Needed: Paper, paint, things found in nature (pinecones, pebbles, pine branches, etc.)
Time: less than one hour, or it can be stretched into a lesson over several days

Begin this activity with a nature walk.  Your walk can be as simple as spending a few minutes in your backyard or you might take a longer walk around your neighborhood.  If you want to expand this project into a lesson over several days, you might want to plan a destination for your nature walk and pack a picnic.  

On your walk, look for things that you could use for a paintbrush.  This could include pine branches, pinecones, pebbles, seeds and seedpods, nutshells, grasses, and leaves.  If you are taking your walk on public lands, please make sure that you don’t disturb any protected species.  Don’t forget to take along a container for your treasures.

Now it is time to set up your painting area.  Protect your work area with newspaper, plastic tablecloths or old sheets.  Smocks and old paint clothes are recommended especially for younger children.  Plastic lids like those found on raisin, yogurt and sour cream containers make great paint palettes.

Dip your "paintbrushes" into the paint and start creating.  Experiment with different techniques.  Some of the "paintbrushes" lend themselves to making brushstrokes while others lend themselves to stamping.  You might try substituting a stamp pad for the paint.

Younger children will be done at this point.  For older children, once they have experimented with "paintbrushes," they may wish to create a representational picture using a variety of tools.  Expand the activity even farther by experimenting with making your own natural paints (

Julia thought her picture looked like animal tracks.

The "Rolling Pebble" Technique*

For this technique you will need several pebbles that are quite round and a shallow box.  

Place a sheet of paper in the bottom of the box.  Put three or four dime sized drops of paint on the paper.  Place a pebble in each drop of paint.   



Pick up the box and tip it from side to side.  The pebbles will roll through the paint and leave a trail as they move across the paper.
 The finished product:   

* Note:  The rolling pebble technique is a good choice for children with developmental delays.  It requires little technical skill and due to the abstract nature of the project, the result is successful every time.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010 10:55

Activities in October

October promises to be an exciting month for OWL! We've been invited once again to provide fun and interactive children's activities during the Pit Run, scheduled for Sunday October 3rd in Oneonta's Neahwa Park. Our theme will be the human musculoskeletal system.


Science Saturday also returns in October. On the 16th of October, Oneonta World of Learning (OWL) will once again team up with the Science Discovery Center on the SUNY Oneonta campus, this time presenting chemistry with 'Professor Snape's potions class.' The Science Discovery Center will be open throughout the presentation and OWL will be offering open ended learning activities for children aged two and up, with their grown ups! The SUNY Oneonta science faculty will also be offering workshops for older children. Stay tuned for details on these workshops and how to register.


There is an exciting fundraiser in the works for October: Hogwarts and Hartwick is a fanciful, sit down dinner with Hartwick faculty dressed as Hogwarts staff. More details will be posted here, as the event nears.

Mark your calendars in November for Paintfest 2010 - Now in 3D! Paintfest will be on Saturday November 13th. This event features washable fun for the whole family, through inventive painting activities at multiple paint stations. Workshops with area professionals will also be offered. See last year's paintfest pictures on Flickr.

If you haven't already signed up for our e-newsletter, check out the first edition here.

Saturday, 14 August 2010 13:59

Upcoming fun

Oneonta World of Learning (OWL) representatives will available be at Goodyear Lake Day on the morning of Saturday, August 21st. This all day event is sponsored by The Goodyear Lake Association, Inc. and The Polar Bear Jump, and takes place at Krol Field, with parking on Lakeshore Drive So, Maryland, NY. The morning will feature crafts, food, games and exhibits, followed by historical presentations and cloggers in the afternoon. The Country Express, a country and western band, will perform at 2pm. The evening will bring chicken BBQ, a boat parade, and lastly, fireworks. Visit for details.

Don't miss Science Saturday, on October 16th at The Science Discovery Center at SUNY Oneonta. The theme will be Professor Snape's Potions. Details will be posted here as the details of this fun event become finalized.


Then mark your calendars for Paintfest - Now In 3D! Paintfest will be on Saturday, November 13th, and will feature open painting/playful painting activities as well as art workshops with area professionals. Details on workshop registration and all the fun will be posted here, as soon as they become available. Set aside your old wooden chairs and small wooden tables to donate for this event! Call 607-431-8543 to donate.

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