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Students will compete in the 14th annual Cornell Concerto Competition, Dec. 10 in Barnes Hall.

Things to Do, Dec. 8-15, 2017

Powder science

Families will explore how powders react, and try to figure out which powders are in an unknown mixture, at the next Families Learning Science Together program at Tompkins County Public Library, Dec. 9 from 1 to 2 p.m. in the BorgWarner Community Room.

The “Unknown Powders” activity features observations of powder reactions when a chemical indicator is added, such as vinegar, a baking soda solution, iodine or a pH indicator solution.

Families Learning Science Together is a hands-on science program aimed at children ages 5-13 and their parents or caregivers. It is cosponsored by the library and led by the Cornell Center for Materials Research. The program is free and open to the public, but space is limited. To reserve a spot, email with the name and age of children attending, or call 607-592-4053. Drop-ins are welcome as space allows.

Offered at the library the second Saturday of each month, workshops are designed to help children develop an early love of science. Cornell faculty, postdoctoral researchers, graduate and undergraduate students present science modules on a variety of materials-science topics, encouraging children and their parents to explore how materials interact with each other.

Concerto competition

The finals of the 14th annual Cornell Concerto Competition will be open to the public Sunday, Dec. 10, at 8 p.m. in Barnes Hall Auditorium. Admission is free.

Presented by the Department of Music, the competition features eight students entered in the first round, being held earlier the same day. They will perform concerto selections with the competition’s official accompanist, pianist Ryan McCullough, a doctoral candidate in contemporary performance practice.

A panel of judges will choose three to five finalists and announce a winner at the end of the final round. The winning student will perform with the Cornell Symphony Orchestra in a concert March 11, 2018, in Bailey Hall.

The annual competition is open to all student musicians at Cornell. Cellist Irene Jeong ’19, a physics major, was the winner of the 2016 contest, performing Dmitri Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major accompanied by faculty pianist Miri Yampolsky.

Stealing Santa Claus

Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King, becomes intrigued with Christmas and persuades the inhabitants of Halloweentown to kidnap Santa and take over the December holiday, in Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” coming to the big screen in Willard Straight Theatre, Dec. 9 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $5 general, $4 for kids age 12 and under.

Part of the IthaKid Film Fest at Cornell Cinema and cosponsored with the Ithaca Youth Bureau, the 1993 film is recommended for ages 6 and up.

Using stop-motion animation, Burton and a team of 120 animators worked for more than two years, with one minute of film taking a week to shoot. They created a modern holiday classic, featuring a score by Oingo Boingo’s Danny Elfman, who also is the voice of Jack.

Soft robotics

Rob Shepherd, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, will share work on designing soft robotic prosthetics in “Next Gen Cyborgs: Soft Robots With a Sense of Touch,” Dec. 13 from 7 to 9 p.m. at Casita Del Polaris, behind Northstar House at 1201 N. Tioga St., Ithaca.

Shepherd will illustrate how his group is designing bio-inspired prosthetics with a human-robot interface, enabling feedback and control to allow for natural motion and function.

His presentation is part of the Science on Tap series organized by the Ithaca chapter of Graduate Women in Science. Free and open to the public, the series aims to make science exciting and accessible to everyone, bringing scholars from Cornell into the community to present their research on a diverse range of scientific topics in an authentic, engaging and understandable way.

Media Contact

Lindsey Hadlock