Up All Night 

Scientific pajama party

FRI 2/28

The Poker Flat Research Range in Alaska, about thirty miles north of Fairbanks, is one of the best places on earth to witness the full splendor of the aurora borealis, that surreal glow of rainbow hues only visible in optimal conditions. Budding scientists (recommended age nine to twelve) get the rare chance to stay up all night Friday night at the Chabot Space and Science Center (10000 Skyline Blvd. in Oakland), where they'll arrive at 10 p.m., watch a special Megadome film, Solarmax, about the sun, try out some aurora-related activities, enjoy a midnight snack, and, at the wee hour of 2 a.m., watch and participate in a live interactive broadcast from the Poker Flat Research Range and ask the Alaskan scientists questions by telephone about what they're seeing on the screen. Why at 2 a.m.? Apparently that's the most promising time to experience the aurora phenomenon.Depending on the weather, the scientists might launch a rocket that will conduct experiments in the aurora. All night at Chabot, a film crew will be shooting footage of the kids to incorporate into a NASA documentary called Live from the Aurora, which will also track three other sites linked to the Research Range in Atlanta, in Fairbanks, and in Maryland. Local scientists will also be on hand. Kids and parents return home about 4 a.m. -- and hopefully sleep in the next morning. Register beforehand by calling Chabot's education department at 510-336-7319. --Sarah Cahill

WED 2/26

Tree Story

If there's anything television has taught us, it's that history doesn't have to be boring. Remember Schoolhouse Rock? Well, your own kids can get some catchy songs and images stuck in their heads forever by wrapping up Black History Month with East Bay singer, dancer, and storyteller Yolanda Rhodes at the Oakland Public Library. Ms. Rhodes performs two versions of "Under the Nkula Tree," a musical journey that follows its characters from precolonial Africa to the slave plantations of America. Wednesday's performance, at 10 a.m. at the Eastmont Library (7200 Bancroft Ave., Ste. 211, 510-615-5726), is suitable for all ages, while Thursday's show, 1 p.m. at the West Oakland branch (1801 Adeline St., 510-238-7352), is designed with kids eight and up (including teens) in mind. -- Stefanie Kalem


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