Welcome to Study Hall! The Internet can be a great resource as long as you know how to use it. Here you will find tips for effective web research to help you get the most out of the Internet.


Cyber Defender & Databank Supervisor

Because of her unquenchable thirst for knowledge, Maya started out as a librarian. While she loved her job, she wanted to do more to help protect people.

Since Cyber Villains such as Ms. Information and Elvirus can corrupt websites and the information on them, Maya teaches people to protect themselves by using caution when visiting websites and avoiding sites that are not trustworthy.

Favorite Quote:

Give me a fish and I eat for a day. Teach me to fish and I eat for a lifetime
- Chinese Proverb

Favorite Food:

Anything chocolate


Browsing bookstores, baking

August 4 2008

Summer Reading: Week 9

How is your summer reading coming along? If you haven't registered yet, please do so at the Carnegie Library's site so you can track all of your progress this summer.

Last week I discovered something amazing while doing some Web research. Scientists have actually made a “living computer” by developing a way to use bacteria to make computations just like a computer does. Instead of computer bugs, they are creating bug computers!

Scientists have genetically engineered E. Coli bacteria to use their DNA to solve a classic mathematical puzzle, known as the burnt pancake problem. DNA molecules have an amazing ability to store and process massive amounts of information. Consider that all the information you need to create an entire human being is contained with just one single strand of DNA. Scientists have tapped into this ability to store and process information by genetically altering the bacteria’s DNA to solve the puzzle. You can read a few news stories about it at Gizmag, NPR, and e! Science News.

The future of computers is looking more and more exciting. With this amazing new development, we could soon see super-fast computers that take up almost no space at all, or even computers that can learn and evolve. What do you think is in store?

This is the last week of the summer reading program, and to celebrate we have a brand new mini-game in the Fun Stuff section, Catch the Computer Bugs. Test your skills at catching computer bugs, and don’t forget to log the time you spend reading Web sites this week!

posted by Maya
topic: Summer Reading

July 28 2008

Summer Reading: Week 8

How is your summer reading coming along? If you haven't registered yet, please do so at the Carnegie Library's site so you can track all of your progress this summer.

Last week I found a charming short story on the Internet, A Feast for the Computer Bugs written and translated from Swiss to English by Emil Zopfi. In the story, the bugs out in a meadow are becoming sick from a nearby insecticide factory. They hold a meeting and convince the Bee to go investigate the factory, because she can travel farther than the other bugs.

The Bee manages to get inside the computer that runs the factory, where she meets the "computer bugs." Curious about her talk of meadows and flowers, the computer bugs free themselves from the computer and escape to the meadow, shutting down the factory and saving all the meadow bugs.

In this story, the "computer bugs" were not really computer bugs, but actually electronic components that just look like bugs. If you've ever looked at a circuit board from a computer, you can see it has many little metal and plastic bits attached to the board that make the computer function. These can include transistors (like in the story), resistors, microchips, operational amplifiers, diodes, microprocessors, and many other components, some of which look a lot like bugs with lots of legs.

You can learn more about how circuits work and how personal computers work on the How Stuff Works Web site. Don't forget to log how much time you spend reading!

posted by Maya
topic: Summer Reading

July 21 2008

Summer Reading: Week 7

How is your summer reading coming along? If you haven't registered yet, please do so at the Carnegie Library's site so you can track all of your progress this summer.

Computer bugs are a daily concern for all software programmers and can turn up in any software program. Bugs can be caused by something as simple as a typo, or by many complicated procedures running at the same time, or can even be intentionally caused by hackers and cyber criminals. I'm sure you've even come across a few, they can be quite common even in "finished" software because it's very difficult to test absolutely all the possibilities. The more complex the software, the harder it is to hunt down all the bugs, and many companies just don't have the time or resources to fix them all.

Intrigued by what I read about the 10 worst computer bugs in history during the first week of Summer Reading, I decided to find out what made them so bad. I was surprised that several of them were not in the kind of software that you'd buy at the store, but in major systems that relied on custom software programs to keep them running smoothly. Systems like the trans-Siberian gas pipeline and the AT&T telephone network have come to a grinding halt because of something as simple as a computer bug! Some bugs cost companies millions of dollars and were very embarrassing, like the Mariner 1 space probe. But I think the worst ones are the ones that put people's safety and lives at risk.

Many companies now include ways for people to report back to them about bugs they have found and release "patches" for their software that fix bugs discovered after the product was released. You can read Dr. Keen's Cyber Defense Tip: Patch your vulnerabilities to learn more.

At this site you can vote for which bug you think is the worst one, and don't forget to log how much time you spend reading about computer bugs, even on this site!

posted by Maya
topic: Summer Reading

July 14 2008

Summer Reading: Week 6

How is your summer reading coming along? If you haven't registered yet, please do so at the Carnegie Library's site so you can track all of your progress this summer.

Last week I decided to try out one of the many Web sites where you can read books for free. I chose the classic 1915 story The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, from the site Planet eBook, because I knew that it was about a bug but I had never actually read it.

It's a very strange tale of a hard-working young man who awakens one day to discover he has turned into a giant bug. Without knowing why he has changed or if he will ever change back, he and his family have to learn to adapt and move forward with their lives. I thought it was a rather sad story and it really made me think about how people treat one another.

I love reading classic novels because many of them have very rich stories and they open a window into another time period. There's also a good chance that they are a classic because they are so wonderful that everyone enjoys reading them. Then again, sometimes they aren't, but I like to give them a chance and decide for myself rather than just listening to other people's opinions.

There are many great sites that let you read books for free, and not just the classics. Why don't you try and find some? Don't forget to log the time you spend reading online books too!

posted by Maya
topic: Summer Reading

July 7 2008

Summer Reading: Week 5

How is your summer reading coming along? If you haven't registered yet, please do so at the Carnegie Library's site so you can track all of your progress this summer. We're about halfway though the summer so hurry up and join!

Last week I did a little research on the famous millennium bug, or the Y2K bug. Did you ever hear about that one? It was the year before Commander Omni took over the Academy, and I was still working as a librarian. I remember everyone making such a fuss over what turned out to be nothing. People even wrote entire books about it!

The fear arose because many computer programs stored the year date as two digits instead of four (like 99 instead 1999). People thought that on January 1st at midnight, when all the computers' dates rolled over for the year 2000, that computer programs across the globe would have major issues since the new year would be 00 and the software would confuse it with 1900. People were afraid that everything, from banks to subways to electrical companies, would just stop functioning and the world as we know it would end.

Fortunately, this was a problem that was foreseen well before January 1st and most governments and businesses had prepared contingency plans and back-up systems to prevent any major catastrophes. Some places did experience minor problems, but most were fixed right away and the world certainly did not end. In fact, the backup systems and preparations made for Y2K have been very useful during several major events that have happened since 2000. It just goes to show you that an ounce of preparation is worth a pound of cure!

You can read more about it on this site. Don't forget to keep track of the time you spend reading the Web sites!

posted by Maya
topic: Summer Reading

June 30 2008

Summer Reading: Week 4

How is your summer reading coming along? If you haven’t registered yet, please do so at the Carnegie Library's site so you can track all of your progress this summer.

Last week I read The Computer Bug by Stephen Tucker. This story is about Annie, a spider living in a city park who's fate is controlled by a computer program. Something wicked has been threatening the park inhabitants and the computer's analysis program is their only hope. However something is also threatening the computer program, it is under attack by computer bugs!

Annie is swept up into adventure when she finds herself face-to-face with the computer analyzing her park home. Since she is hungry, the computer invites her inside to help take care of its bug problem. Annie meets many of the computer world's inhabitants and is joined on her quest by Bit and Byte, two very willing but often bumbling sidekicks. While Annie is powerless against the monstrous evil destroying her park, with her courage, her spider smarts, and the help of her new friends she can ultimately save both the inhabitants of the computer world and her home.

This book is beautifully illustrated and is a wonderful introduction to the inside workings of computers. Computers are not really "smart," their abilities are actually very limited. They have to be told exactly how to do something and they only understand what they are programmed to do, just like how the computer world's data have a hard time understanding Annie because of their limited knowledge.

This book also shows you not only how something very small, like a computer bug, can cause major problems, but also how someone very small and seemingly insignificant, like Annie, can really save the day! I think Annie would have made a fantastic Cyber Defender.

posted by Maya
topic: Summer Reading

June 23 2008

Summer Reading: Week 3

How is your summer reading coming along? If you haven’t registered yet, please do so at the Carnegie Library's site so you can track all of your progress this summer.

This past week I had a little fun researching computer "bugs" to go along with this year's summer reading theme, Catch the Summer Reading Bug. Do you know the story of the very first computer "bug"? Or where the term "debugging" a program comes from? Debugging is a term programmers use when they are looking through their code for pieces that aren't working correctly, usually referred to as "bugs". However, the first computer bug wasn't a bit of malfunctioning code at all.

The very first computers were big bulky calculating machines that were nowhere near as sophisticated as today's computers or even today's pocket calculators. In 1947, one of these calculating machines began experiencing problems. When they opened it up to take a look, they found a moth trapped in the machine! After removing the moth, or "debugging" the machine, everything worked smoothly again, and the term was born.

You can read all about it on this site and maybe even do some more of your own web research about computer "bugs". Don't forget to record the time you spend reading Web sites!

posted by Maya
topic: Summer Reading

June 20 2008

My Summer Reading List

After I wrote the tracking program that hasn’t been much left for me to do but check it occasionally. I’ve dug though my personal library to find books I want to read this summer.

Jane Eyre has been a long time favorite of mine. And I like to read Moby Dick in the summer. Tales of whales and the sea. It is unexpectedly funny if you know how to look at it.

posted by Maya
topic: Miscellaneous, Summer Reading

June 16 2008

Summer Reading: Week 2

How is your summer reading coming along? If you haven’t registered yet, please do so at the Carnegie Library's site so you can track all of your progress this summer.

Last week I read Secret Identity by Wendelin Van Draanen. This is the story of Nolan, a nerdy kid who loves math. Life is tough for Nolan at school, he and his classmates get picked on a lot by Bubba, the class bully. Nolan decides that it would take a superhero to stop Bubba, so he creates an online secret identity, Shredderman. He launches Shredderman.com as a place to post embarrassing photos of Bubba and evidence of his bullying to get back at him.

While I thought this book was fun to read, it also made me think. Nolan created his Web site to get back at Bubba, but really what Nolan was doing was becoming a bully himself, a cyber bully. Also, by posting pictures of Bubba on the site, he was putting Bubba in a lot of danger by exposing his personal information. That's even worse than bullying someone at school! Even if someone is a rude and mean bully, there’s no excuse for putting them in danger. It would have been better if Nolan had talked to a trusted adult about how to deal with Bubba instead.

There are 4 books in the Shredderman series. I encourage you to read them all and enjoy them, but to also really think about what the characters are doing. How would you react in the same situation? Knowing what you do about Cyber Defense and cyber bullying, what would you have done about Bubba the bully?

posted by Maya
topic: Summer Reading

June 9 2008

Summer Reading: Week 1

The academic year is coming to an end and soon we'll have weeks of long summer days stretching ahead of us. To keep from getting too bored over the break, I encourage you to join our Summer Reading program. This summer the Academy will be working with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, and this is the first official week of the program so be sure to visit the Carnegie Library's site to register as soon as you can.

The theme of this year's summer reading program is Catch the Reading Bug, so our reading list features a lot of books about bugs. You can view the book list here, but don't forget that magazines and web sites count as reading too! Since this is the Carnegie Cyber Academy, I'll challenge you to look beyond these books for anything about "computer bugs" as well.

Do you know what the 10 worst computer bugs in history were? Learn all about them here, then record the time you spent reading the web page at the Summer Reading web site!

posted by Maya
topic: Summer Reading

June 9 2008

Summer Reading Suggested Books

Picture Books for Young Readers:

  • The Very Clumsy Click Beetle (Eric Carle) - A clumsy young click beetle learns to land on its feet with encouragement from various animals and a wise old beetle. Clicking sounds accompany the story.
  • Diary of a Fly (Doreen Cronin) - A young fly discovers, day by day, that there is a lot to learn about being an insect, including the dangers of flypaper and the knowledge that heroes come in all shapes and sizes.
  • Oddhopper Opera: A Bug's Garden of Verses (Kurt Cyrus) - A collection of poems about the activities of a variety of different bugs which flourish in a garden from early spring to late fall.
  • Waiting for Wings (Lois Ehlert) - With rhyming text and colorful collages, questions about the life cycle of the butterfly are answered.
  • Beetle Bop (Denise Fleming) - Colorful, energetic illustrations and rhyming text reveal the great variety of beetles and their swirling, humming, crashing activities.
  • Arabella Miller's Tiny Caterpillar (Clare Jarrett) - Arabella Miller finds a caterpillar. She takes him home and feeds him lots and lots of leaves. Soon he hides inside his chrysalis. Arabella misses her friend, but when he emerges he has turned into a beautiful creature.
  • Velma Gratch & the Way Cool Butterfly (Alan Madison) - When Velma starts first grade and wants to become as well known as her older sisters, her interest in butterflies helps her achieve that goal.
  • Thelonius Monster's Sky-High Fly Pie: A Revolting Rhyme (Judy Sierra) - Thelonius Monster goes the through trials and tribulations of making a "sky-high fly pie" for his friends. This book has great vocabulary words that are emphasized in a larger font. The pictures have a simple color scheme with white, black and green.
  • Gotta Go! Gotta Go! (Sam Swope)- Although she does not know why or how, a small creepy-crawly bug is certain that she must make her way to Mexico.

Picture Books for Older Readers:

  • Butterfly House (Eve Bunting)- With the help of her grandfather, a little girl makes a house for a larva and watches it develop before setting it free; every summer after that butterflies come to visit her.
  • Crickwing (Janell Cannon)- A lonely cockroach named Crickwing has a creative idea that saves the day for the leaf-cutter ants when their fierce forest enemies attack them.
  • Martina, the Beautiful Cockroach: A Cuban Folktale (Carmen Agra Deedy) - In this humorous retelling of a Cuban folktale, a cockroach interviews her suitors in order to decide whom to marry.
  • Big Bug Surprise (Julia Gran) - Prunella knows so much about insects that people get bored listening to her talk, but when her classroom fills up with bees during show-and-tell, Prunella saves the day.
  • Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock (Eric A. Kimmel) - Anansi the spider uses a magical rock to trick the Lion, Elephant, Giraffe, and Zebra. Little Deer is not easily fooled, however, and he teaches Anansi a lesson.
  • Two Bad Ants (Chris an Allsburg) - Go on an adventure with two ants that decide to "get out of line" to explore the human world. After their adventure, the ants must make a decision to either return to the ant hole or live with the human.
  • Imani's Music (Sheron Williams) - Imani is a grasshopper blessed with the gift of music. He plays his music for the people of Africa even after he is swept onto a slave ship to give his people hope.

Early Reader & First Chapter Books:

  • Super Fly Guy (Tedd Arnold) - There's definitely a "buzz" in the school lunchroom. It's Fly Guy, Buzz's pet fly. Don't miss Fly Guy's adventures with Roz, the lunch lady, in the school cafeteria.
  • In the Garden (J. C. Greenburg) - Andrew, his cousin Judy, and Thudd the robot, having been shrunk by a shrinking machine, encounter many terrifying creatures, including Mrs. Scuttle, as they try to reach the Atom Sucker before it explodes.
  • In the Kitchen (J. C. Greenburg) - After being shrunk by a shrinking machine, Alexander, his cousin Judy, and Thudd the robot encounter drain flies, a cockroach, and worse as they work their way through Mrs. Scuttle's house toward safety.
  • Breakout at the Bug Lab (Ruth Horowitz) - When a giant cockroach named Max escapes from their mother's bug laboratory, Leo and his brother receive help from a mysterious stranger who advises them to think like a bug in order to recapture the runaway roach.

Children's Fiction:

  • The End of the Beginning: Begin the Adventures of a Small Snail (and even Smaller Ant) (Avi) - Avon the snail and Edward, a take-charge ant, set off together on a journey to an undetermined destination in search of unspecified adventures.
  • Gregor the Overlander (Suzanne Collins) - When eleven-year-old Gregor and his two-year-old sister are pulled into a strange underground world, they trigger an epic battle involving men, bats, rats, cockroaches, and spiders while on a quest foretold by ancient prophecy.
  • James and the Giant Peach (Roald Dahl) - A young boy escapes from two wicked aunts and embarks on a series of adventures with six enormous insects he meets inside a giant peach.
  • The Field Guide (Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black) - When the Grace children go to stay at their Great Aunt Lucinda's worn Victorian house, they discover a field guide to fairies and other creatures and begin to have some unusual experiences.
  • Phineas L. MacGuire Gets Slimed (Frances O'Roark Dowell) - When his new best friend, Ben, decides to run for class president, fourth-grade science whiz Phineas MacGuire reluctantly agrees to be his campaign manager in exchange for help with his latest experiment--cultivating exhibits for a mold museum.
  • How to Eat Fried Worms (Thomas Rockwell) - Two boys set out to prove that worms can make a delicious meal.
  • The Cricket in Times Square (George Selden) - The adventures of a country cricket who unintentionally arrives in New York and is befriended by Tucker Mouse and Harry Cat.
  • Charlotte's Web (E. B. White) - Wilbur, the pig, is desolate when he discovers that he is destined to be the farmer's Christmas dinner until his spider friend, Charlotte, decides to help him.


  • Buzz (Caroline Bingham) - This book not only teaches the basics about insects and other invertebrates, but brings the amazing world of worms, beetles, snails, millipedes, and spiders into our everyday lives.
  • When Bugs were Big, Plants were Strange, and Tetrapods Stalked the Earth: A Cartoon Prehistory of Life before Dinosaurs (Hannah Bonner) - Take a tour of the Earth three hundred and twenty million years ago, during the Paleozoic Era, and investigate the plants and animals found there.
  • Dirty Rotten Bugs (Gilles Bonotaux) - Insects, arachnids, centipedes, and millipedes speak out against their reputation as dirty rotten bugs and explain why they deserve respect from humans.
  • Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices (Paul Fleischman) - A collection of poems intended to be read aloud describe the characteristics and activities of a variety of insects in an amusing way.
  • Monarch and Milkweed (Helen Frost and Leonid Gore) - Every spring the monarch butterfly migrates thousands of miles in search of the ideal milkweed plant.
  • Look Closer: An Introduction to Bug-watching (Gay W. Holland) - Holland describes a variety of insects and how they can be observed in a garden, in open fields, in the woods, in water, and elsewhere.
  • What Do You Do When Something Wants to Eat You? (Steve Jenkins) - Jenkins uses words and pictures to describe how various animals, including an octopus, a bombadier beetle, a puff adder, and a gliding frog, escape danger.
  • The Tarantula Scientist (Sy Montgomery) - Samuel Marshall and his students are doing some fascinating research on tarantulas, including the largest spider on earth, the Goliath birdeating tarantula.
  • Song of the Water Boatman & Other Pond Poems (Joyce Sidman) - A collection of poems that provide a look at some of the animals, insects, and plants that are found in ponds, with accompanying information about each.
  • About Arachnids: A Guide for Children (Cathryn Sill) - An introduction to the physical characteristics, behavior, and life cycle of arachnids.
  • The Jumbo Book of Outdoor Art (Irene Luxbacher) - Discover the inspiration and materials for 57 projects in the great outdoors.

posted by Maya
topic: Summer Reading