The Tale of the Mandarin Ducks, a powerful Japanese folktale turned children's play, begins when a cruel lord captures a Mandarin duck because he covets his exquisite plumage. When a kitchen servant sees that the enforced captivity is destroying the bird's beauty, she frees him, causing the evil lord to sentence her and her lover to death. But the grateful duck has a better ending in mind for his savior and for the capricious lord. Katherine Paterson's award-winning tale of greed, cruelty and kindness is adapted for the stage in a brilliant fashion, with music and lyrics by Steve Liebman. The Tale of the Mandarin Ducks is performed by Mesa Youtheatre at the Mesa Arts Center, 155 North Center in Mesa, at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Performances continue through May 11, with matinees on Saturdays at 4:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $9 for adults and $7 for children. For information, call 480-644-2902. For tickets, call 480-644-2560. The play is appropriate for ages 3 and up.-Quetta Carpenter
Scientific and sweet
Like so many subjects, science gets significantly more interesting when sugar and speed enter the equation. This week, the Satellite Science workshop series sweetens the matter with a new session on catapults. Participants will explore the variables of tension, force and weight as they design and build mini machines. The ammo? Marshmallows. Now that's a scientific method we can get into.
The one-hour workshops launch at 4 p.m. Wednesday, May 7, at the Juniper Branch Library, 1825 West Union Hills (602-262-4636), and the Saguaro Branch Library, 2808 North 46th Street (602-262-4636). See www.satellitescience.org for further details. - Jill Koch
The Wetter, the Better
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A splish, splash of a time
Every self-respecting kid knows it's his or her duty to avoid activities that can be construed as educational, especially during the school-free zone of summer. Everyone has a weakness, however, and for children, water is often the kryptonite of choice. Mix in a chance to splash around a bit, and learning becomes a much easier pill to swallow.
Such is the beauty of the new Splash Playground at Tempe Beach Park. Raining clouds, mini canals, water slides and waterfalls are pathways to an educational element that teaches kids lessons, such as how a single drop of rain ends up in the ocean or in a city's water supply.
Tempe Beach Park is located at Mill Avenue and Rio Salado Parkway in Tempe. The Splash Playground is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily; admission is free. For details call 480-350-8625. - Craig Wallach