Wee Oui

For many American children, France means two things: fries and toast. This Saturday, curious kids ages 7 to 12 can expand their horizons by taking a four-hour field trip not across the Atlantic, but to Tempe's Hackett House. Here, the Tempe Sister City Organization presents the latest installment of "Passport to Understanding," an award-winning series of foreign-focused programs.A French teacher will discuss customs and language, and volunteers will lead craft projects. After learning about the stained-glass windows of French cathedrals, children will create their own version with melted crayons. Other activities include cooking and eating French food; playing boules, a French version of bowling; and making lavender soap.

Thrill Factor
There's no actual roller coaster in "Scream Machines," Arizona Science Center's newest exhibition, but visitors can expect to experience almost as much excitement as the real thing. What better way to learn about the physics of your favorite amusement park ride than to ride a bicycle upside down! in an 18-foot-high loop or take a virtual ride down five of the world's best coasters in a big-screen video room? This is science that makes you want to strap yourself in. The exhibition, open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., continues through May 4 at the center, 600 East Washington. To find out more, visit www.azscience.org or call 602-716-2000. Michele Laudig

The program runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, March 8, at Hackett House, 95 West Fourth Street in Tempe. The cost is $12 per child ($10 for additional siblings) and includes lunch. Prepaid reservations are required; call 480-350-8181. -- Jill Koch

Swing Set
D-Backs host kids' camps
Our recent chat with a baseball-loving toddler who cited Gonzo and Randy Johnson as his favorite Arizona Diamondbacks players gives us a good idea of how popular the game is with the milk-and-cookies crowd. So the Diamondbacks Training Centers' spring break baseball and softball camps should be a hit with Valley kids.Unfortunately for the littlest children, these five-day camps are geared to youth ages 7 to 14. But for those old enough to participate, they're guaranteed to get hands-on lessons, with instruction endorsed by the D-Backs' staff.

Camps start Monday, March 10, and will be held in Scottsdale and Chandler. Camps later in March will be held in Tempe, Deer Valley, Paradise Valley and Glendale. All camps are from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Registration, $150, includes a tee shirt, cap, backpack and two Diamondbacks home game tickets. Call 1-800-821-7152 to register. -- Michele Laudig

Dog Fright
Doo's the boss at the Dodge
Like so many celebrities who have conquered both television and cinema, he's taking to the stage. He's part Great Dane, part chicken, all superstar. He's Scooby-Doo, TV's original crime dog, and on Wednesday, March 12, he's coming to downtown's Dodge Theatre for an eight-show run.Taking the form of a long-lost episode, Scooby-Doo in "Stagefright" Live on Stage follows Scooby, Shaggy, Velma, Daphne and Fred onto the set of a monster movie, where "those meddling kids" unravel a ghostly mystery. For fans of the 34-year-old Scoobert (Zoinks! That's 238 in dog years!), missing this show is a Scooby-don't.

Scooby-Doo in "Stagefright" opens at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 12, at the Dodge, 400 West Washington, and continues through March 16. Tickets, $17 to $29, are available through Ticketmaster, 480-784-4444 or www.ticketmaster.com. For show details, see www.scoobydoolive.com. -- Jill Koch

Grammar Cool
Vocabulary geeks forever will cherish "Schoolhouse Rock" for showing the cartoon-watching world of the 1970s that correct syntax can be part of the rock 'n' roll lifestyle. Recall "Unpack Your Adjectives," "Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, Get Your Adverbs Here" and, of course, the beloved "Conjunction Junction." Ahh . . . never since has proper grammar been so captivating. Until now. Valley Youth Theatre is staging a live revival of the Saturday-morning series that taught history, math, science and politics with stick-in-your-head songs. Schoolhouse Rock Live! runs Friday, March 7, through March 23 at Valley Youth Theatre, 525 North First Street. Tickets are $12; call 602-253-8188, extension 2, to order. Jill Koch

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