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Family Fun 

Kids might complain that school is boring. Why not use a summer day to show them science can be fun? Opportunities abound within and around Charlotte for entertaining, educational day trips. Best part: It might wear the tykes out by bedtime.

9am: Want to teach the kids a little something about the food pyramid and have a healthy breakfast, too? Take them to Just Fresh for a wholesome breakfast that still tastes good — things like yogurt with granola and fruit, orange juice and fresh muffins. Hopefully, they'll learn that a natural sugar rush from fruit can give just as good a high as the saccharine SpongeBob SquarePants cereal they wolf down during Saturday morning cartoons.

10am: Discovery Place presents a summer exhibit that's bound to keep kids entertained. Kicking off May 28 and running through September 9, the children's museum will be officially disgusting as it hosts Grossology, an exhibit exploring the science of all your bodily functions. Did you know that more than 100,000,000 microscopic critters live in a human mouth? Well, after scoping out Grossology, you'll learn a lot more about what goes on in all your orifices, presented in interactive stations and by theme park-like characters. Good luck trying to get Junior to stop picking his nose after he sees how cool boogers are. And if you don't want to wait until May 28 for this gross-out show, you can always take the brood right now to check out Discovery Place's other, more palatable attractions.

12:30pm: Get back to nature with a picnic at Latta Plantation Nature Preserve. It's 1,290 acres of flora and fauna goodness, with activities ranging from fishing (a one-day pass is $1), canoeing and kayaking to horseback riding and meeting live animals. The Backyard Habitat Garden includes a lot more to explore than what's in most backyards, with bird feeding stations, butterfly gardens, a pond and a demonstration compost area. Of course, you can also just look for the ants marching to your picnic basket to get an up-close and personal interaction with bugs.

2:30pm: Also at Latta Plantation Nature Preserve is the Carolina Raptor Center, an education and rehabilitation facility dedicated to the conservation of birds of prey. The talons and beaks are sharp, but kids are guaranteed to be fascinated by these winged hunters. You're not going to see any parrots looking embarrassed to be riding a bicycle across a tightrope here — the birds here are wild and majestic, they're not here to entertain. The folks and fowl at the Raptor Center are on a mission to teach the community about birds of prey, and put on a pretty cool exhibit while doing so.

5pm: Kids still awake? Stop by the Main Library and check out a few books about food, snot, bugs or birds so the whole family can read more about what you explored today.

Just The Facts:

JUST FRESH - multiple locations,
DISCOVERY PLACE - 301 North Tryon Street, 704-372-6261,
LATTA PLANTATION NATURE PRESERVE - 6211 Sample Road, Huntersville, 704-875-1391; (click the "Nature Centers" link).
CAROLINA RAPTOR CENTER - 6000 Sample Road, Huntersville, 704-875-6521,
PUBLIC LIBRARY OF CHARLOTTE & MECKLENBURG COUNTY (Main Branch) - 310 North Tryon Street, 704- 336-2725,

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