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Inside the pitch-black Touch Tunnel, you're completely blind. On your hands and knees, you crawl forward, relying solely on your other senses to lead you through the darkness. The tunnel is only 80 feet long, but the exit might as well be miles away. After finally emerging safe (and sighted) from the most popular exhibit at Liberty Science Center, a family could still spend four more hours at the many hands-on attractions and experiences designed to enlighten visitors about the power and fun of science.

All told, Liberty Science Center houses a dozen galleries for interactive exploration. Visitors can perform surgery on a 3D robotic simulator; tip-toe across a steel girder hovering 18 feet in the air; or even connect with more than 90 different animals, including giant fish and a family of tamarin monkeys. At I Explore, young scientists ages 2–5 learn about the world around them while launching colorful balls into the air or using a xylophone made of stone slabs. When it's time to relax, the whole family can visit the largest IMAX dome theater in the U.S., which transports onlookers from outer space to the deepest depths of the oceans and just about everywhere in between.

222 Jersey City Blvd.
Jersey City,
NJ
US

Committing to program participants from middle school until high-school graduation, Breakthrough New York tutors public-school students in after-school and summer enrichment programs, training them for the academic challenges presented by such exclusive colleges as Harvard, Brown, and Wesleyan. During the course of the 2011 Building Readers summer session, students will complete eight at-home reading assignments, including A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, and Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. After finishing the program, students will be able add the books to their personal libraries to peruse and enjoy again. This extracurricular foray into literary criticism inspires greater thoughtfulness and intellectual curiosity in students, and can lead to further pursuit of knowledge.

55 Exchange Pl
New York,
NY
US

Raised in France by German-Egyptian parents who spoke English at home, Maurice Hazan was destined for a life in linguistics. The author of 80 books in 10 languages, the polyglot began leading French classes in the U.S. 20 years ago, where he first developed what would become his intuitive QTalk method. Whereas some techniques prepare students to pass an exam, and then the stuents immediately forget their lessons, Hazan's picture-based programs etch vocabulary into long-term memory by minimizing written English and making students cover their dictionary tattoos. His classes emphasize speaking in complete, grammatically accurate sentences from day one.

Adults and children can join level-appropriate programs, which Hazan is constantly improving by developing new games and study devices in the school's basement workshop. The classes that aren't led by Hazan himself are conducted by a staff of native Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, and other language speakers, all of whom he's trained himself.

22 Harrison St
New York,
NY
US

Only about 10 percent of the students in the iMentor program have parents who have attended college, so the mentors can provide crucial advice and one-on-one guidance that may otherwise be unavailable to students. Since 1999, iMentor has worked with more than 7,000 students, and in the next year, the program aims to connect 3,000 more students with mentors. iMentor plans to host Kickoff to College events for college juniors who are beginning the complicated process of college applications. The events will mark the beginning of college planning for the school year, and encourage students to explore scholarship and financial-aid opportunities as well as discuss academic and career goals with their mentors.

30 Broad St
New York,
NY
US

Healthy Huntsville was recently founded as part of a collaboration between the city government and local businesses that aims to foster healthier behavior in the community. It teaches Huntsville residents how to maintain good fitness levels and eating habits and raises awareness about these issues among young and low-income community members. To achieve its goal of improving health in the region, Healthy Huntsville runs more than 100 free events for residents including Alabama's largest yoga class, TED video screenings, and cook-offs that promote healthful food.

100 Church St
New York,
NY
US

GLSEN's Safe Space Campaign aims to supply every middle and high school in the country with a Safe Space Kit— an informative packet that provides helpful strategies for supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender students, educating the student body about anti-LGBT bias, and suggestions for in-school advocacy initiatives. The kits also contain Safe Space stickers and posters that enable faculty members to clearly identify themselves as supportive educators.

90 Broad St
New York,
NY
US