Hofstra hosts a backpack art adventure

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"Campus security is all affright

There are odd things happening during the night.

While professors and students are asleep in their beds

Something is happening, and it is quite widespread."

So begins "The Case of the Mystery Sculpture," a caper that sends kids (and parents) through the Hofstra University campus in Hempstead, looking for clues on five different sculptures, including one of an eagle and another of Plato having a discussion with Socrates.

The Hofstra University Museum offers four free Capers and Sculpture Exploration Backpack adventures that send off families with backpacks stuffed with clues either through the university's outdoor grounds or inside the David Filderman Gallery. A new backpack adventure this summer focuses on outdoor abstract shapes.

Several 12-year-olds on a recent visit were absorbed in the backpack art projects, working on benches near the "Skater Gate" sculpture. But the sculpture hunts are geared to ages 4 to 10.

"I think it's really fun," says Jera Gibney, 9, visiting from Goffstown, N.H. She drew her own ornate gates, using the colored pencils and sketchbook provided in the yellow backpack and looking at "Skater Gate" for inspiration. Jera's sister, Rose, 12, and their friend Fiona Somers, also 12, of Rockville Centre, were sketching away.

Here are the adventure options:

THE GREAT ART CAPER:

THE CASE OF THE MYSTERY SCULPTURE

What it is Pick up a booklet that includes a map with sculpture locations clearly marked. You'll fill in information from the sculptures to spell out the answer to the riddle.

THE GREAT ART CAPER

What it is The indoor caper at the David Filderman Gallery is a quickie -- find the correct painting from a clue showing a small portion of the whole, then fill in letters from the artists' birth countries to find the solution.

SCULPTURE EXPLORATION BACKPACK: SHAPESWhat it is The newest addition, this adventure on the north campus takes kids to sculptures such as "Skater Gate" and "Ides of March." Kids are asked to draw their own sculptures and create miniature artworks using pipe cleaners, colored pencils, Styrofoam blocks and other materials.

SCULPTURE EXPLORATION BACKPACK: ANIMALSWhat it is This is a South Campus jaunt to sculptures such as "Thom Cat Male and Female" lions and the "Sensory Garden Fishpond." Kids will love the pond's real goldfish. Art projects include making a fish-scale-like rubbing and using foam shapes to create a mini animal sculpture.

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