We all do it, and yet it's such a delicate topic. The Academy of Natural Sciences hopes its new exhibit, "The Scoop on Poop," opening Saturday, will show visitors that waste actually is not: Animal droppings are used in earth-science research and farming, and by power companies.

Guests can listen in on an animal's digestive system, compete in dung-beetle races, and improve their "Number 2" IQ in stool school. The exhibit will demonstrate how animals use their waste to build homes, hide from enemies and attract mates, and cool off in warmer months; and how scientists use modern animal droppings to track migration patterns and DNA found in scat to study population genetics.

Coprolites, the name for fossilized waste, also tell us about long-extinct species. Scientists use coprolites to determine the types of environments dinosaurs lived in, including the plants and other animals they consumed. Kids can meet a dinosaur dung detective, learn the language of poop around the world, and examine coprolites on display in Dinosaur Hall.

"The Scoop on Poop," 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays through May 13, at the Academy of Natural Sciences, 19th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Admission: $10; $8 ages 3 to 12, seniors, college students and military personnel; free for those under 3. Information: 215-299-1000 or www.ansp.org.

History in the cards

In the last few years, poker has enjoyed immense popularity as a casual reason for friends to get together. But in the 18th and 19th centuries, card games like loo, from which poker is derived, and whist, a predecessor of bridge, were the leisure activities fancied by wealthy families during winter.

Pottsgrove Manor, the 1752 home of John Potts, the founder of Pottstown and colonial ironmaster, will host an afternoon of demonstrations of these and other games the Pottses played when harsh winters drove them inside. The manor's "living historians" will share the history and lifestyle of the Pottses, and of the local farmers who repaired tools, cut firewood and mended fences while their wives made soap or candles to survive winter.

"Games People Play," 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday at Historic Pottsgrove Manor, 100 W. King St., Pottstown. Free. Information: 610-326-4014 or www.historicsites.montcopa.org.

Planning for fun

The Lansdale Public Library invites families of all cultures to join in planning its 16th Annual International Spring Festival.

A meeting will be held Thursday for anyone interested in volunteering for this year's festival, "Americans Celebrating Their Heritage," scheduled for April 21. The event includes entertainment, and cuisine from the Caribbean, Southeast Asia and the Middle East titillates crowds' taste buds. The festival offers activities for children, such as a passport program and crafting ethnic and cultural costumes for play. The 2006 event drew nearly 3,500 visitors, with 131 displays, performances and food representing various countries.

Lansdale Public Library Festival Committee Meeting, 7 p.m. Thursday at the North Penn Educational Services Center, 401 E. Hancock St., Lansdale. Free. Information: 215-362-2666 or www.internationalspringfestival.com.

Contact writer Brooke Honeyford

at bhoneyford@phillynews.com.