Jr.FLL in Libraries
Libraries are uniquely positioned to reach underserved and underrepresented populations with Jr.FLL programs. While parent volunteers served as the coaches, children’s librarians and teen volunteers (e.g. high school students) were also involved. A Jr.FLL program was established in selected public libraries with funding from the LEGO Foundation and internal NCIL funds. Initially, 3 pilot sites (in Cheyenne, WY; Louisville, CO; and Longmont, CO) were chosen to demonstrate the efficacy of this intervention and whether host libraries would be able to effectively run the program, recruit participants, and attract high quality coaches.
Phase 2 of the pilot began in the Spring, 2014, with a competitive application disseminated through the STAR_Net Online Community for an additional 17 libraries (20 total). The announcement received over 80 qualified applications, and participants were chosen based on a variety of factors, including but not limited to: current participation in technology and engineering activities, percentage of population classified as underserved, size of population served and geographic location. Jr.FLL host libraries represent a diverse cross-section of library patrons nationwide. The map shows where the pilot sites are located.
A 5 team, 12 session format was the ideal starting point for the host libraries. With 2-6 children and a coach on each team, the host library oversaw all aspects of the program including the Expo at the end of each session. Utilizing the Jr.FLL Activity Pack, volunteer coaches guided their team through the 12 sessions with the step-by-step instructions provided, using relevant library resources.
With 12 defined sessions, libraries decided when/how they would like their teams to meet. For example, as an after-school offering, libraries could have teams meet twice a week for 6 weeks or once a week for 12 weeks with a culminating Expo to show off their work at the end. This flexibility allows libraries to choose a schedule that best fits their space and the children they are looking to reach. The Expo experience was a great way for libraries to invite community members (children and adults) to celebrate the achievements of the Jr.FLL students and for participants to learn about the important role that STEM is playing in their community.