Engineering Resources for
Library Programs

Project BUILD

Building Using an Interactive Learning Design

Project BUILD brings together youth, their families, librarians, and professional engineers in a STEM learning environment centered on engaging youth grades 2-5 with activities that highlight the engineering design process. Seeking to serve the underserved segments of the library communities, the overarching aim of the project is to provide experiences that expand young people’s learning preferences to include STEM-related careers as possible options. Project BUILD also provides access to knowledgeable engineering professionals who participate in sessions and offer guidance through their insights and experiences.

The Space Science Institute’s (SSI) National Center for Interactive Learning (NCIL), in partnership with the University of Virginia (UVA) and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), was awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop and implement BUILD (Building Using an Interactive Learning Design) in 2017.

We hope you’ll find some of the Project BUILD resources listed on this site helpful as you design, promote, and implement your own interactive engineering program for your patrons. These resources were developed by STAR Net and other members of the Project BUILD team, including our six partner libraries — it is always helpful to learn from what other libraries are doing! Select from the menu below to quickly move to the topic you’re interested in.

Facilitating Engineering Learning Experiences

Engineering Design Challenges

Think, Build, Test, Do It Again…
That’s the process engineers use when they tackle a problem. Engineers don’t have official rules telling them to follow this set of steps. But, over time they’ve learned that they get the best results this way. They think and brainstorm about a problem and factors they have to consider to solve it. They come up with an idea and build a prototype. They test the prototype. And, then they repeat the process to improve their results.

It Takes a Lot of Back and Forth…
Engineers often move back and forth within the loop, repeating two steps over and over again before moving forward. It’s a key to engineering success. Sometimes, engineers will focus on one specific step, and when complete, pass the project off to another team with a different skill set. Engineers are creative problem solvers, and your library patrons can be too!

Download the Engineering Design Process logo, translated activity and programming materials, and much more from our Engineering Program Toolkit!

Guide on the Side Facilitation

Hands-on engineering activities can intrinsically help library patrons learn as they design, build, test, and try again; but how you facilitate these activities is just as important as the activities themselves!

For guidance on facilitating learning experiences for your patrons, check our Guide on the Side webpage, read our article in ALSC’s Children and Libraries journal, or watch the webinar, STEAM Learning in Public Libraries: A “Guide on the Side” Approach for Inclusive Learning.

Guide on the Side Facilitation

Interactive Engineering Activities for the Library

Choosing the right activity for your engineering program can make a world of difference! The STEM Activity Clearinghouse has over 500 activities and several collections devoted just to engineering. Check them out below!

STEM Activity Clearinghouse Logo

Engineering at Home

Learning doesn’t just take place at the library – check out these resources to help your patrons STEAM Ahead at Home!

Community Dialogues

Participating Project BUILD libraries hosted Community Dialogue events to engage in conversations with representatives from their local communities, including ASCE volunteers, local business/industry, community organizations, Girl and Boy Scout leaders, 4-H, homeschool groups, caregivers, and teachers, with an emphasis on including representatives from groups currently underrepresented in STEAM professions.

This short video highlight’s a Project BUILD library, the African American Research Library and Cultural Center in Broward County, Florida, and how they were able to facilitate a successful Community Dialogue in their library.

Community Dialogues are just one of several strategies that can be used to help your library be more aware of DEIA (Diversity, Equity, Inclusivity, Accessibility) issues present in your library and in your community. Visit STAR Net’s DEIA webpage for more resources.

Dream Big

Dream Big and Engineering Dream Team Panels

Dream–Build–Create Engineering Program
This inspirational program offered libraries and their patrons a free film screening of “Dream Big” and live access to several virtual panels with Dream Teams of young, diverse engineers. Choose a topic below to watch the virtual panel video:


Thank you for offering this high-quality programming to smaller libraries that may not ordinarily have access to a diverse array of engineers for children to be inspired by!

Library Staff, Project BUILD Dream Team Event

I am a big advocate for Community Dialogues to address community issues and build community awareness of issues impacting those populations. I found that it not only forced the library staff to look at the issues from different points of view but also helped library staff to hone in on specific ideas/items that may not have been apparent before talking to the community in such a forum.

Library Staff, Public Library

I think it’s really, really valuable to see that this is a stepping stone that will allow you to get to hear where you can solve real world problems and find real world solutions…The other thing is to see how many different directions engineering can go. From micro engineering to building bridges and everything in between.

Library Staff, Project BUILD Dream Team Event

Project BUILD really helped me step out of my comfort zone when it comes to STEM programs and working with children in general. This project has made me feel like STEM is more accessible to me and I am not intimidated by the thought of leading a STEM program anymore. The STEM Clearinghouse has been very helpful to me and I’ve shared it with many of my colleagues.

Library Staff, Public Library

[Youth] learned a lot about the process. They learned that you don’t always get it right the first time. And then they got into that. They didn’t get frustrated. I think a lot of them really got into trying again and again.

Library Staff, Public Library
Project BUILD Partners

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number DRL-1657593. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Join Over 8,000 Library Professionals

Become Part of the STAR Net Community of Practice!