The National Center for Interactive Learning (NCIL) at the Space Science Institute closed out its partnership with the Urban Libraries Council’s Partners for Middle School STEM project. The project, which kicked off in January 2019, brought together 10 public library systems to create and implement Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programs for underserved youth, ages 10-13.
NCIL Education Coordinators, Brooks Mitchell and Claire Ratcliffe, and Professional Development Manager, Keliann LaConte, served as advisors to the participating library staff. Through coaching calls, bi-monthly webinars, and a cohort convening at the start of the project, the NCIL team helped the libraries identify and develop programming resources designed to engage low-income middle school youth in STEM.
The 10 partner libraries included:
- The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, OH
- Hartford Public Library, CT
- Gwinnett County Public Library, GA
- St. Louis County Library, MO
- Prince George’s County Memorial Library System, MD
- Algona Public Library, IA
- Chicago Public Library, Il
- Pioneer Library System, OK
- Durham County Library, NC
- Mount Vernon City Library, WA
Each library brought innovative ideas for engaging middle school learners and learned a lot about facilitating STEM programs for tweens, while also developing community partnerships with organizations that strengthened their programs. Many of the libraries had great success in using programmable robotic tools, such as Ozobots, with their tween patrons, and most found that Engineering Design Challenges allowed the participants to build teamwork and creatively solve problems in a fun, hands-on way! Gwinnett County Public Library in Georgia found that offering programs in Spanish contributed to more inclusive STEM experiences for the tweens, and all cohort members became experienced in Guide on the Side facilitation techniques.
Learn more about the results of the Partners for Middle School STEM project and how to create a STEM program for tweens at your library here.
Photo credit: Prince George’s County Memorial Library System
Although I did not get the opportunity to participate in this program, I can say from experience that creating and moderating STREAM activities for t’weens is fantastic! I initiated t’ween programming in my library system, and it was an amazing experience.