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Cornerstones of Science News

Northern Maine library selected for new NASA-sponsored program

Fort Fairfield chosen as a NASA@My Library partner. Cornerstones is a co-investigator on this national project through NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD). So good to see that the Cornerstones science trunks helped motivate the library to apply for this project.

Full story is at the Bangor Daily News.

New Resources Available on the Cornerstones of Science Website

COS LogoCornerstones of Science Website

As promised, Cornerstones of Science has new online resources available including a new way to purchase library telescopes, find citizen science opportunities, and find science presenters to come to your library.

Citizen Science Projects- Go to the bottom of the Cornerstones of Science home page at “Find A Project!” This is a searchable database of actual citizen science opportunities that you and your family can contribute to thanks to SciStarter.Click here and scroll down to the bottom of the page.

Telescope Purchasing- Starting at the end of April, look for our new online Store for purchasing your next library telescope! Also available are FAQ’s, customizable forms, and other telescope updates. Look for the “Store” tab along top banner of the website toward the end of April.

Science Provider Network- In collaboration with Colby College, the Cornerstones of Science Science Provider Network will be populated soon with scientists from in and around the Waterville area. We will be working with others in the near future to continue building the database for presenters all around Maine. Cornerstones encourages you to add your library to the database and to have scientists in your area also sign up with their information and preferences for presenting. Keep a look out for this beginning in May!

2016 Cornerstones of Science Library Partner Summit

We invite you and your fellow public librarians to this special 1-day conference in Portland.

Library Partner Summit

Our focus is on four professional development themes: Becoming a STEM facilitator, building robust STEM community partnerships, raising funds for STEM in your library, and marketing library programs. This event is held in partnership with the Maine State Library as part of an IMLS National Leadership Grant.


Location: Portland Public Library (Main Library)

Date/Time: Friday, Dec. 9, 8:30 a.m.- 3:30 p.m.

Cost: Free! With a light breakfast and lunch included. Parking and mileage reimbursed.

Register by clicking the link below and filling out a short form.


The Library Telescope as Part of the Space Exhibit at the Portland Science Center

Boy with telescope and moon

The Portland Science Center, with their new Space exhibit, and Cornerstones of Science have recently partnered together to incorporate a library telescope into the Space exhibit!

You will see the library telescope (an Orion StarBlast 4.5″ Reflector Telescope on a Dobsonian base) with a banner explaining what you can do to learn more about space.

“Take that next step and experience space in your own backyard by checking-out a library telescope from your local public library. Over fifty libraries in Maine have Orion StarBlast 4.5 inch Reflector telescopes to check-out like you do a book!

Cornerstones of Science and public libraries have partnered to make this happen. Cornerstones is an informal science organization that works with libraries creating experiences of science that spark curiosity and foster a deeper connection to the world around us. Visit one of the public libraries listed below for a library telescope or encourage your local public library to participate.”

Library Name, City
Auburn Public Library, Auburn
Bangor Public Library, Bangor
Belfast Free Library, Belfast
Blue Hill Public Library, Blue Hill
Boothbay Public Library, Boothbay
Bowdoinham Public Library, Bowdoinham
Bridgton Public Library, Bridgton
Camden Public Library, Camden
Canaan Public Library, Canaan
Cary Library, Houlton
Casco Public Library, Casco
Cundy’s Harbor Library, Cundy’s Harbor
Curtis Memorial Librar,y Brunswick
D.A. Hurd Library, North Berwick
Falmouth Public Library, Falmouth
Gibbs Library, Washington
Hartland Public Library, Hartland
Ivan O. Davis Library, Liberty
Jackson Memorial Library, Tenants Harbor
Jefferson Public Library, Jefferson
Jesup Memorial Library, Bar Harbor
Lewiston Public Library, Lewiston
Limerick Public Library, Limerick
Lisbon Public Library, Lisbon
McArthur Public Library, Biddeford
Merrill Memorial Library, Yarmouth
Mildred Stevens Williams Memorial Library, Appleton
Newport Cultural Center, Newport
Northeast Harbor Library, Northeast Harbor
Orr’s Island Library, Orr’s Island
Patten Free Library, Bath
Pittsfield Public Library, Pittsfield
Portland Public Librar,y Portland
Prince Memorial Library, Cumberland
Raymond Public Library, Raymond
Rockland Public Library, Rockland
Scarborough Public Library, Scarborough
Shaw Memorial Library, Greenville
Skidompha Public Library, Damariscotta
South Paris Public Library South Paris
Southwest Harbor Library Southwest Harbor
Swans Island Public Library Swans island
Thompson Free Library, Dover-Foxcroft
Topsham Public Library, Topsham
Vassalboro Public Library, Vassalboro
Waterville Public Library, Waterville
William Fogg Library, Eliot
Windham Public Library, Windham
Winslow Public Library, Winslow
Wiscasset Public Library, Wiscasset
Witherle Memorial Library, Castine
York Public Library, York

The Science Learning Ecosystem

In John Falk’s report, Taking an Ecosystem Approach to STEM Learning, he and others on the report researched the amount of learning that happens outside of the formal education system and the need to connect these informal activities to empower people for a deeper learning experience.

Falk is a Sea Grant Professor of Free-Choice STEAM Learning, Oregon State University, and also the Director at the Institute for Learning Innovation (2.0). View John Falk speak about his research to the Cornerstones of Science Board of Directors at the Experience Cornerstones event in October 2015.

Click here to view John Falk talking about the power of STEM learning in informal settings

NASA @My Library Project

The Space Science Institute (SSI) along with its partners were recently awarded a five year NASA Cooperative Agreement. The project commences in January 2016, but preliminary details of the work Cornerstones will be involved with are presented here:

The overarching goal with SSI and the partners is to develop effective STEM programs in public libraries using NASA resources and Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) that reach underserved populations (e.g. rural communities) and underrepresented groups. Partners include the Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI), Pacific Science Center (PSC), Cornerstones of Science (CoS), American Library Association (ALA), and the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at the Univ. of Colorado.

The NASA@My Library patron experience component of the project is designed to test and validate 5-years of experience, that connects people, via public libraries, with space-related, experiences, assets and resources such as: star parties, loanable telescopes and working alongside astronomers and researchers. The goal is a patron experience that allows participants to move a long a spectrum – from their first introductions to science through a series of experiences, engaging activities and contributing to them contributing to science research.

A major component of the NASA@My Library project is to create, and evaluate a “program continuum” comprised of three components: 1) an Organizational Framework loosely based on Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle; 2) the blending of loanable science tools, experiences, locations and interactions with the space science research community; and finally, 3) integrating the recent cognitive psychology research around the “powers of interest” – both intrinsic and situational – that encourages families to move from vicarious observational learning to the action of seeking out and contributing to the collection of data and observations that define being “scientifically literate.”

Stay tuned for further details and updates as the project unfolds!

Library Partner Summit Agenda and Registration Information

2015 Library Partner Summit- Friday, December 11 in Augusta


Location of Meeting: Senator Inn and Spa, Augusta, Maine
284 Western Ave.
Augusta, Maine 04330

Contact Information: Sarah Post, Cornerstones Programs and Library Partner Support Manager

Date: Friday, December 11, 2015

Time: 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Registration: Email sarah.post@cornerstonesofscience.org with your name, library name, and session #of choice for 10am, 11am, and 1pm sessions. Also, please list any dietary restrictions.

LPS agenda crop1.fw

LPS crop2.fw

3D Printers into Libraries through the Help of an NSF Grant

Now at the end of year two of a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant with Maine Math and Science Alliance, Cornerstones of Science recently awarded and trained two libraries on The Cube third generation 3D printers. The STEM Guides Project (NSF#1322827) works to get science activities into communities through trained guides who focus on science, technology, engineering, and math. The librarians at Blue Hill Public Library in Blue Hill, ME and Thompson Free Public Library in Dover-Foxcroft, ME are considered STEM guides and are part of this initiative.

Cornerstones’ part in this grant is to introduce scientific tools to the library and help train the librarians to become champions of the work around the tools. “We know that librarians are well respected members of communities and patrons look to them for information,” states Sarah Post, the Program and Library Support Manager at Cornerstones of Science. “Training librarians with these tools helps build their confidence around science and in turn changes attitudes about science.”

Blue Hill and Thompson Free libraries have been and will continue to work with patrons, community members, and other STEM Guides to find ways for the community to enjoy and engage in science. The libraries do this through informal science learning opportunities with a telescope, two different microscopes (a compound and digital hand-held), the 3D printer, and with programs and events such as star parties and science cafes.

In future years, a few more libraries that are part of this five year grant will receive scientific tools. The work conducted and learned from this grant will help inform what training, guidance, and best practices are needed to be in place for librarian and patron success, and for the community to have a deeper connection to world around them.

Cornerstones and Maine Library Staff to Present at Upcoming Conferences

National ALA Conference in San Fransisco, CA
Sunday June 28 at 10:30 a.m.
Transforming the Sense of Wonder: The Library as a Community Science Center
Cynthia Randall, Ex.Director of Cornerstones of Science along with Janet McKenney of the Maine State Library, Portland Public Library Director Steve Podgajny, Head of Reference Linda Oliver at Bangor Public Library, and Mamie Anthoine Ney who is the Director at the Auburn Public Library.

Public Libraries & STEM: A National Conference on Current Trends and Future Directions in Denver, CO
Aug. 20-22

Association of Science-Technology Centers in Montreal Canada
Oct. 17-20
IMLS Session workshop with Cynthia Randall and Janet McKenney

Maine State Library and Cornerstones awarded an IMLS Grant

No longer just a book repository, public libraries are becoming more. For many years now, the Maine State Library (MSL) and Brunswick-based nonprofit Cornerstones of Science have worked together to assist local libraries in Maine at staying relevant in their communities by including science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) into programming and daily operations. These efforts have proved successful and now the MSL and Cornerstones are about to fully explore the model and invest energy in its replication to other states.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services awarded the Maine State Library and Cornerstones of Science a $500,000 National Leadership Grant to support the development of this emerging vision of public libraries as community science centers. The project draws upon six state library agencies, science-based companies, public libraries, the formal and informal science communities’ expertise and a commitment from matching fund partners of over $600,000 to put the final value of the grant at just over $1,100,000.

The project, “Empowering Public Libraries to be Science Resource Centers for their Communities,” will help the State Library Agencies, of Maine and Massachusetts, develop the tools that empower public libraries to build and sustain effective informal science programming and services that connect their patrons and communities to science and technology learning, equipment (e.g. telescopes, microscopes and science kits), books, media and people in the scientific community.