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In The Spotlight

STEM Saturday Event at Festus Public Library: A NASA @ My Library Pilot Project

STEM Saturday Event

Fun with the Investigating the Insides activity and an Infrared Thermometer! Photo by Sarah Post

On Saturday January 28, 2017 approximately 300 people attended a three-hour STEM Saturday event at Festus Public Library in Festus, MO. The coordinated event was part of the NASA@My Library Pilot Project, which incorporates training librarians, seeking out experts to assist, using science tools and NASA-related activities, and community involvement all around earth and space science. A few days before the event, three librarians from Festus Public library went through a half-day training with Cornerstones of Science on the STEM tools and activities. On the day of the event, eight stations were set up around the library, six were facilitated and two were open play. One of the stations had a member of the St. Louis Astronomical Society presenting on the upcoming solar eclipse.
Stations included:

  • Microscopes and Meteorite/Meteor-Wrong activity
  • Green Screen and tablet for seeing yourself on Mars
  • Investigating the Insides planet activity with the infrared thermometer and magnetometer on the tablet
  • Code-a-pillar
  • Robot Turtle game
  • Code-and-Go Mouse
  • Circuit Maze game
  • Eclipse presentation and binoculars

The library and the community members who attended the event loved it. Many of the attendees also spent time at the library doing other things such as using the computers and checking out books related what they learned at the different stations. Because the event was so successful, the library plans to hold similar events throughout the year.

We encourage other libraries to hold their own STEM Saturday event with items and activities you already have at your library or look up activities on the STEM Activities Clearinghouse. You can also purchase some of the items mentioned above online.

ALA Application for the NASA @ My Library Project

NASA My Library Program

An exciting opportunity for libraries around the nation will come about at the beginning of the New Year and your library could be one of them! American Library Association (ALA) will release an application in January/February 2017 for libraries to apply to be one of 100 libraries chosen to be part of the NASA@ My Library Project, which is four-year project full of exciting events, opportunities, resources, and professional development for library staff around space and earth science and specifically includes NASA related activities and professionals.

Keep a look out for the application or contact ALA about the NASA@ My Library application and see if your library qualifies. Each library chosen will receive an assortment of space and earth science kits and support, and will focus in on helping the underserved and underrepresented parts of their communities.

NASA@ My Library is a five-year cooperative agreement between NASA Science Mission Directorate (SMD) Sci. Ed., Space Science Institute’s National Center for Interactive Learning (NCIL), Cornerstones of Science, ALA, Education Development Center (EDC), and the Pacific Science Center’s Portal to the Public Network (PoPNet).


STEM Afterschool: It’s Time to Activate!

A messaging toolkit to make the case for STEM in afterschool

As advocates for STEM programming, we’ve all experienced resistance. “I’m not a science person,” someone groans. “Science in a library?” They raise their eyebrows.

Whether you need to inspire a fellow librarian, convince a skeptical director, or market programs to your patrons, STEM Afterschool: It’s Time to Activate! can help. A clear, easy to read and use advocacy toolkit, this guide from the Frameworks Institute and Afterschool STEM Hub will help you ignite support and expand community STEM learning in your library. Bright, presentation-ready pages provide a comprehensive list of clear talking points and concise, relevant research and/or case studies for each; a Quick Start Campaign Guide offers easy framing strategies; a Q & A section answers common STEM program advocates’ concerns; and an annotated list of original studies and related resources helps STEM program advocates communicate more powerfully. There’s even a customizable page where librarians can insert an explanation of their own program.

Seventy-five percent of Nobel laureates in the sciences credit informal science education experiences for inspiring their lifelong passion, and study after study has shown that afterschool STEM programs engage and sustain interest in STEM fields, a professional sector predicted to grow 17% between 2008 and 2018. Yet a Nielsen study shows that children living in rural areas participate in afterschool STEM learning half as much as urban children. Just about every small town has a library, and by persuasively advocating for the expansion and support of library-facilitated informal STEM learning, we can help spark the next generation of STEM leaders.

Click here for the Messaging Tool Kit.

Don’t “Just Google It!”

Some of us have gotten into a bad habit when researching topics on the internet. We just Google it! There are better ways of searching when looking for science activities to facilitate and/or develop for your library though. Good informal science resources may not make it to the top of Google search when you ‘just Google it’ (like when you search for other resources through a major search engine). It is sometimes hard to break the habit of going for the quick and easy way to search, but we should try because we know of many better sites to trust.
There are always a number of good linked resources in the Cornerstones of Science e-newsletters and on the website. Below are some other specific sites to use so that maybe you can have a few go-to places in the future instead of automatically Googling it. Whether you like to find that perfect activity that is already fully formed or you like to develop your own activities, but need to find inspiration and materials, there are many good places to look to help you facilitate or develop science programming.
A short list:











Cornerstones of Science- Science trunks http://www.maine.gov/msl/libs/cornerstones/index.shtml

Science backpacks – Visit York Public Library, Camden Public Library, Curtis Memorial Library, and more

What is the Makers Movement?

Every wanted to know what people are really talking about when the say “makers?” A Time news article from last year does a good job at getting to the heart of who and what makers are. They are anyone who makes something, and it can mean anything, which includes a lot of people because it doesn’t discriminate between methods or materials. Why the Maker Movement Is Important to America’s Future from Time.com article Tech Big Picture May 2014

“Do We Need Libraries?” – Great Discussion and Comments

More often than not a comment section for on-line articles can send you in a fit of rage and can harden your view on certain topics. The NPR article entitled “Do We Need Libraries?” is different because it invites you into the conversation by having the question as the title of the article. The article itself is a short history on libraries (focused on Carnegie Libraries) and was published on May 5, 2015 by Linton Weeks through the NPR History Dept website blog. Learn a bit about the history of libraries, take notice of the reference to the Pittsfield Public Library in Maine (see image below), and then read though some of the comments. There are some wonderful sentiments, memories, ideas, and future plans that people have around their experience with libraries. This article (and the comments section) definitely deserves the spotlight!

Click here for the article


Carnegie Public Library in Pittsfield, Maine – Library of Congress image.


All Things New Horizons

We just can’t get enough of New Horizons and Pluto. Visit this link to NASA’s New Horizon site if you can’t either! SO much great information and amazing images. Enjoy!



Bytes Not Books Article

Here is an article in the Lewiston Sun Journal from Sunday March 29, 2015 on tech in libraries and loanable science tools in Maine.


Science-Technology Activities and Resources Library Education Network (STAR_Net)

Cornerstones of Science would like to bring to the attention of all public libraries The STAR Library Education Network (STAR_Net), a national program led by the Space Science Institute’s National Center for Interactive Learning. STAR stands for Science-Technology Activities and Resources (not to be confused with Cornerstones’ own STAR telescope program). STAR_Net education programs were created to inspire lifelong learning through inquiry and play.

Kid making circuitThe project has developed two interactive traveling exhibits (Discover Earth: A Century of Change and Discover Tech: Engineers Make a World of Difference), coupled with a variety of education and outreach programs. This additional programming includes hands-on activities related to the content of the exhibits for different age groups. The project includes a training program for librarians, a comprehensive outreach program for classroom teachers and out-of-school instructors, and an Online Community of librarians and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) professionals — currently, over 400 members nationwide.

Core partners include the American Library Association, Lunar and Planetary Institute, and the National Girls Collaborative Project. Other partners include the Afterschool Alliance, National Academy of Engineering, Engineers Without Borders-USA, IEEE-USA, the National Renewable Energy Lab, American Geophysical Union, Geological Society of America, LEGO, and many more. Phase 1 of the STAR_Net project is supported through a grant from the National Science Foundation.