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Telescope Donated to a Deserving Library

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Telescope Donated to a Deserving Library

Thomaston Public Library in Thomaston, Maine recently received their library telescope and training from Cornerstones of Science.  A series of interesting events led up to them taking delivery of the telescope that included a retiring Cornerstones board member with a passion for the library telescope program, and the library’s strong STEM engagement for their community.

At the end of 2018, Rudi Graf, a Cornerstones Board Member from 2014-2018, decided to retire from the board due to a health issue. The staff and board felt that they wanted to do something special to honor Rudi and the work he put into the organization. Donating a library telescope to a deserving library seemed to be the perfect idea, since the program was much beloved by Rudi, previous owner of The Science Source, a science kit development and distribution company in Waldoboro, Maine. At the same time, Cornerstones staff noticed a number of STEM initiatives that the Thomaston Public Library initiated in the past year. One such initiative was the impressive 40 Days of Summer program where they not only borrowed every Cornerstones Science Trunk to use for programming, but they held numerous other activities to help the community’s youth stay engaged throughout the summer.

A small dedication ceremony took place at the library on November 15 with Rudi Graff in attendance along with CoS staff, library staff, and library patrons.

Congrats to the Thomaston Public Library! See what they do http://www.thomaston.lib.me.us/

To learn more about the CoS Library Telescope program visit https://www.cornerstonesofscience.org/products-services/telescope-program/

Head Librarian Diane Giese (left), Rudi Graf (center), and librarian Caroline Ward-Nesbit (right)

Citizen Science Guide for Libraries is Now Available

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Citizen Science Guide for Libraries is Now Available


Planning for Citizen Science Day has never been easier. The Librarians Guide to Citizen Science by SciStarter and The School for the Future of Innovation in Society at Arizona State University (ASU) is a newly published resource specifically for libraries interested in engaging their communities in citizen science. Citizen Science Day is Saturday April 13 this year, so head on over the SciStarters Citizen Science Day webpage to find some great activities and resources as well as access to The Librarian Guide. Also, there are some impressive print-ready event materials that make it even easier to inform and remind patrons about your Citizen Science Day events and activities.

The Librarian Guide not only helps with Citizen Science Day, it goes beyond and into new ways to connect people to science throughout the year. Citizen Science activities can also be found on the Cornerstones of Science website and scrolling down to the Find a Project! section on the homepage.

We are excited to note that Cornerstones’ own Executive Director, Cynthia Randall, received a special mention on page 2 of the Guide:

SPECIAL THANKS TO: Cynthia Randall, Executive Director of Cornerstones of Science, for providing the foundation for this Guide and for her professional guidance in supporting public libraries as vibrant community hubs for citizen science.

Cynthia has been a champion for science in libraries as Cornerstones’ ED for 7 years now and her work is visionary and inspiring. This special thanks does not come as a surprise to those who work with her closely, but we are grateful to SciStarter and ASU for honoring her in this way.



Join a fellow Maine library and others in offering a Megathon event during Citizen Science Day! http://www.scarboroughlibrary.org/events/megathon

A Vision for Libraries, 20 Years in the Making

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A Vision for Libraries, 20 Years in the Making

Cornerstones of Science founder Lee Grodzins is an inventor, an MIT professor emeritus of physics, and cofounder of the Union of Concerned Scientists. In 1999, he initiated the award-winning Cornerstones of Science program in partnership with the Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick, Maine. Since then, Cornerstones has evolved into a nonprofit organization backed by an expert board of directors, a dedicated staff, and a growing network of more than 300 public libraries around the country.

Public libraries: Trusted advocates for STEM learning

Science literacy is declining in America, and engaging the public in informal science learning, through public libraries, works to address this critical issue. Cornerstones is on a mission to partner with public libraries across America to strengthen their ability to connect patrons to important science-based community issues and interests, such as health, sustainability, astronomy, water quality and conservation, and climate change.

Our nation is home to only a small handful of science centers and aquariums. However, there are roughly 9,000 public libraries with 17,000 branches. Cornerstones is working with librarians and scientists to help libraries transform themselves into the primary place for youth, adults, and families to engage in interesting and locally relevant science experiences. Cornerstones helps libraries fill this vital role by providing turnkey kits, training, and resources needed to create a scientifically literate public.

Programs that connect communities with science

Cornerstones’ products and services are designed in partnership with public libraries. Together we create places and approaches that help connect patrons and communities with STEM experiences and science providers of local interest and importance.

Our current offerings include programs, training, and online resources.

The Cornerstones Model is a comprehensive package that combines workbooks and guides with in-person and virtual training to help librarians develop the skills they need to connect their communities through science.

The Loanable Library Telescope Program trains librarians and local astronomer mentors to put user-friendly telescopes in the hands of children and families. More than 50,000 people have been able to borrow telescopes, just as they would borrow a book, through 300 libraries in 22 states.

Online digital resources like the STEM Activity Clearinghouse provides librarians with free, vetted, engaging STEM activities and speakers appropriate for library audiences.

Recognizing the growing demand for science literacy in libraries

Cornerstones is recognized as a go-to source for high-quality, turnkey science products, training, and services that increase a library’s ability to deliver engaging and sustainable science programs.

Over $1 million in highly competitive federal grants awarded by NASA, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the National Science Foundation recognize the importance of this work.

Strategic partnerships with state library agencies accelerate libraries’ adoption of Cornerstones’ products and services, and reach across the nation.

Cornerstones@Berkeley, first branded “Cornerstones@” site. The public library is a science resource center and demonstration site that engages patrons and the community in science programs. This highly successful partnership has galvanized a cadre of science advocates within the Berkeley Public Library and surrounding scientific community.

Cornerstones of Science is celebrating its 20-year anniversary throughout 2019

Please let Cornerstones know if you have a “Cornerstones story” or experience that you would like to share. Did you have a fun experience with a science trunk activity or library telescope, did you attend one of our Library Partner Summit events and have a memorable moment, or did you have a conversation about Cornerstones with Lee or board or staff member that was inspiring? We hope to hear from you and THANK YOU for all your support over these many years!

STEM Resources Available (Oh, videos!)

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Video Resources:

The Cornerstones of Science YouTube page now has a number of STEM related how-to and other videos for librarians. The newest additions are three how-to videos on using astronomical tools for viewing the night sky as part of our work with the NASA@ My Library project.

How-to-training videos on science tools


STEM Stories videos

Watch short videos from seven public libraries on their successes and challenges on becoming a strong STEM library as part of a recent Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) grant with the Maine State Library and Cornerstones of Science.



Resource Links on STEM Workshops

Attend a NASA STEM Workshop with the Space Science Institute & Lunar Planetary Institute or host your own STEM training workshop




Webinar training opportunities for librarians will prepare librarians and librarian patrons for earth and space science events:

  • Science tools for the Universe of Stories Summer Reading. See how to use a library telescope (or get a refresher), binoculars, and a constellation finder in this 30 min. webinar. Presented by Cornerstones of Science on May 14th at 2 p.m. (EST) Register here


  • What’s Up! in June, July, and August

Short 15 min. webinars to understand what astronomical activity is happening in June, July, and August. Presented by Cornerstones of Science and Southern Maine Astronomers.

June 11th at 2 p.m. (EST) Register here

July 9th at 2 p.m. (EST) Register here

August 13th at 2 p.m. (EST) Register here


  • International Observe the Moon Night (InOMN) Prep A 30 min. webinar to learn about all the resources available for InOMN, which takes place on Oct 5th this year. Presented by Cornerstones of Science on September 10th at 2 p.m. (EST) Register here

Citizen Science at the Forefront

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If you are interested in learning more about and doing citizen science then you are in luck. Opportunities abound! Here are just a few to check out.

SciStarter logo

How-To Festival on Citizen Science

Saturday September 15 from 10-1pm in Brunswick, Maine

Come see Cornerstones present on SciStarter activities and the Library Telescope

The Curtis Memorial Library spearheads this festival!



Citizen Science Association (CSA) Conference

March 13-19 in Raleigh, North Carolina

Cynthia Randall, Executive Director of Cornerstones co-presenters at the conference.




Article from Connected Science Learning

Do Children Make Good Citizen Scientists?



Citizen Science SciStarter widget on the Cornerstones of Science website homepage (scroll toward the bottom of the page)

See the “Science We Can Do Together” box on the right side of the page.



Mathematics Problem Solving Program

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Here is a math program to promote in your community that supports out-of-school learning. Maine Mathematics Science and Engineering Talent Search (MMSETS) – Problem-Solving Program for Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont Students

Students receive a problem to solve once a month for seven rounds. Participating in this program is a fun way for student to improve their math skills in an informal way.

Deadline to apply this year is September 5!

More information on the Problem Solving Program including the application: http://www.mmsets.org/images/docs/mmsets18_19probsolv.pdf

More information on MMSETS: http://www.mmsets.org/

Cornerstones: STEM @ Berkeley Public Library

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Berkeley picture

“Working on a national scale is something Cornerstones has been engaged in for about three years now,” stated Sarah Post, Program and Library Support Manager. “We are doing this in a variety of ways from engaging public libraries and astronomy clubs in over 23 states through our Library Telescope Program, to a STEM project through an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) grant that works with six public libraries in Maine and Massachusetts and state libraries in four states. There is also our NASA@ My Library Project work with 75 public libraries in 49 states and four state library agencies, and now the Cornerstones: STEM@ Berkeley Public Library initiative.”

As a subset of the IMLS grant along with additional funds, Cornerstones and the Berkeley Public Library in Berkeley, CA were able to understand the library’s STEM capacity by seeking input from the library staff, board, and community. They used that feedback and made a plan of action that incorporates STEM into the library in a way that is community centered, engages all age groups, and is part of everyday operations. Check out what they are doing!


A Quick Reminder from… The Cornerstones of Science Library Telescope Program Astronomer-Ron Thompson (Cornerstones of Science and Southern Maine Astronomers)

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The CoS Library Telescope program started in 2012, so there are quite a few telescopes out there now. We have had very few problems with them over the years, but we want to make sure you check the battery/batteries in the telescope Red-dot EZ Finder. It is a good habit to check the batteries periodically for both function and safety. The Red-dot EZ Finder is the LED sighting scope located on the optical tube. There is no need to remove the Finder from the telescope to change the batteries.

Telescopes with a lithium battery (small button battery) (see top picture): The battery compartment is located on the underside of the EZ Finder. Pull down on the tab that shows where the battery is located. NOTICE how the battery is currently situated in the compartment so if you have to change the battery then you will see how it is seated.

Telescopes with AA battery pack (see bottom picture): The battery pack is located on the side of the EZ Finder and opened with a small Philips screwdriver. If you find a little bit of corrosion in the black battery pack, clean it out, and replace the batteries. Some corrosion is common when tools have batteries.

Time to Check Your Telescope Red-dot EZ Finder Batteries!

Check your Owner’s manual for more information or the Orion website at www.telescope.com for an instructional video on How to Replace the EZ Finder Battery.

Seeking State Libraries to Participate in the NASA@ My Library Project

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NASA My Library logo

Is your state interested in STEM and space science? Does your state library want to be part of a NASA yearlong project? The NASA@ My Library project currently has four State Libraries (MI, ND SC, and WA) participating as pilots and up to eleven more will be chosen for a total of 15 SLAs. As part of this project, State Libraries receive two space science kits that are primed to circulate out to public libraries. Participation includes attending monthly webinars, helping connect with state space science resources, and circulating the kits. The project begins in January 2019 ends in December 2019.

The application process opened on August 6th and calls for a Letter of Interest (LOI) e-submission. Closing date is September 21st and applicants chosen by October 15. We anticipate that SLAs will be under contract by mid-December.

To learn more about this opportunity please visit the COSLA web site or contact David.Keeley@cornerstonesofscience.org.


STEM Activities for… Earth Day and Summer Reading 2018

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Earth Day is on Sunday April 22. Need some ideas for Earth Day activities? The STEM Activity Clearinghouse is a great resource as is Star_Net.

Summer Reading 2018: Libraries Rock!

The Collaborative Summer Library Program’s Summer Reading theme is Libraries Rock! Listen to sounds of our Earth and beyond through Soundcloud.com.

Sounds of Nature (Bird Calls)

Spooky Sounds from Across the Solar System

Relaxing Rain and Loud Thunder

Howler Monkeys in Belize

Birdsongs of Australia

Find the sounds that make you rock out to science!