New Grants Help 12 Museums and Libraries Plan and Design New Learning Labs
Learning Labs Foster Creativity and Collaboration through Creation in STEM and Beyond
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation today announced the second round of winners of a national competition to design 21st century Learning Labs in museums and libraries around the country. The 12 winners—five museums and seven libraries—will receive a total of $1.2 million in grants to plan and design the labs. Inspired by YOUmedia, a teen space at the Chicago Public Library, and innovations in science and technology centers, these labs will help young people move beyond consuming content to making and creating it.
Each Learning Lab will be designed to facilitate a research-based education model known as connected learning – one that promotes discovery, creativity, critical thinking and real-world learning through activities and experiences that bring together academics and young people’s interests, often facilitated by digital and traditional media. The labs will connect teens to mentors and peers, as well as anytime, anywhere access to information through online social networks, so they can pursue their interests more deeply and connect these new skills to academics, career, and civic engagement.
“Digital media are revolutionizing the way young people learn, socialize, and engage in civic life,” said Julia Stasch, Vice President of U.S. Programs for the MacArthur Foundation. “These innovative labs are designed to provide today’s youth with the space, relationships, and resources to connect their social worlds and interests with academics, and to better prepare them for success in the 21st century.”
“Because of the expertise and content we have to offer, museums and libraries are uniquely positioned to offer young people meaningful learning experiences that link to science, art, and technology,” said Susan Hildreth, Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. “With caring mentors and skilled professionals on staff to guide teens in their exploration, Learning Labs help youth express themselves and hone their skills in a safe environment.”
The new Learning Labs are planned for: Dallas, TX; Madison, WI; Rochester, NY; Oakland, CA; Billings, MT; Poughkeepsie, NY; Tucson, AZ; Richmond, VA; Tuscaloosa, AL; Pittsburgh, PA; Lynn, MA; and Las Vegas, NV. Each of the winning institutions will match funds from the competition and is developing partnerships with local educational, cultural, civic and business organizations to expand the resources available to build a network of learning opportunities for young people.
These grantees join 12 other communities also planning new learning centers in libraries and museums as a part of the Learning Labs in Libraries and Museums project. The initiative was first announced in September 2010 in response to President Obama’s “Educate to Innovate” campaign, an effort to foster cross-sector collaboration to improve America’s students’ participation and performance in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Since then, MacArthur and IMLS have committed to invest $4 million to support knowledge-sharing activities for museums and libraries nationwide, and work together to create new Learning Labs across the nation.
Urban Libraries Council (ULC) and the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) will continue to manage and guide the Learning Lab grantee community to ensure that each new space embodies best practice principles, based on research and evidence in the field of youth digital learning, to help young people gain 21st century skills and an effective STEM education.
The 12 recipients of this round of grants were selected out of a pool of 105 applicants from 33 states and one territory. Applications were evaluated by professionals with relevant expertise in digital media and learning, as well as museum and library management. Winners will participate—in-person and online—in a community of practice that will provide technical assistance, networking, and cross-project learning. To learn more about the Learning Labs Project, visit www.imls.gov or Youmedia.org.
21st Century Learning Lab Locations
The following 12 locations have been selected as part of the second round of a national competition to plan and design 21st Century learning labs in libraries and museums around the country.
The Dallas Museum of Art (DMA), in partnership with the Museum of Nature and Science (MNS), will plan and design a Learning Lab focused on the intersections of science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) learning. The proposed lab will allow youth to explore how the experimental work of artists and scientists overlap and encourage creativity and communication skills. The DMA and the MNS will share equal responsibility for staffing the Learning Lab, with a “home base” location at the DMA’s Tech Lab. As the project develops, a satellite location at the MNS may be added.
Madison Children’s Museum’s KidShare project creates digitally based experiences to promote scientific and cultural literacy for middle school and high school audiences. KidShare includes a Mobile Media Lab that will travel into neighborhoods and help youth create digital stories; a Digital Design Workshop where youth can “hang out, mess around, and geek out”; and Neighborhood Lens, a prototype digital interactive exhibit focusing on local stories, collected and designed by children, including a website for off-site engagement. MCM will collaborate with the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Filament Games. The project is being developed in collaboration with the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County, and youth will be involved in every aspect of its planning and design.
The Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Berkeley
Contact: Janet Noe
This project will support TechHive, an innovative learning space providing fun, interest-driven, youth-inspired design challenges. As with the Lawrence Hall of Science’s popular Ingenuity Lab, the TechHive will encourage youth to apply an engineering design approach to creativity and problem solving. It will increase delivery of this type of experience by providing a new space where youth can develop and test a set of open-ended design challenges as starting points for inspiration and creativity using software, fabrication tools, STEM expertise, peer mentors, and social media. All challenges will motivate participants to develop lengthier and more challenging engineering design projects that may involve any combination of digital sketching, computer programming, engineering design, fabrication, and digital storytelling. TechHive will leverage interest in new media to build young people’s 21st century STEM content knowledge, skills, and support career exploration.
The Science Museum of Virginia will integrate its Innovation Studio digital media hub with a network of out-of-school time STEM Outposts—for example, Boys & Girls Clubs, 4-H programs, and 21st Century Community Learning Centers. Funding will support increases and improvements in staff and technology. It will better enable youth to learn problem solving, communications, and global awareness. The project equips volunteer mentors to facilitate learning around a series of STEM challenges. It will also result in a sustainable operating plan that fully engages the museum, youth participants, out-of-school time partners, and the broader community in a dynamic connected learning network.
University of Alabama/Alabama Museum of Natural History
Contact: Linda Watson
The University of Alabama Department of Geography and the Alabama Museum of Natural History are partnering to plan, design, and prototype the Discovery Learning Lab, which will give middle and high school-aged students access to “geek” mentors who will guide them in explorations of digital technologies not readily available at home or school. Goals for the project include creating formal partnerships with representatives from the entire spectrum of the local education community, planning and designing a space that will allow participants ways to connect with each other and their mentors, providing opportunities for autonomous explorations as well as structured programs, and exposing teens to STEM disciplines, skills, activities, and software at the lab and in a cyberspace environment.
Rochester Public Library’s Cypher Productions @ Teen Central will provide an inviting, collaborative, mentored space for youth aged 13-18 to explore the art and science of video and animation production. This will give underserved youth new ways of engaging with important 21st century literacy practices. Instructors will be experienced youth and professional filmmakers, media artists, musicians, and animators who will teach through hands-on mini-workshops and informal guided participation. The project will help bridge the digital divide faced by many urban youth through a strong partnership among the public library; Nazareth College; and ArtPeace, a community-based arts/technology/entrepreneurship group.
The Labs @ Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (CLP) is a teen-driven, interest-based digital learning environment designed to serve teens in and around the city of Pittsburgh. The Labs @ CLP will expand the library’s teen services programming by providing teens with opportunities to create and share digital media using free library resources in four strategically placed learning labs throughout the city. With the help of key community partners–including Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center, University of Pittsburgh School of Library and Information Science, Filmmakers at the Center (Pittsburgh Filmmakers), Hip-Hop on LOCK, Saturday Light Brigade (Radio), Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute, and HackPittsburgh.org—the project will reach teens in underserved parts of the city.
City of Lynn, Massachusetts (Lynn Public Library)
Contact: Jamie Cerullli
More than 40 percent of Lynn’s teens are first generation Americans from homes where English is not the primary language. This project will integrate this population into the world of state-of-the-art digital media technology. The Lynn Public Library, and its partners the Center for Teaching Innovation at Salem State University, the Boys and Girls Club of Lynn, and the Russian Community Association of Massachusetts, will work with existing institutions in Lynn currently involved with teens. The project guides teens through all the elements of the design process, including basic research, site visits to digital media centers, product testing, and budgeting.
The Las Vegas-Clark County Library District, will partner with the city of Las Vegas, Henderson District Public Libraries, Discovery Children’s Museum, the Nevada Natural History Museum, and the University of Nevada Las Vegas Department of Journalism and Media Studies to plan a Youth Digital Learning Lab. The project, which will be designed and vetted with youth input and community feedback, will feature a network of digital learning opportunities for middle and high school youths. The learning opportunities will reflect best practices in mentor development, youth development, and civic engagement. The project will help position libraries as hubs and catalysts for youth digital literacy and help make youths central to local economic activity and vitality.
Parmly Billings Library Foundation, Inc.
Contact: Leslie Modrow
The Parmly Billings Library (PBL), in partnership with Billings School District 2, will establish the first Learning Lab in Montana. The Learning Lab’s target audience will be the at-risk teens on the large American Indian reservations (Crow and Northern Cheyenne) adjacent Billings, where the high school dropout rate is nearly 58 percent. Weaving Montana TALES (Teaching and Learning Empowers Students) will be created by and for teens with the assistance from key staff members, which will include an area integration specialist, a Homeless Education Liaison, and the Director of Indian Education.
Pima County Public Library (PCPL) will plan three unique media spaces to serve middle and high school youth throughout the 9,189-square-mile expanse of Pima County. Serving urban, suburban, and rural communities, the library plans to address the diverse needs of Pima County youth through a mobile media lab, a youth media space in downtown Tucson, and an online community. The planning process will bring together a leadership team of partners with a deep history of youth media programming along with established teen groups that already meet at the library.
The Poughkeepsie Public Library District’s MediaLab will be a physical and online space where youth will get together to engage with media technology and with adult mentors in order to explore their interests and improve their skills. The physical space will be a dedicated Teen Room in the main library where youth currently gather to play electronic games, find books and DVDs, and use computers. The library district will partner with the Children’s Media Project, IBM, and a group of teen advisors to plan and design a space and a selection of activities. Teens will also use a social networking space to post their projects, exchange ideas, and share their ideas with teens in other communities. Because of the main library’s proximity to the library system offices, the project offers an excellent opportunity to serve as a pilot program that can eventually serve a regional need.
About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grantmaking, policy development and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov or follow @US_IMLS on Twitter.
About the MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning Initiative
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supports creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. In addition to selecting the MacArthur Fellows, the Foundation works to defend human rights, advance global conservation and security, make cities better places, and understand how technology is affecting children and society. The Foundation’s digital media and learning initiative aims to determine how digital media are changing the way young people learn, play, socialize, and participate in civic life. The goal is to build a base of evidence about how young people learn today, in an effort to re-imagine learning in the 21st century. To learn more, please visit: www.macfound.org/learning or follow us on Twitter @macfound.
About the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC)
The Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) is a global organization providing collective voice and professional support for science centers, museums, and related institutions, whose innovative approaches to science learning inspire people of all ages about the wonders and the meaning of science in their lives. Through strategic alliances and global partnerships, ASTC strives to increase awareness of the valuable contributions its members make to their communities and the field of informal STEM learning. Founded in 1973, ASTC now represents over 600 members in 45 countries, including not only science centers and museums, but also nature centers, aquariums, planetariums, zoos, botanical gardens, and natural history and children’s museums, as well as companies, consultants, and other organizations that share an interest in informal science education. For more information on ASTC, or to find a science center near you, please visit www.astc.org or follow us on Twitter @sciencecenters.
About the Urban Libraries Council
Urban Libraries Council (ULC) is a membership organization made up of North America’s premier public library systems and the corporations supporting them. While ULC’s members primarily represent urban and suburban settings, the work done by ULC is widely used by all libraries including those in rural settings. ULC strategically addresses issues important to all communities including education, workforce and economic development, public safety, environmental sustainability, health, and wellness. ULC’s members are thought leaders dedicated to the continuous evolution and strengthening of libraries to meet changing community needs. ULC’s focus is on helping library leaders develop and utilize skills and strategies that match the challenges of the 21st century. Learn more at www.urbanlibraries.org or follow us on Twitter: @UrbanLibCouncil.