Science Museums Come to Kids Where They Live
-- OUT-OF-SCHOOL-TIME EDUCATION -- The Institute for STEM Education is piloting an innovative way to deliver STEM education outside the school day with the San Lorenzo Public Library, one branch of the Alameda County Library System. This spring, the Lawrence Hall of Science and San Francisco’s Children’s Creativity Museum partnered, to provide a series of “Museum Pop-Up” STEAM events for families. The high quality, interactive Tuesday afternoon events take advantage of the library’s regular drop-in crowd, which includes teens who use the library for homework help. The sessions were centrally located so that visitors would see them immediately upon arrival. Library staff advertised the events in their newsletter.
Approximately 30 families attended each event, with a maximum number of about 50 people. Museum staff, who are experts in STEM education, designed each activity so that families were able to drop in and leave. Most participants spent 20-30 minutes engaged in the activities. Most groups were families, although some local home-school groups learned of the program and attended. Participants ranged in age from toddlers to early teens. Library staff reported that the Pop-Ups generated an increase in African American and Latino family participation.
Library staff were delighted with how noisy the Tuesday STEAM Pop-Ups were, equating the high volume with excitement and engagement. There was very little strain on library resources and very positive feedback from families. “With this pilot, some of the nation’s best science museums were able to meet their goal of expanding their audience—and families in an under-served community gained access to engaging after-school education. We thank all participants, and with this kind of validation look forward to expanding this model,” noted Bruce Simon, Associate Director of the Institute for STEM Education.