This project will bring STEM education to rural communities through local public libraries. Museum quality exhibits labelled as "Discover Earth", "Discover Technology", and "Discover Space" will spend 3 months at a series of locations around the Nation. Twenty four medium sized libraries will be chosen for the large exhibits and forty small libraries will be chosen for scaled down versions. The project's intent is to provide exhibits in every state and to reach as many under-represented individuals as possible. The significance of this project is that rural areas of this country are underserved regarding STEM education and since this segment of society is represented by 50-60 million residents, it is important to reach out to them. There is a significant segment of the Nation's population (50-60 million) that is underserved by out-of-school learning venues such as museums and science centers. An earlier phase 1 project demonstrated at 18 sites that rural libraries and librarians could provide STEM education to community members ranging in age from adults to children using these hands-on exhibits. Each exhibit (earth, space or technology) includes information about the topic and technologically enabled models to provide interesting and fun discovery mechanisms. They use common layman friendly language that highlights the most recent discoveries in each area. Each exhibit will be placed in the selected library for 3 months during which the library will organize events to feature and advertise the STEM learning opportunities. Another feature of this project will be to determine the models of learning in library settings and as a function of the demographics. The partners in this project that bring the necessary expertise are the American Library Association, the Afterschool Alliance, the Association of Rural and Small Libraries, the University of Colorado Museum, Datum Advisors, LLC, Evaluation and Research Associates, the Lunar and Planetary Institute, the American Geophysical Union, and the Space Science Institute.
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