In fall 2017, the Washington State Library teamed up with the Imagine Children’s Museum of Everett, School’s Out Washington and the Spokane County Library District for a grant application to fund a program to promote literacy-based STEM activities for children ages 3 to 10 and their families.
The application was successful. This STEM program stood out from many others because the program begins the exploration of scientific concepts through sharing a children’s book. Few other STEM programs, if any, are literacy-based.
In March 2018, the four organizations’ representatives received training in Philadelphia from the Franklin Institute. The Institute will administer this three-year research grant from the National Science Foundation. This year’s exploration is around the physics of balance.
The grant works on a train the trainer model. The four organizations are expected to recruit between 60 to 90 educators each year.
The educators get a free kit of materials to put on the workshop. In return for the training, educators are required to lead at last three workshops per year for children and families. Another requirement is that each educator will lead an event during National Leap into Science, which is the last week of February. The grant is particularly designed to reach children in inner cities and rural areas.
The Spokane County Library, the Imagine Museum and School’s Out Washington are each leading a training, and the Washington State Library is the administrative lead.
Spokane County hosted its training in May. In September, the Imagine Children’s Museum trainer will lead a training in Everett, and the School’s out Washington trainer will conduct one a week later in Auburn. Next year’s trainings are tentatively scheduled for Vancouver, for Whatcom County, and Wenatchee or the Tri-cities area. In 2020, the Washington and Oregon State Library teams will co-present a preconference at the joint Washington and Oregon State Library associations’ conference.