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STEM Backpacks

Frisco Public Library, TX
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Innovation Summary

STEM backpacks are designed for K-5th grade students. Currently, there are five themes with five identical backpacks per theme: buoyancy, magnetism, human body, weather and outer space. Each backpack includes four books, a DVD, interactive learning objects, factual inserts with information and instructions for additional experiments along with a quiz.

Problem Statement

A recent PEW study indicated that only 16% of scientists and 29% of the general public rank U.S. STEM education for grades K-12 as above average or the best in the world. 75% of AAAS scientists say too little STEM education for grades K-12 is a major factor in the public’s limited knowledge about science. An overwhelming majority of scientists view the public’s limited scientific knowledge as a problem for science. As the educational arm of the city, the Frisco Public Library decided to create the STEM backpack collection in order to encourage families to continue STEM learning at home after the school day ends.

Source: http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/01/29/public-and-scientists-views-on-science-and-society/

Innovation

Consider which age appropriate STEM subject areas will be of greatest interest to the community. Select contents that will be the most beneficial to the learning process and include suitable materials for both the younger and older students. It is essential to consider the feasibility of themes, and find interactive objects that will both fit in the backpack format and be affordable in the quantities needed. When developing the suggestions for further experiments to be done at home, factor in supplies that will likely be readily available in the home if it’s not viable to include them in the backpack.

Progress

The clear plastic backpacks help market the collection by allowing patrons to get a sneak peak at the contents. Upon launching the first twenty-five backpacks, every backpack was checked out within four days. Since its launch on February 3, 2015 this collection has circulated 105 times. STEM Backpacks are rarely on the shelves. On average there are about 5 of the 25 backpacks on hold at any one time, and only one or two available for checkout. The Human Body and Outer Space themes are in the most demand so far. Library members have suggested several ideas for additional themes. The library plans to increase the collection at the rate of at least 25 new STEM backpacks per fiscal year to better meet demand.