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Partners for Middle School STEM

“Middle school is a critical time in a child’s education process and the perfect time to introduce STEM to underserved, low-income students. We want to bridge any gaps to ensure all students are building their STEM skills.”

ULC President and CEO Susan Benton

Partners for Middle School STEM

In partnership with the National Center for Interactive Learning at the Space Sciences Institute and funded by the Institute for Museum and Library Services, this two year project is focused on building community partnerships that result in increased science, technology, engineering and math learning opportunities for low-income middle school students in urban areas.

The project creates multi-sector partnerships among public library, schools, business and local government leaders, and is currently being piloted in 10 communities. These pilots are developing programs that engage low-income middle school youth in STEM education programs and catalyze the adoption of new partnerships, approaches and STEM activities.

The participating library systems have proposed the following projects to explore ways that libraries, local governments and schools can partner to increase STEM learning opportunities for low-income middle school youth:

Participant Library Projects

  • Algona Public Library (Iowa) will develop STEM Kits and programming to expose young patrons to a wide range of STEM topics, learning channels and career paths.

  • Chicago Public Library’s (Ill.) STEAM-ed and Chopped program looks to build deeper community engagement with STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) through challenges that will put kids into teams, train them and have them design solutions to a given problem using pre-selected materials.

  • Durham County Library’s (N.C.) STEAM OFF summer camp will feature themed weeks aimed at building the STEAM knowledge and interest of 10- to 13-year-old youth.

  • Gwinnett County Library’s (Ga.) Spanish Language STEM programing will aim to increase the number of Spanish language programs offered by the library, the awareness of STEM learning opportunities provided by the library and the involvement of caregivers in students’ education.

  • Hartford Public Library’s (Conn.) STEM Lab on the Go initiative will build a mobile STEM laboratory, support youth staff in programming and offer varied science learning opportunities at all library branches.

  • Mount Vernon City Library’s (Wash.) TechVenture program will build tech literacy in a welcoming and encouraging environment in order to expose youth to basic domains of STEM careers and help offer further steps to participate in STEM.

  • Pioneer Library System (Okla.) and Prince George’s County Memorial Library System (Md.) will collaborate to develop a program – STEM Pals – that will expose students to experts in STEM fields, engage students in STEM design projects with ties to real-world applications and strengthen the relationship between library branches and their school districts.

  • The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County’s (Ohio) Game On! Program will engage youth in game-based math challenges developed in partnership with Cincinnati Public Schools’ math teachers and coaches.

  • San José Public Library’s (Calif.) Coding5K Challenge will seek to increase local access to coding focused programs and deepen the quality of programming through the use of vetted curricula, assessment tools and expert volunteers.

  • St. Louis County Library’s (Mo.) STEM Club partnership with Ritenour School District provides after-school STEM programming at two middle schools for 90 minutes weekly. The project aims to develop workforce skills and engage the community and students who are library non-users.

Stay tuned for regular updates about the work of the pilot communities!

Thank You to Our Supporters for This Initiative


This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services grant LG-95-18-0025-18.

T Rowe Price

This project was made possible in part by the support of the T. Rowe Price Group, Inc. Click here to learn how T. Rowe Price's Money Confident Kids program is helping middle school youth prepare for the future by developing critical financial literacy skills.