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STEM Challenge Yo’Self

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STEM Challenge Yo’Self

San Francisco Public Library, Calif.

Education - Birth thru Teens | 2020

Innovation Summary

STEM Challenge Yo’Self is a new webseries developed for budding scientists and engineers to practice scientific methods using common household items from the safety of their screens. It aired weekly during Summer Stride. Local Teen Interns also created 29 original challenges as part of their leadership cohort for a teen takeover the final week.

Problem Statement

According to the National Summer Learning Association, many students lose two months of mathematical skills and two to three months of reading skills every summer. In May we unplanned 1,000 learning events due to shelter-in-place. We quickly rebuilt our Summer Stride program with weekly STEM programs online. A tiny group of Youth Librarians partnered to videotape a nine-part series. This entire project was developed, designed and produced within three weeks to meet the needs of an unprecedented Summer Stride.


SFPL exercised a growth mindset to redesign and reintroduce youth programming on the screen. Previous summers had 290 STEM events, each crafted by neighborhood librarians. This year, we pivoted with a smaller team to build STEM offerings for the entire city. It was a professional development experience for our staff and for Teen Interns. The result was a popular "STEM-tastic" series that was easily findable on our social media channels, YouTube playlist and website and ultimately more accessible for all.


Virtual programing is a new chapter in SFPL’s diverse offerings. STEM Challenge Yo’Self quickly earned loyal followers with 7,000 views and counting. Program partners such as the YMCA incorporated it into their weekly offerings to provide youth with active learning experience. Teen Interns studied the series to create original STEM offerings for a Teen TakeOver event and monthlong series in October with the Bay Area Science Festival. To our delight, our programs became more accessible for our community and beyond.