In the Spotlight


STEM Activities for… Earth Day and Summer Reading 2018

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Earth Day is on Sunday April 22. Need some ideas for Earth Day activities? The STEM Activity Clearinghouse is a great resource as is Star_Net.

Summer Reading 2018: Libraries Rock!

The Collaborative Summer Library Program’s Summer Reading theme is Libraries Rock! Listen to sounds of our Earth and beyond through

Sounds of Nature (Bird Calls)

Spooky Sounds from Across the Solar System

Relaxing Rain and Loud Thunder

Howler Monkeys in Belize

Birdsongs of Australia

Find the sounds that make you rock out to science!

NASA at my library Denver

NASA@ My Library Workshop in Denver, CO

By In the Spotlight, Latest News

A training workshop recently took place on February 28-March 1 in Denver for those partner libraries and state library agencies on the NASA@ My Library project. Cornerstones specifically trained the 75 partner libraries and 4 state library agency partners on a 4.5” reflector telescope that the libraries will receive in a future hands-on science kit built especially for this project. Cornerstones also worked closely with the state libraries to gain a better understanding about how they work with subject matter experts and on how science kits can reach public libraries around their state through a circulation system.


ALA2018 Conference

By In the Spotlight, Latest News
The NASA at My Library Team

NASA@My Library Project

By In the Spotlight, Latest News

NASA@My Library Project

The NASA at My Library Team

The NASA@My Library Team

NASA@My Library is five-year project working to help public libraries and state library agencies engage patrons with NASA and earth and space science related activities for increasing STEM education in communities. The project focuses on librarian professional development, partnership work with subject matter experts (SMEs), and science kits, activities, and events to engage mostly rural libraries. Currently in year two of this five-year project, Cornerstones of Science, as one of the co-investigators, has worked closely with the principle investigator, the National Center of Integrated Science through the Space Science Institute, and other partners to help build this national project to the phase where it now has a presence in almost every state.

Click here for the project description of NASA@My Library:

Click here for the most recent press release:

NASA at my library logo

STEM Saturday Event at Festus Public Library: A NASA @ My Library Pilot Project

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STEM Saturday Event

Fun with the Investigating the Insides activity and an Infrared Thermometer! Photo by Sarah Post

On Saturday January 28, 2017 approximately 300 people attended a three-hour STEM Saturday event at Festus Public Library in Festus, MO. The coordinated event was part of the NASA@My Library Pilot Project, which incorporates training librarians, seeking out experts to assist, using science tools and NASA-related activities, and community involvement all around earth and space science. A few days before the event, three librarians from Festus Public library went through a half-day training with Cornerstones of Science on the STEM tools and activities. On the day of the event, eight stations were set up around the library, six were facilitated and two were open play. One of the stations had a member of the St. Louis Astronomical Society presenting on the upcoming solar eclipse.
Stations included:

  • Microscopes and Meteorite/Meteor-Wrong activity
  • Green Screen and tablet for seeing yourself on Mars
  • Investigating the Insides planet activity with the infrared thermometer and magnetometer on the tablet
  • Code-a-pillar
  • Robot Turtle game
  • Code-and-Go Mouse
  • Circuit Maze game
  • Eclipse presentation and binoculars

The library and the community members who attended the event loved it. Many of the attendees also spent time at the library doing other things such as using the computers and checking out books related what they learned at the different stations. Because the event was so successful, the library plans to hold similar events throughout the year.

We encourage other libraries to hold their own STEM Saturday event with items and activities you already have at your library or look up activities on the STEM Activities Clearinghouse. You can also purchase some of the items mentioned above online.

ALA Application for the NASA @ My Library Project

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NASA My Library Program

An exciting opportunity for libraries around the nation will come about at the beginning of the New Year and your library could be one of them! American Library Association (ALA) will release an application in January/February 2017 for libraries to apply to be one of 100 libraries chosen to be part of the NASA@ My Library Project, which is four-year project full of exciting events, opportunities, resources, and professional development for library staff around space and earth science and specifically includes NASA related activities and professionals.

Keep a look out for the application or contact ALA about the NASA@ My Library application and see if your library qualifies. Each library chosen will receive an assortment of space and earth science kits and support, and will focus in on helping the underserved and underrepresented parts of their communities.

NASA@ My Library is a five-year cooperative agreement between NASA Science Mission Directorate (SMD) Sci. Ed., Space Science Institute’s National Center for Interactive Learning (NCIL), Cornerstones of Science, ALA, Education Development Center (EDC), and the Pacific Science Center’s Portal to the Public Network (PoPNet).


STEM Afterschool: It’s Time to Activate!

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A messaging toolkit to make the case for STEM in afterschool

As advocates for STEM programming, we’ve all experienced resistance. “I’m not a science person,” someone groans. “Science in a library?” They raise their eyebrows.

Whether you need to inspire a fellow librarian, convince a skeptical director, or market programs to your patrons, STEM Afterschool: It’s Time to Activate! can help. A clear, easy to read and use advocacy toolkit, this guide from the Frameworks Institute and Afterschool STEM Hub will help you ignite support and expand community STEM learning in your library. Bright, presentation-ready pages provide a comprehensive list of clear talking points and concise, relevant research and/or case studies for each; a Quick Start Campaign Guide offers easy framing strategies; a Q & A section answers common STEM program advocates’ concerns; and an annotated list of original studies and related resources helps STEM program advocates communicate more powerfully. There’s even a customizable page where librarians can insert an explanation of their own program.

Seventy-five percent of Nobel laureates in the sciences credit informal science education experiences for inspiring their lifelong passion, and study after study has shown that afterschool STEM programs engage and sustain interest in STEM fields, a professional sector predicted to grow 17% between 2008 and 2018. Yet a Nielsen study shows that children living in rural areas participate in afterschool STEM learning half as much as urban children. Just about every small town has a library, and by persuasively advocating for the expansion and support of library-facilitated informal STEM learning, we can help spark the next generation of STEM leaders.

Click here for the Messaging Tool Kit.

Don’t “Just Google It!”

By In the Spotlight

Some of us have gotten into a bad habit when researching topics on the internet. We just Google it! There are better ways of searching when looking for science activities to facilitate and/or develop for your library though. Good informal science resources may not make it to the top of Google search when you ‘just Google it’ (like when you search for other resources through a major search engine). It is sometimes hard to break the habit of going for the quick and easy way to search, but we should try because we know of many better sites to trust.
There are always a number of good linked resources in the Cornerstones of Science e-newsletters and on the website. Below are some other specific sites to use so that maybe you can have a few go-to places in the future instead of automatically Googling it. Whether you like to find that perfect activity that is already fully formed or you like to develop your own activities, but need to find inspiration and materials, there are many good places to look to help you facilitate or develop science programming.
A short list:

Cornerstones of Science- Science trunks

Science backpacks – Visit York Public Library, Camden Public Library, Curtis Memorial Library, and more

What is the Makers Movement?

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Every wanted to know what people are really talking about when the say “makers?” A Time news article from last year does a good job at getting to the heart of who and what makers are. They are anyone who makes something, and it can mean anything, which includes a lot of people because it doesn’t discriminate between methods or materials. Why the Maker Movement Is Important to America’s Future from article Tech Big Picture May 2014

“Do We Need Libraries?” – Great Discussion and Comments

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More often than not a comment section for on-line articles can send you in a fit of rage and can harden your view on certain topics. The NPR article entitled “Do We Need Libraries?” is different because it invites you into the conversation by having the question as the title of the article. The article itself is a short history on libraries (focused on Carnegie Libraries) and was published on May 5, 2015 by Linton Weeks through the NPR History Dept website blog. Learn a bit about the history of libraries, take notice of the reference to the Pittsfield Public Library in Maine (see image below), and then read though some of the comments. There are some wonderful sentiments, memories, ideas, and future plans that people have around their experience with libraries. This article (and the comments section) definitely deserves the spotlight!

Click here for the article


Carnegie Public Library in Pittsfield, Maine – Library of Congress image.