Learning Lab Grantees, FY 2012 and FY 2013

The following locations were selected as part a two-year national competition to plan and design 21st Century learning labs in libraries and museums around the country (sorted by state, then city).

University of Alabama/Alabama Museum of Natural History
Tuscaloosa, AL
Contact: Linda Watson

The University of Alabama Department of Geography and the Alabama Museum of Natural History are partnering to plan, design, and prototype the Discovery Learning Lab, which will give middle and high school-aged students access to "geek" mentors who will guide them in explorations of digital technologies not readily available at home or school. Goals for the project include creating formal partnerships with representatives from the entire spectrum of the local education community, planning and designing a space that will allow participants ways to connect with each other and their mentors, providing opportunities for autonomous explorations as well as structured programs, and exposing teens to STEM disciplines, skills, activities, and software at the lab and in a cyberspace environment.

Pima County Public Library
Tucson, AZ
Kenya Johnson


Pima County Public Library (PCPL) will plan three unique media spaces to serve middle and high school youth throughout the 9,189-square-mile expanse of Pima County. Serving urban, suburban, and rural communities, the library plans to address the diverse needs of Pima County youth through a mobile media lab, a youth media space in downtown Tucson, and an online community. The planning process will bring together a leadership team of partners with a deep history of youth media programming along with established teen groups that already meet at the library.

The Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, CA
Contact:Janet Noe


This project will support TechHive, an innovative learning space providing fun, interest-driven, youth-inspired design challenges. As with the Lawrence Hall of Science's popular Ingenuity Lab, the TechHive will encourage youth to apply an engineering design approach to creativity and problem solving. It will increase delivery of this type of experience by providing a new space where youth can develop and test a set of open-ended design challenges as starting points for inspiration and creativity using software, fabrication tools, STEM expertise, peer mentors, and social media.  All challenges will motivate participants to develop lengthier and more challenging engineering design projects that may involve any combination of digital sketching, computer programming, engineering design, fabrication, and digital storytelling. TechHive will leverage interest in new media to build young people’s 21st century STEM content knowledge, skills, and support career exploration.

San Francisco Public Library
San Francisco, CA

Contact: Michele Jeffers

The San Francisco Public Library along with its partners, Bay Area Video Coalition, California Academy of Sciences, and KQED, will begin planning for a new Teen Center/Learning Lab, which will include both physical spaces as well as a shared virtual platform. The planning process will engage numerous organizations and youth leaders in a series of workshops and pilot activities, creating a vision for participatory learning, a citywide model for collaboration, a conceptual design for a Teen Center, and a sustainability plan. By leveraging the expertise and resources of four leading organizations in the city, the library’s goal is to bridge the digital divide in San Francisco’s youth community; promote digital media literacy; convert digital media consumers to producers and media makers and innovators; develop leaders in civic engagement, social change, and community; create a sustainable partnership model; and prepare youth for the technology job market of the future.

Rangeview Library District and Anythink Libraries
Thornton, CO
Contact: Stacie Ledden

Rangeview Library District and its Anythink Libraries will support a digital learning lab  project at the Anythink Wright Farms branch in Thornton, Colorado. This location will become a model lab for a teen support center of digital creativity and communication. Anythink will partner with the University of Denver School of Library and Information Service to provide internships, and will extend existing partnerships with other community and business organizations to support this project. Anythink Wright Farms is close to two middle schools and one senior high school. Although 30 percent of the county’s population is under 18, there are limited services and support for teens in the County and few places to engage in creative projects and learning. Throughout the assessment and planning stages, the team will spend considerable time researching the community, the Chicago YOUmedia project, and informal learning.

City of Lynn, Massachusetts (Lynn Public Library)
Lynn, MA
Contact: Jamie Cerullli

More than 40 percent of Lynn’s teens are first generation Americans from homes where English is not the primary language. This project will integrate this population into the world of state-of-the-art digital media technology. The Lynn Public Library, and its partners the Center for Teaching Innovation at Salem State University, the Boys and Girls Club of Lynn, and the Russian Community Association of Massachusetts, will work with existing institutions in Lynn currently involved with teens.  The project guides teens through all the elements of the design process, including basic research, site visits to digital media centers, product testing, and budgeting.

Howard County Public Library
Columbia, MD
Contact: Christie Lassen

Howard County Public Library, in Columbia, Maryland, along with partners The Institute of Learning Innovation and MindGrub Technologies, LLC, will develop a Learning Lab for youth ages 11-18 at the Savage Branch library. Staff at the branch and system levels have identified the need for a dedicated space and activities to meet the increased usage of the library by teen customers, and to deliver effective, informal, learning involving digital media. The project will engage youth in the design, planning, activity selection, ongoing evaluation of the lab. Mentorship and expertise will be delivered by both youth and adults who will interact with teach and guide lab participants in using new and emerging media and technology, while emphasizing youth-directed interests. This youth-centered approach hopes to result in enhanced technical knowledge, strengthened independent learning skills, and foundations for the pursuit of higher education opportunities and jobs.

St. Paul Public Library
St. Paul, MN
Contact: Sheree Savage

The Saint Paul Learning Labs Project will enable Saint Paul Public Library and its partner, the Saint Paul Parks and Recreation Department, to create a comprehensive plan integrating best practices for digital engagement for youth. The project will include a shared facility, a mobile lab, and the online iRemix portal. The library will draw on the strengths of the extensive network of out-of-school-time organizations in Saint Paul to create learning objectives and measurement tools based on the "learner, contributor, navigator" framework for youth development currently in use across the city. In the city of Saint Paul, 25% of the population is under 18, 72% of this student population qualify for free or reduced lunches and 36% are English language learners. These new spaces will help provide safe, resource rich environments where youth, especially "at risk" urban youth, can "hang out, mess around, and geek out" on projects that help them gain 21st century skills.

Kansas City Public Library
Kansas City, MO

Contact: Henry Fortunato

The Kansas City Public Library, in Missouri, in partnership with Science City at Union Station, will plan and design the components for a Learning Lab to be housed at Union Station and a mobile outreach component that will serve teens throughout the metro area. Throughout the process, the partners will establish a leadership planning team composed of key staff from the two institutions, a project coordinator, teen leaders, and advisory members from the community. Middle school and high school youth in urban areas of Kansas City face a drop-out rate of 48% and struggle with issues of poverty and violence. This program will assist teens to create positive personal stories and become leaders through the opportunity to serve as peer mentors, engage in the planning and implementation of the Learning Lab, and receive valuable learning experiences from adult mentors.

Parmly Billings Library Foundation, Inc.
Billings, MT
Contact: Leslie Modrow


The Parmly Billings Library (PBL), in partnership with Billings School District 2, will establish the first Learning Lab in Montana. The Learning Lab’s target audience will be the at-risk teens on the large American Indian reservations (Crow and Northern Cheyenne) adjacent Billings, where the high school dropout rate is nearly 58 percent. Weaving Montana TALES (Teaching and Learning Empowers Students) will be created by and for teens with the assistance from key staff members, which will include an area integration specialist, a Homeless Education Liaison, and the Director of Indian Education.

Las Vegas-Clark County Library District
Las Vegas, NV
Contact: Pat Marvel


The Las Vegas-Clark County Library District, will partner with the city of Las Vegas, Henderson District Public Libraries, Discovery Children’s Museum, the Nevada Natural History Museum, and the University of Nevada Las Vegas Department of Journalism and Media Studies to plan a Youth Digital Learning Lab. The project, which will be designed and vetted with youth input and community feedback, will feature a network of digital learning opportunities for middle and high school youths. The learning opportunities will reflect best practices in mentor development, youth development, and civic engagement. The project will help position libraries as hubs and catalysts for youth digital literacy and help make youths central to local economic activity and vitality.

New York Hall of Science (NYSCI)
New York, NY

Contact: Dan Wempa

The New York Hall of Science in Queens, New York, will plan and prototype a youth-centered, community-engaged Digital Making program within the museum’s new Cognizant Maker Space. Digital Making is a program that will empower diverse groups of middle- and high-school youth to investigate and communicate science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) topics through digital media including sound, video, and games. The programs will be generated by museum staff, Makers in the community, and community organizations. The target population for this project is the museum’s local Queens neighborhood, which includes vibrant communities of first- and second-generation Americans. The Digital Making program hopes to ensure these students have the clearest possible pathway to futures in the sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics, and can participate as fully informed citizens.

Poughkeepsie Public Library District
Poughkeepsie, NY
Contact:Gareth Davies
845.485.3445 x3314


The Poughkeepsie Public Library District’s MediaLab will be a physical and online space where youth will get together to engage with media technology and with adult mentors in order to explore their interests and improve their skills. The physical space will be a dedicated Teen Room in the main library where youth currently gather to play electronic games, find books and DVDs, and use computers. The library district will partner with the Children's Media Project, IBM, and a group of teen advisors to plan and design a space and a selection of activities. Teens will also use a social networking space to post their projects, exchange ideas, and share their ideas with teens in other communities. Because of the main library’s proximity to the library system offices, the project offers an excellent opportunity to serve as a pilot program that can eventually serve a regional need.

Rochester Public Library
Rochester, NY
Contact:Ned Davis

Rochester Public Library’s Cypher Productions @ Teen Central will provide an inviting, collaborative, mentored space for youth aged 13-18 to explore the art and science of video and animation production. This will give underserved youth new ways of engaging with important 21st century literacy practices. Instructors will be experienced youth and professional filmmakers, media artists, musicians, and animators who will teach through hands-on mini-workshops and informal guided participation. The project will help bridge the digital divide faced by many urban youth through a strong partnership among the public library; Nazareth College; and ArtPeace, a community-based arts/technology/entrepreneurship group.

Columbus Metropolitan Library
Columbus, OH

Contact: Kim Snell

The Columbus Metropolitan Library, in partnership with the Columbus Museum of Art, Franklin County Historical Society (Center of Science and Industry), WOSU Public Media, and Wexner Center for the Arts, will plan and develop a system of teen learning labs across the city of Columbus, Ohio. The labs will use 21st century digital media tools to enhance learning and create a collaborative community of teens. The partners will be guided in their efforts by a teen design group to create a connected system of opportunities for teens across the city, using existing or planned learning lab spaces at each of the partner organizations. The individual assets of each organization will be used to provide Columbus teens with a more coordinated system of lab space and programming that provides access to a wide variety of technological experiences and facilitate collaboration across programs and neighborhoods.

Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI)
Portland, OR

Contact: Andrea Middleton

The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland, OR, in partnership with the Multnomah County Library, will convene expert advisors, community advocates, and a teen advisory council in an in-depth planning and design process for the implementation of a hands-on Community Maker Center. Once completed, the space will be a resource youth to gain the 21st century skills needed to participate in a productive civic life. A Teen Advisory Council will inform and collaborate on plans for the design and operation of the Maker Center. In response to a near 20% drop-out rate in Portland Public Schools, the Maker Center will align with Ninth Grade Counts, an effort to connect youth entering grade nine with the support they need to begin high school on the right track. Local youth will have opportunities to engage in creative activities, be valued as resources, and work with adult role models. Project partners include Ninth Grade Counts, Multnomah Youth Commission, FIRST (mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills), TechShop and Oregon Mentors.

Da Vinci Discovery Center of Science and Technology
Allentown, PA

Contact: Dennis Zehner
484.664.1002 x112

The Da Vinci Discovery Center of Science and Technology in Allentown, Pennsylvania, will partner with the Allentown Public Library to create a virtual studio environment for youth engaged in digital media and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) activities. Participation in the virtual environment will be supported by face-to-face outreach programs. Tools for the creation of digital content will be available on loan from the library. The Virtual Studio Project will be governed by youth and staff together and much of the Learning Lab infrastructure will be created by the participants. Participants will be drawn from grades 8-12 in Allentown City schools and rural schools of Lehigh and Carbon Counties. Students in this economically distressed area generally lack strong school media programs or other supports for media learning. The Virtual Studio will establish an ongoing opportunity for learning, creativity, and self-expression.

Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation (Free Library of Philadelphia)
Philadelphia, PA

Contact: Sandy Horrocks

The Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation will work with a variety of local organizations to develop a comprehensive plan for a digital media Learning Lab in the new Parkway Central Library. The lab design will be based on current research, teen focus groups, input from local partners, expert consultants, and staff experience. The collaborative planning process will emphasize the library’s role as a community resource and support the library’s many partnerships with local organizations that provide programming and services to teens. In Philadelphia, 33% of youth under the age of 18 live below the poverty level and 48% of city residents do not have access to the internet at home. The Learning Lab will directly address youth needs for free, convenient access to new technologies, supportive mentors, and engaging, interest-driven programming.

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, PA
Contact:Suzanne Thinnes


The Labs @ Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (CLP) is a teen-driven, interest-based digital learning environment designed to serve teens in and around the city of Pittsburgh. The Labs @ CLP will expand the library’s teen services programming by providing teens with opportunities to create and share digital media using free library resources in four strategically placed learning labs throughout the city. With the help of key community partners--including Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University's Entertainment Technology Center, University of Pittsburgh School of Library and Information Science, Filmmakers at the Center (Pittsburgh Filmmakers), Hip-Hop on LOCK, Saturday Light Brigade (Radio), Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute, and HackPittsburg.org—the project will reach teens in underserved parts of the city.

Nashville Public Library Foundation
Nashville, TN

Contact: Tari Hughes

Nashville Public Library, in Tennessee, will begin planning a Learning Lab to support a city-wide focus on youth and move youth beyond exposure and initial engagement with media, information, and technologies to activities of production, learning, and expertise-building. The planning team will be joined by teen constituents and volunteers, teen T.O.T.A.L. (Totally Outstanding Teen Advocates For The Library) staff, and professionals from Nashville’s vibrant creative community to ensure that both the environment and offerings of the learning lab align with current research on teen learning and engage middle- and high-school teens in meaningful, relevant ways. The library will use the Youth Speaks Nashville program as a model for effective engagement.

Dallas Museum of Art
Dallas, TX
Contact:Nicole Stutzman


The Dallas Museum of Art (DMA), in partnership with the Museum of Nature and Science (MNS), will plan and design a Learning Lab focused on the intersections of science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) learning. The proposed lab will allow youth to explore how the experimental work of artists and scientists overlap and encourage creativity and communication skills.  The DMA and the MNS will share equal responsibility for staffing the Learning Lab, with a "home base" location at the DMA’s Tech Lab. As the project develops, a satellite location at the MNS may be added.

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Houston, TX

Contact: Mary Haus

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, will plan and design hang@mfah: Houston.Art.New.Generation. Hang@MFAH will be a place where young people can learn about themselves, digital media, and art in an out-of-school museum setting, with a mentor and community of peers. The lab’s primary audience will be from the Houston Independent School District—the largest public school district in Texas and the seventh-largest in the United States, serving more than 47,000 students, nearly 80% of who are considered economically disadvantaged and 63% considered "at-risk." The project team will combine best practices in the field of museum and technology education to help bridge the digital divide. The museum will work with the Glassell Junior School (Part of the Glassell School of Art) in this endeavor.

Science Museum of Virginia Foundation
Richmond, VA
Contact:Judy Harris

The Science Museum of Virginia will integrate its Innovation Studio digital media hub with a network of out-of-school time STEM Outposts—for example, Boys & Girls Clubs, 4-H programs, and 21st Century Community Learning Centers. Funding will support increases and improvements in staff and technology. It will better enable youth to learn problem solving, communications, and global awareness. The project equips volunteer mentors to facilitate learning around a series of STEM challenges. It will also result in a sustainable operating plan that fully engages the museum, youth participants, out-of-school time partners, and the broader community in a dynamic connected learning network.

Madison Children’s Museum
Madison, WI
Contact:Cathy Christensen


Madison Children’s Museum’s KidShare project creates digitally based experiences to promote scientific and cultural literacy for middle school and high school audiences. KidShare includes a Mobile Media Lab that will travel into neighborhoods and help youth create digital stories; a Digital Design Workshop where youth can "hang out, mess around, and geek out"; and Neighborhood Lens, a prototype digital interactive exhibit focusing on local stories, collected and designed by children, including a website for off-site engagement. MCM will collaborate with the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Filament Games. The project is being developed in collaboration with the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County, and youth will be involved in every aspect of its planning and design.