February 3, 2015


IMLS logo Exploratorium logo

IMLS Contact
Giuliana Bullard, 202-653-4799

Exploratorium Contact
Maria Zilberman, 415-528-4377

Washington, DC—The Institute of Museum and Library Services today announced an initiative with the Exploratorium, the San Francisco-based science museum with a history of innovation in maker education, to increase Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) programming for underserved students in sites nationwide as part of a nationwide enhancement of the U.S. Department of Education’s 21st Century Community Learning Center (CCLC) program.

The U.S. Department of Education’s 21st CCLC program is leading three interagency collaborations—with IMLS, NASA, and the National Park Service—that focus federal STEM investments in education to expand programs and benefit more underserved students in sites nationwide. Through out-of-school time in 21st CCLC programs, students will tackle real-world challenges with NASA engineers, work with park rangers to learn about natural sciences, and design and build things with staff from science and children’s museums and community youth programs.   

The 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, as the largest out-of-school program in the nation—serving more than 1.5 million students in 50 states—provides an unparalleled avenue for agencies to reach students in high-need schools who often have few or no opportunities to engage with STEM educational experiences or with STEM professionals.

The Exploratorium pilot project will introduce students at 25 21st CCLC sites in communities in California, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas to STEM-rich making and tinkering activities, building on the growing maker movement. The Exploratorium will support local networks of science museums and youth serving programs so they can work directly with the 21st CCLC sites. The project will provide sites with maker programming and resources, along with face-to-face and blended professional development resources focused on effective facilitation strategies for students of all backgrounds. Educational staff at the local museums will serve as maker-focused STEM experts who work directly with 21st CCLC staff and youth participants. The pilot will begin in the spring of 2015.

Making is part of a growing movement of hands-on, mentor-led learning programs that foster experimentation through design thinking and project-based learning that provides hands on STEM learning. The maker movement aligns with President Obama’s Educate to Innovate initiative and his call to “think about new and creative ways to engage young people in science and engineering [and] ... encourage young people to create and build and invent—to be makers of things, not just consumers of things.”

“With IMLS support, museums and libraries are stepping up to the plate to provide interactive and engaging STEM learning opportunities for students during out-of-school time,” said Acting IMLS Director Maura Marx. “We have provided more than $4.2 million in funding for maker projects in libraries and museums, and we know that these innovative spaces can strengthen critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, and engagement in STEM learning. We look forward to working closely with the Exploratorium on this important project.”

For more information about making, makerspaces and STEM learning at museums and libraries, see the IMLS Makerspaces talking points and the IMLS STEM talking points. For more information on the 21st CCLC program and the interagency collaboration visit http://www2.ed.gov/programs/21stcclc/index.html

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

About the Exploratorium
The Exploratorium is a playful learning laboratory of more than 600 interactive exhibits and experiences that ignite curiosity and transform the way people learn. Since 1969, the Exploratorium has influenced generations of entrepreneurs, artists, scientists, teachers, students, children, museum professionals and everyday doers, reaching nearly 180 million people annually from around the globe. For learn more, visit exploratorium.edu.