September 26, 2016


IMLS Press Contact
Giuliana Bullard,

IMLS Announces $2.2 Million for New STEMeX Grant Initiative
Four Recipients Will Lead Projects Examining STEM Programs for Children and Families

Washington, DC—As part of a new effort to help create a foundation for increasing STEM learning in museum and library programs, the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) announced today that three universities and a museum will receive awards totaling $2,218,264 through its STEMeX grant initiative.

The program sought proposals for design-based research projects to study public programs delivered by STEM experts to children, ages 6-10, and their families in museum and library settings. Response from the field was overwhelming, with IMLS receiving 37 applications requesting $29 million.

“Libraries and museums have been incorporating STEM programming into their public offerings for many years. This initiative seeks to examine the best practices in the field for using STEM experts as part of that learning,” said IMLS Director Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew. “We are all eager to see the results of these projects. The researchers will help create a foundation for increasing STEM learning through museum and library programs that serve children and families from all backgrounds.”

The four recipients are:

  • High Desert Museum, Bend, Oregon. With its $251,547 grant, the museum and its partners, Oregon State University and the Deschutes Public Library, will examine how the processes of inquiry and problem solving are embedded in the life stories of experts and what specific story components best shape family conversations during inquiry-based activities. The partners will collect data to examine changing STEM attitudes, engagement, and perception of the expert.

  • George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia. The university will use its grant of $660,008 to identify design principles for projects that combine STEM experts and making activities. In partnership with the KID Museum and Montgomery County Public Libraries, university researchers will conduct several lines of inquiry, including an investigation into the use of linguistic tools to understand how families talk as they learn STEM.

  • Loyola University of Chicago, Illinois.  Using its grant of $717,816 the university, with partners, the Chicago Children’s Museum and the Evanston Public Library, will examine different approaches for engineering experts to incorporate objects and oral narratives into family STEM programs. The researchers will create a set of codes for practitioners to use while observing children and families during programs. The codes will help library and museum staff understand the STEM learning process by highlighting the ways children and families talk about key concepts.

  • Pennsylvania State University. The grant of $588,893 involves researchers from Penn State’s College of Education, the Schlow Centre Region Library, the Centre County Library, Discovery Space of Central Pennsylvania, and Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center. With STEM experts from Penn State University, local businesses, and a rural county agency, the partners will present family workshops covering a variety of personally relevant scientific themes. Research will show where and how museums and libraries can use STEM experts’ stories within programs; how to engage parents in their children’s learning; and how to position children as knowledge builders in STEM content areas.

Read the IMLS Blog on STEMeX for more details about projects and researchers involved, including information about research questions and methods.

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 and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.