NASA resources are coming to western North Carolina, thanks to a new nationwide outreach program. Fontana Regional Library has been selected as one of only seventy-five libraries in the country to participate in the the NASA@ My Library initiative. The program is designed to increase and enhance science, technology, engineering, and math learning opportunities around the country, especially for geographic areas and populations currently underserved in STEM education.
As a NASA@ My Library partner, Fontana Regional Library will receive specialized staff training and support for public programs on STEM topics, as well as activity kits and materials for use in hands-on educational programs for the public. The partnership also makes NASA subject experts available to the Library as program presenters.
The partner libraries — selected through a competitive application process from a pool of more than 500 applicants — will participate in the 18-month project (Phase 1, from May 2017 to October 2018), with the opportunity to extend for an additional two-year period (Phase 2, through 2020).
The project is offered by the National Center for Interactive Learning (NCIL) at the Space Science Institute (SSI) in partnership with the American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office, the Pacific Science Center, Cornerstones of Science and the Education Development Center. Support comes from NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.
“Libraries are essentially ‘learning laboratories’,” said Kristen Erickson, director for science engagement and partnerships in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. “Providing additional tools and resources enables a broader impact for communities, and we’re pleased to connect with libraries across the country to share our science.”
NASA@ My Library strives to engage diverse communities in STEM learning, including communities that are underrepresented in STEM fields. African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, women, persons with disabilities, persons with low socioeconomic status, and persons from rural and geographically isolated communities are underrepresented in various fields of science and engineering across all levels — from K-12 to long-term workforce participation.
The educational support materials and outreach opportunities provided are part of the STAR Library Education Network (STAR_Net), a hands-on learning program for libraries and their communities.