Pushing the Limits: Building Capacity to Enhance Public Understanding of Math and Science Through Rural Libraries

September 15th, 2010 - August 31st, 2015 | PROJECT

This project is intended to develop a model for STEM education through local libraries. There are several unique features in this endeavor. The model is being aimed at rural libraries and adult residents that are geographically remote from typical venues such as museums, zoos, and science centers. According to the 2000 census, there are 50 million individuals in this designation and the size of the group is increasing and becoming more diverse. Efforts to impact diverse audiences who are economically disadvantaged will be part of the plan. In many rural locations there are few community venues, but libraries are often present. The American Library Association and the Association Rural and Small Libraries have begun the reinvention of these libraries so they can become more attuned to the communities in which they are apart. Thus, this project is an effort to find new ways of communicating STEM concepts to a reasonably large underserved group. The design is to derive a "unit of knowledge enhancement" (some portion of Climate Change, for example) through a hybrid combination of book-club and scientific cafe further augmented with videos and web materials. Another part of the design is to enhance the base STEM knowledge of library staff and to associate the knowledge unit with an individual who has the specific STEM topic knowledge for a specific unit. Considerable effort shall be expended in developing the models for staff knowledge enhancement with a progressive number of librarians in training from 8 to 20 to 135. To build the content library model, five units of knowledge will be devised and circulated to participating libraries. Evaluation of the project includes front end, formative and summative by the Goodman Research Group. In addition to the "units of knowledge enhancement," the major results will be the model on how best to relate and educate citizens in rural environments and how to educate the library staff.

Project Website(s)

(no project website provided)

Project Products

Pushing the Limits: Building Capacity to Enhance Public Understanding of Math and Science Through Rural Libraries presentation
Pushing the Limits Building Capacity to Enhance Public Understanding of Math and Science through Rural Libraries Front-End Evaluation Report
Pushing the Limits: Second Formative Evaluation
Pushing the Limits: Summative Evaluation

Team Members

Daniel Rockmore, Principal Investigator, Dartmouth College
Marcelo Gleiser, Co-Principal Investigator, Dartmouth College
Marion Rice, Former Principal Investigator, Dawson Media Group
John H Falk, Co-Principal Investigator, Oregon State University
Alfred Bennett, Co-Principal Investigator
Meighan Maloney, Co-Principal Investigator, Dawson Media Group


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: ISE/AISL
Award Number: 1010577
Funding Amount: 2508018


Access and Inclusion: Rural
Audience: Adults | Educators | Teachers | General Public | Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: Education and learning science | Engineering | General STEM | Mathematics | Technology
Resource Type: Project Descriptions
Environment Type: Library Programs | Public Programs