Mount Prospect Library Pioneers Youth Science Program

Article excerpt

Byline: Submitted by Mount Prospect Public Library

A program developed at the Mount Prospect Public Library to generate early interest in math and science has proved so successful that it is being expanded into an eight-state region.

Through the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers-Chicago Section, a prototype project grant made it possible for librarians at the Mount Prospect Public Library to create "Science-to-Go" engineering kits and a Mad Scientist Club. The kits proved so popular with library patrons and the demand was so high that the project is being expanded throughout the Midwest.

"This is the classic example of taking something developed at the local level and making it available for replication on a much larger scale," said Michael Deering, director of development of the IEEE Development Office, during his recent visit to the Mount Prospect Public Library.

"The IEEE Foundation attempts to be a catalyst for good ideas to promote interest in science and engineering, and this is certainly one."

In June 2011, the IEEE Foundation awarded a grant from the IEEE Life Members Fund in the amount of $40,000 to the IEEE-Chicago Section for the science kits for Public Libraries Project to allow the Mount Prospect Library's prototype program to expand to 26 additional libraries in Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio and Wisconsin, as well as Illinois. Additional funding was provided by Chicago-based S&C Electric Company.

While the IEEE Foundation has programs for schools and museums, this is the group's first major foray into the public library setting.

"We felt that libraries are a central place in the community," said John Zulaski, MPPL board member and project director for IEEE-Chicago Section Science Kits for Public Libraries.

"These materials in the library are available to everyone in the community, including individual students, teachers, those involved in home schooling, youth leaders and parents. …