In 1998, the Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI), believing that libraries have the potential to play a vital role in bringing space science to everyone, developed Explore!, a program intended to bring space science resources into libraries. Recognizing the tremendous potential for making more direct connections with children through youth programs, LPI began collaborating with the State Library of Louisiana one year later. Together they designed an after-school science activity program for use in public libraries or other informal education settings, including museums and planetariums. Explore! was seen as a new and exciting way to partner public libraries, community entities, and scientists to bring space science into neighborhood libraries. The format was intended to be flexible-materials could be presented in myriad forms, short or long, including summer youth programs, family days, after-school programs, and festivals, to name just a few.
Funding from grants has broadened the Explore! program resources and extended its reach. A grant in 2001 from the National Science Foundation led to the development of new activity modules, additional trainings, and field testing of the products. Generous grants from NASA are supporting development of additional modules as well as workshops across more states, and they are broadening the reach of the Explore! program to include the exciting learning environments of after-school programs.
Explore! has evolved to include several space science topics and offers hands-on activities, crafts, suggestions for learning extensions, videos, presentations, and book and Internet resource lists to provide children with additional learning opportunities. What began with twenty librarians has grown to a community of more than 600 individuals in 22 states trained to share Explore! through libraries and after-school programs. We'd love to have you join us in bringing space science to children through informal education settings!
May 28, 2009