July 14, 2011

Philadelphia Model for Museum/Library Collaborations Grows by Leaps and Bounds

10 Sites Chosen For National Expansion

PHILADELPHIA, July 14, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Franklin Institute and The Free Library of Philadelphia announced today that its successful LEAP into Science museum/library partnership will expand to 10 new sites in urban centers nationwide. The national effort kicks off with a LEAP into Science Expansion Conference July 18-20 in Philadelphia. Museums, libraries, school districts, universities, and a variety of other educational institutions from New York City to Salt Lake City have signed on, and twenty-five representatives from these organizations will gather at The Franklin Institute to learn best practices as they design and launch their own programs. Afterschool programs are a growing feature of informal education throughout the country, and thirty-one sites vied for the opportunity to launch their own LEAP into Science partnership programs.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20100924/TFILOGO)

LEAP into Science's program model, which engages children and families in science and literacy learning, combines the Institute's strengths in informal science programs and professional development with the Library's expertise in youth literacy programming and its existing citywide after-school program. The model's central goal is to demonstrate how museums, libraries, and other educational institutions across the country can partner together to enhance the capacity of underserved communities to engage children and families in science.

Since the program's start in 2007, LEAP into Science has been continually implemented in 32 library branches throughout the city of Philadelphia, impacting communities representing major racial and ethnic groups across a range of socioeconomic status. The Franklin Institute has trained approximately 60 library staff in facilitating these hands-on science and literacy workshops for children and families. Library staff has facilitated 313 workshops in local branches, impacting over 2200 children and adults across the city over these four years of the program to date.

Evaluation of the program showed that library staff who implemented LEAP into Science workshops, when compared with library staff who had not participated in the program, reported significantly higher interests in science, enjoyment of science teaching, beliefs of effectiveness in science teaching, and their ability to teach science as inquiry.

Funded by a $1.176 million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant in 2007, LEAP into Science aims to achieve the following impacts:

  • Increase science interest, understanding, and engagement by involving underserved families in cross-generational science experiences
  • Make science accessible to a diverse audience by bringing science activities into community settings and promoting the use of museums and libraries
  • Build community capacity and provide training and experience in informal science education to library afterschool staff and children's librarians
  • Disseminate effective resources and strategies for connecting science and literacy to expansion sites nationwide.

The Franklin Institute has a well-regarded portfolio of educational programs and research studies. A key element of the LEAP into Science expansion will be an in-depth research study. Dr. Dale McCreedy, Director of Gender and Family Learning and the Principal Investigator of the grant, will work with the Institute for Learning Innovation, a Maryland-based nonprofit research and evaluation organization in this effort. Dr. McCreedy notes, "The national dissemination of LEAP into Science offers us an opportunity to further study the effective integration and adaptation of our Philadelphia-based model. It combines science and children's literature in ways that are sustainable and impactful - bringing meaningful science learning opportunities to families and youth across the country."

About the Franklin Institute
Located in the heart of Philadelphia, The Franklin Institute is a renowned and innovative leader in the field of science and technology learning, as well as a dynamic center of activity. Pennsylvania's most visited museum, it is dedicated to creating a passion for learning about science by offering access to hands-on science education. Considered one of the great science centers in the nation and the world, The Franklin Institute is known for blockbuster exhibits, one-of-a-kind theatrical experiences, and cutting-edge community learning with national influence. All are aimed at explaining science in ways that impact people's lives. For more information, visit www.fi.edu.

About the Free Library of Philadelphia
The Free Library of Philadelphia system consists of 49 branches, three regional libraries, the Parkway Central Library, and the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. With more than 6 million visits annually and 950 public access computers, the Free Library is one of the most widely used educational and cultural institutions in Philadelphia. Visit freelibrary.org for more information.

The Free Library of Philadelphia's LEAP After School Program is a free, drop-in after school program that provides homework help and computer assistance services for elementary through high school students, and daily literacy enrichment activities for school-age children. For more information, call 215-686-5372 or visit the Library's website for online homework assistance available 7 days a week.

    LEAP into Science Expansion Site
     Partners include:

    COLORADO, Lafayette                  OREGON, Portland
    WOW Children's Museum                Multnomah County Library
                                          Oregon Health Career Center (AKA
    Lafayette Public Library              Science)
                                          Multnomah County Schools Uniting
                                         Service System (SUN)
    ILLINOIS, Rockford
    Discovery Center Museum
    Rockford Public School District #205 PENNSYLVANIA, York
                                          Martin Library/York County
                                          School District of the City of
                                          York College, Department of
    NEW JERSEY, Westfield                 Education
    New Jersey School-age Care Coalition
    New Jersey Department of Education,  SOUTH CAROLINA, Columbia
    Office of Student Support Services   EdVenture Children's Museum
                                          Richland County School District

    NEW MEXICO, Albuquerque              UTAH, Salt Lake City
    New Mexico Museum of Natural History
     & Science                           Natural History Museum of Utah
    Rio Rancho Public Library            Salt Lake City Public Library
    Albuquerque/Bernalillo County
     Libraries                           KUED (PBS Affiliate)

    NEW YORK, Queens, New York City
    Queens Library, Children's Library
     Discovery Cente
    New York Hall of Science

    OHIO, Cleveland
    Cuyahoga County Public Library
    Great Lakes Science Center
    Case Western Reserve University,
     Center for Science & Math Education

SOURCE The Franklin Institute