As the school year is about to begin, we thought to shine a light on a great program that has enriched many children’s lives. It’s the Science Kits for Public Libraries (SKPL), a project of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) – Chicago Section. Today, we’d like to give the program a reintroduction to bring awareness once again to this wonderful project that many children in our community are enjoying.
SKPL was the brainchild of John Zulaski, a long time IEEE Senior Life member who now serves as the Director of the SKPL program which began in 2009.
The Mission of the SKPL is to inspire and engage children in a lifelong pursuit of scientific discovery. Through this program, children can check out a science kit from participating public libraries just like a book.
These science kit collections provide children the opportunity to explore science more in-depth in their own home, outside the traditional classroom with hands-on activities. The program offers extra curricular activities that are related to science, engineering and math, and are also, for those who otherwise may not have the opportunity to explore STEM outside the school setting.
The program began as an idea of John’s and the Mount Prospect Public Library (MPPL) to circulate interesting and fun science-related kits with a strong emphasis on supporting IEEE’s mission of promoting engineering and science interest in young children.
The original project began with a collection of seven kits that were made possible with the grant from IEEE Chicago Fund and had electrical and engineering themes. According to Mary Smith, Head of Youth Services and Kerry Dennison, Youth Librarian for MPPL, the overwhelming success and enthusiasm for these kits has encouraged them to grow this program even more and now, it has become a full-blown science section for the library with many more science kits in its collection. If you had the opportunity to have visited the MPPL, you’d have noticed that it’s one of the more popular parts of their facility.
We’re excited that after almost seven years, the current SKPL program has grown to supporting “take-home” science kits in 15 local public libraries in the greater Chicago area, with 6 branches of the Chicago Public Library.
Currently, the public libraries that have been funded by the SKPL project are:
- Mount Prospect Public Library
- Crystal Lake Public Library
- Frankfort Public Library District
- Cary Area Public Library
- Orland Park Public Library
- Schaumburg Public Library
- Helen Plum Memorial Public Library District
- Hodgkins Public Library
- Villa Park Public Library
- Bradley Public Library District
- Cook Memorial Public Library District
- Alsip-Merrionette Park Public Library
- Glenside Public Library
- Blue Island Public Library
- Chicago Public Library Branch Locations:
- Brighton Park
- Greater Grand Crossing
- Rogers Park
- South Shore
Through the generosity of corporations and individuals who donated to the IEEE Chicago Fund, SKPL is able to award grants to these libraries who have submitted grant applications with worthwhile science kits ideas.
Every year, during Fall, SKPL calls for submission of new applications from local libraries. We hope to grow this program even further so more libraries have these science kits available. Stay tuned for that announcement coming in September.
Finally, we’re excited that we recently launched the official Facebook page for SKPL. We’d love for you to like our page and be kept updated about our community. We’ll be keeping you posted with all the great things that are happening. Please join in on our conversations, share within your circles and spread the good word to let everyone learn about this awesome program.
Interested in supporting this great program? Click >>here to provide your financial support. Our goal is to have every public library in Illinois be outfitted with these wonderful science kits for their children.
Let us know your thoughts about this program and how we may grow it even more by leaving a comment below! We’d love to hear from you.