Apply to host a space, earth science or technology exhibition at your public library

For Immediate Release
Mon, 02/02/2015


Sarah Ostman
Communications Manager
ALA Public Programs Office

CHICAGO — The American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office, in collaboration with the Space Science Institute’s National Center for Interactive Learning, the Lunar and Planetary Institute and the Afterschool Alliance, invites public libraries to apply to host one of three science- and technology-focused traveling exhibitions.

The interactive exhibitions are designed to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) learning opportunities for all ages.

Each exhibition will travel to eight sites in 2016 and 2017. Roughly 800 square feet of space is required for optimal display. Applicants should apply for one of the following exhibitions:

  • Discover Space will teach audiences how stars and planetary systems form and the role that gravity plays in our universe. Visitors will learn the similarities and differences between Earth and Mars and be introduced to the tools scientists use to explore planets. The exhibit will examine asteroids and comets, look at the sun as a dynamic star, and reveal electric and magnetic changes that occur in space. Exhibit components will include a 42-inch touch table on which visitors can play a variety of astronomy simulation games; a collection of meteorite specimens, including a touchable, 10-pound meteorite and a solar monitoring station. A Tinkering Station will include various hands-on activities such as designing and building robotic devices using Lego bricks.
  • Discover Earth focuses on local earth science topics — such as weather, water cycle and ecosystem changes — as well as a global view of our changing planet. Visitors will learn how the global environment changes — and is changed by — the local environment of all exhibition hosts’ communities. Interactive, multimedia displays — such as an 18-inch-diameter Magic PlanetTM  globe and a 42-inch touch table — will allow visitors to interact with digital information in a dynamic way, encouraging new perspectives on our planet. The exhibit components will incorporate personal narratives, stunning graphics, video, animations, weather artifacts and animal specimens. A Tinkering Station will include various hands-on activities such as puzzles and art projects.
  • Discover Tech will help audiences understand the nature of 21st-century technology and engineering — both high- and low-tech — and their potential for helping to solve many of the world’s problems. Through interactive displays, the exhibition will illustrate that engineers are real people who, through a creative and collaborative design process, arrive at practical solutions to help solve society’s problems. Visitors will learn about the fundamental principles of energy, become aware of their own energy use, and understand the impact of engineering on communities worldwide. For example, using a hand-crank generator, they can produce electrical energy that can be used to power various types of light bulbs and learn which one uses the least energy to operate. Nearby, the Solar Power station will demonstrate the basic functioning of solar energy by allowing visitors to experiment with a light source and a large solar panel. A Tinkering Station will include various hands-on building activities, including an explanation of how gears work.

All grantees will receive:

  • one exhibition for a 12-week display period; shipping is free for grantees;
  • a cash grant of $1,000 to cover the cost of public programming related to the exhibition;
  • Discover teacher guide, family guide and hands-on activities for different age groups to help libraries develop programs and support classroom visits;
  • a two-day, in-person orientation for two exhibition coordinators per site;
  • periodic webinars on timely STEM topics to support programming in libraries;
  • promotional materials to aid in local outreach; and
  • access to the STAR_Net Online Community and a national network of STEM-oriented organizations.

Grantees will be required to plan public programs related to the exhibition and to participate in the STAR_Net Online Community throughout the exhibition period.

Full guidelines and an online application are available at The application deadline is April 7, 2015.

For libraries that do not have the space to display an 800-square-foot exhibition, ALA and its partners will accept applications for smaller versions of the Discover exhibitions in summer 2015. These smaller exhibitions — Explore Space, Explore Earth and Explore Tech — will require roughly 200 square feet of display space. Check in June 2015 for further details.

The Discover exhibitions are made possible through the support of the National Science Foundation. The exhibition and its educational support materials and outreach opportunities are part of the STAR (Science-Technology Activities and Resources) Library Education Network (STAR_Net), a hands-on learning program for libraries and their communities developed by the National Center for Interactive Learning at the Space Science Institute. For more information, visit

About ALA’s Public Programs Office

ALA’s Public Programs Office provides leadership, resources, training and networking opportunities that help thousands of librarians nationwide develop and host cultural programs for adult, young adult and family audiences. The mission of the ALA Public Programs Office is to promote cultural programming as an essential part of library service in all types of libraries. Projects include book and film discussion series, literary and cultural programs featuring authors and artists, professional development opportunities and traveling exhibitions. School, public, academic and special libraries nationwide benefit from the office’s programming initiatives.

About the National Center for Interactive Learning (NCIL) at the Space Science Institute (SSI)

The National Center for Interactive Learning at the Space Science Institute is dedicated to developing and implementing world-class projects and programs that improve formal and informal STEM education and the evaluation/research foundation on which they are based. NCIL is a national leader in developing STEM exhibitions for science centers, museums and public libraries as well as educational games and apps that can be deployed on websites, mobile devices (e.g. smartphones and tablets) and multi-touch tables. For more information about the NCIL, visit

About the Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI)

Through its Explore program and in partnership with the STAR_Net team, the Lunar and Planetary Institute has worked with librarians, state libraries and library associations for over 15 years to develop hands-on activities and train library professionals to use them in their programs. For more information about the Lunar and Planetary Institute, visit

About the Afterschool Alliance

The Afterschool Alliance is a nonprofit public awareness, research and advocacy organization that works to ensure all children have access to affordable, quality afterschool programs. The Afterschool Alliance is playing a major role in advancing afterschool STEM education opportunities for young people across the country. For more information, visit