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Museums and Libraries Awarded $1.2M to Build Learning Labs

Five museums and seven libraries are receiving a total of $1.2 million in funding to create multimedia, "21st century" learning labs at their sites, targeting teens.

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is providing the funding for the project, and is working directly with the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences. Each grantee will match the donated funds and will partner with local organizations that can enhance the quality of the labs.

The concept is modeled after the YOUMedia lab at the Chicago Public Library, which I wrote about in my story a few months ago on digital learning in out-of-school spaces. At YOUMedia, teens create multimedia content while having a safe place to go outside the school day. While each of the new labs will be different, all will aim to provide students "connected learning" experiences, or learning that bridges in- and out-of-school experiences through hands on, engaged, critical learning.

One of the grantees is the Science Museum of Virginia, in Richmond, as reported in a recent article. The museum will be launching an Out of School Time Youth STEM initiative with its grant that targets middle school students.

Other grantees include libraries and museums in: Dallas, Madison, Wis., Rochester, N.Y., Berkeley, Calif., Billings, Mont., Poughkeepsie, N.Y., Tucson, Ariz., Tuscaloosa, Ala., Pittsburgh; Lynn, Mass., and Las Vegas.

These grants are part of a larger initiative between the MacArthur Foundation and the institute that is supplying $4 million to museums and libraries nationally to help them improve resources and educational offerings for young people.

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