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Grants to Fund New 'Learning Labs' in Museums, Libraries

Twelve museums and libraries have won a national competition to develop "21st-century learning labs" that will use digital media to help young people "move beyond consuming content to making" it, according to a press release announcing the victors.

The announcement was made today by the federal Institute for Museum and Library Services and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which are jointly funding the initiative. The eight libraries and four museums each won a portion of $1.2 million in grants.

The lab competition was inspired by a teen space at the Chicago Public Library called YOUMedia, as well as innovations in science and technology centers, the press release explains.

"Digital media are profoundly influencing young people's lives, their behavior, their civic participation, and where and how they learn," said Robert Gallucci, the president of the MacArthur Foundation. "These innovative new teen labs are designed to provide young people with engaging and diverse opportunities for learning and exploration beyond the classroom."

Locations for the 12 new learning labs are: Allentown, Pa.; Columbia, Md.; Columbus, Ohio; Houston; Kansas City, Mo.; Nashville; New York City; Philadelphia; Portland, Ore.; San Francisco; St. Paul, Minn.; and Thornton, Colo.

Teenagers in the labs will use both digital and traditional media that promote creativity, critical thinking, and hands-on learning, the press release says. The labs will connect teens to mentors and peers, as well as provide access to information through online social networks so that they can pursue their interests more deeply.

The 12 winners were selected out of a pool of 98 applicants from 32 states. Application materials for a second round of grants will be available in the spring.

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