Soo Hyeon Kim
Library and Information Science
Family Makers: Online Engineering Program for Underserved Children and Caregivers at Rural Libraries
The research team from Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) and University of Cincinnati—with eight rural libraries, rural engineers, and the Association for Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL)—seeks $499,941 from the National Leadership Grants program to conduct a three-year applied research project from 2022 to 2025. This study addresses NLG program goal 1 (build capacity for serving the education needs) and objective 1.1 (develop replicable library programs to support learning) by strengthening rural libraries’ capacities for outreach educational programming, online facilitation skill, and culturally-relevant engineering program for underserved children. This project responds to educational inequities of underserved rural children by developing a new outreach approach at rural libraries through online space and supporting rural library staff to become learning facilitators. Toward this, we investigate: How can rural libraries facilitate culturally-relevant engineering learning in online settings for underserved children (5-10 years) and caregivers? This research aims to understand specific challenges rural library staff and underserved families experience, identify effective approaches that they need for engaging in an online engineering program, and develop and disseminate ready-to-use, open-source digital content for an online engineering program that rural libraries can adopt to support underserved children and caregivers. As a result of our implementation research through two iterations across eight rural library settings, the primary outcome will be a culturally-relevant online engineering program—which will be entitled Family Makers—that includes curricula for six online engineering programs and digital resources, a list of materials (i.e., materials, hotspots, tablets), and webinars to support rural libraries across the nation to implement online engineering programs. We expect the project to enhance underserved children and caregivers’ engineering interest and practices. Rural library staff’s online facilitation skills and understanding of the engineering design thinking process will also be enhanced. In so doing, rural libraries will be positioned to help democratize engineering learning opportunities to socially marginalized communities.