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Rev Up the Fun Activity Highlight: Leaf Rubbings

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Helping families with science activities at home is at the heart of Rev Up the Fun. The newest activity on the website helps people learn about leaves by creating a beautiful leaf picture also known as a rubbing. Many people have great memories of doing “rubbings” of different things when they were young. Exciting and memorable activities help us learn and we think you and your family will love this easy and engaging activity that includes art and science.

Make a rubbing (picture) of leaf by placing a blank piece of paper over the leaf, hold the paper in place with one hand, hold the flat side of a crayon with the other hand, and rub the crayon over the sheet to see the details of the leaf come through as a drawing of the leaf. Find the activity here and watch the companion video too

Institute of Museum and Library Services logo

Building Equitable Library Services that Empower Public Access and Community Resilience

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Cornerstones of Science was recently awarded a competitive two-year federal grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) totaling close to $250,000. The funds will assist state and public libraries to develop equitable library services to empower new users of the library to have access to relevant science-based community information they can use to take action that improves the quality of their lives.

Chris Goodwin, President of Cornerstones said, “This award of competitive funding really demonstrates the importance of Cornerstones’ role in bringing science experiences to people that spark curiosity and foster a deeper connection to the world around us. Over the next two years, we will work in partnership with science providers, academia, and libraries (both public and state library agencies) throughout the country. We will build on our 21-year history that began in the Brunswick Public Library and was supported by our founder Lee Grodzins. Nearly 130 grant proposals were submitted and ours was one of the 39 that was funded. Representative Chellie Pingree even called and congratulated us on this award.”

“There is strong evidence that the issues our communities must address, such as public health, safe drinking water, food insecurity, and our changing climates really affect our most vulnerable, disadvantaged populations,” said Cynthia Randall, Executive Director of Cornerstones. For this project, Cornerstones is collaborating with state and public libraries of Maryland, Idaho and Connecticut, the University of Missouri’s School of Information Science & Learning Technologies, the Institute for Learning Innovation, the National League of Cities, and OCLC/WebJunction, as well as a diverse panel of experts in equity and social justice, informal science learning, and library professions.

Gail Hurley of the Connecticut State Library believes that, “to accomplish significant long-term change within a library, its leaders must be involved. These leaders shape public library priorities. They provide equitable library services and broaden access to critical science-based community resources. Further, they work in partnership with their local governments and community leaders.”

About the funding agency

This grant is made possible by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS Grant #RE-250085-OLS-21). Their mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. To learn more, visit

The views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed here do not necessarily represent those of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

YouTube Page Provides How-To Videos and Science Activities

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Many of us are watching and using short videos for both entertainment and education. This trend has been prominent for a while now and will continue. Over the years, Cornerstones has produced some short videos to help library staff and other community organizations with learning to use science tools, do science activities, and to learn about the STEM experiences (STEM Stories) of public library staff. We have also archived our webinars so these hour-long resource rich videos can be watched anytime.

The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity cover

Book Recommendation: The Dawn of Everything

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The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity coverWe have a new book recommendation for you:

The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity

by David Graeber and David Wengrow

Published November 9, 2021, by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux

Re-imagining human history through rigorous archaeological and anthropological research! Archeological evidence brings so much more to the story of us and helps fill in the gaps (an maybe make a few turns) from what has been written in history. This new book is a fascinating read!

screenshot from How to Build Science Interest Among Library Patrons in Seven Steps: Interest Development Strategies in Public Libraries

Building Interest in Science at the Library

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New Videos Aim to Help Librarians Build Interest in Science

Libraries are perfect places for helping people find information they are looking for, but how do people use the library to realize new interests? Watch a new video, How to Build Science Interest Among Library Patrons in Seven Steps: Interest Development Strategies in Public Libraries, produced by Cornerstones of Science that focuses on a specific way libraries can help patrons gain new and unrealized interests.

Helping patrons in this way can bring people back to a library more often as they seek additional information on a theme. This can ultimately attract more people to library programs and events based on a topic or associated themes. The video and the recently published research article “Exploring How Public Libraries Can Build Situational Interest in Science” in the April 7, 2021 peer-reviewed journal, Journal for Library Administration, demonstrate the psychology of interest and the pilot research project that was conducted as part of the NASA@ My Library project from 2019-2020 through Cornerstones of Science, Space Science Institute’s National Center for Interactive Learning, Northern Illinois University, Tom Green County Public Library in San Angelo, TX, Show Low Public Library in AZ, and the Gwinnett County Public Library Lawrenceville Branch in GA.

Visit the Cornerstones of Science YouTube page for more how-to videos, STEM stories from librarians, archived librarian training webinars, and more.

front page of the Rev Up the Fun website

Rev Up the Fun Website Is Expanding!

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Get Ready for Summer with Rev Up The Fun, an online STEM inventory for kids is expanding, thanks to great interest, and is a wonderful tool for keeping students engaged in learning over the summer months ahead. The REV Up The Fun website houses a large and growing collection of online science activities, videos, and resources for kids aged 6-12 on the topics of space, energy, environment, and wellness. “These science-based activities were designed to be done at home using simple household materials, and they’re downloadable for free,” said Sarah Post, Program and Library Support Manager at Cornerstones of Science, which helped develop the new program.

With limited in-person events and programs due to COVID, these types of well-designed online STEM activities are needed more than ever, Post noted.

What’s New

New companion videos are being added on a regular basis, and a brand new series with hands-on environmental activities will start showing up in July. All the videos are shot by Maine AmeriCorps volunteers who are working with Maine Campus Compact, Cornerstones of Science, and other service projects in Maine.

“The videos are extremely well done and there’s a ‘cool factor’ for kids because the AmeriCorps volunteers are young and very approachable,” said Post.

The Rev Up The Fun science-based activities are designed to encourage at-home learning and to combat the challenge of “summer slide” and other learning losses that occur during this past year.

For the latest new video, see the new activity: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. is available for free to families across the US. In Maine, Cornerstones and Maine Campus Compact are working with a few Maine Department of Education Summer Food Distribution sites to distribute the activity sheet (seen on the website) in printed form along with in-person demonstrations of the activities at a few of the sites.

Interest in the Night Sky is Skyrocketing

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Cornerstones offers two inviting ways for library patrons to view the night sky

If COVID taught us anything at all, it was that people are clamoring to get outside. And they are finding all sorts of way to do it. Even at night.

Over the last 12 months, public interest in telescopes, astronomy, and the night sky has surged beyond recognition. According to a recent article in Sky & Telescope Magazine, telescope manufacturers are reporting an unprecedented surge in sales, with some manufacturers seeing 60 to 400 percent increases over last year.

According to Sarah Post, Program and Library Support Manager at Cornerstones of Science, sales of library telescopes picked up late last fall during COVID and have remained strong right through the spring. “We now have over 500 telescopes in 32 states across America, and interest continues to build,” says Post, noting that a new online map shows the wide distribution of Cornerstones telescopes across the country and offers an easy way to purchase a telescope online.

Since not every family has the financial resources or the ability to buy their own telescope, the ultimate goal of the Cornerstones Library Telescope Program is to allow library patrons to check out a telescope, just as they would a book, and to take that telescope home and explore the wonders of the night sky. Not only that, but there are also family-friendly Night Sky Binocular Backpack Kits that can offer library patrons hours of night sky enjoyment.

Night Sky Binocular Backpack with books

Night Sky Binocular Packpack with additional books

The Night Sky Backpack Kits Now Available

The Night Sky Binocular Backpack Kits are an easy and affordable STEM item for libraries to circulate, and are designed to keep patrons interested in space science for years to come. The kits, developed by Cornerstones, come in a handy bright-orange backpack and they are one in a collection of STEM items available on the Cornerstones website.

Included in The Night Sky Backpack Kit:

  • a pair of 7×50 Celestron binoculars
  • a constellation finder
  • a switchable white- and red-light headlamp
  • Two books: Audubon Pocket Constellation Guide and The Secret Galaxy by Fran Hodgkins
  • Short quick start guides on how to use the items in the backpack
  • Everything fits nicely into a bright orange backpack.

Bottom Line

Your library can be a great resource for the surging demand in resources for telescopes and night sky viewing. If your library is looking for a few great STEM related items to excite your library patrons, visit the cornerstones website or contact Sarah Post by emailing:

CoS Welcomes Hal Grodzins to our Board

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Hal Grodzins photoWe are excited to bring on our newest Cornerstones of Science board member, Hal Grodzins, son of CoS Founder, Lee Grodzins.

Hal Grodzins is Chief Development Officer and a Director of Sabia, Inc., a global leader in the manufacturing and marketing of Prompt Gamma Neutron Activation Analysis (PGNAA) technology. A longtime instrumentation business executive, Mr. Grodzins has decades of experience in all aspects of business management, including executive management, M&A, strategic planning, technology development and global business development.

Prior to joining Sabia, Mr. Grodzins was Cofounder, Chairman, President and CEO of Viken Detection Corporation, a pioneer in homeland security x-ray imaging and analytical devices; former Chairman, President and CEO of Niton Corp., the company that invented handheld x-ray instrumentation; former Managing Director of Niton Europe GmbH and Niton Asia Ltd.; former Executive Consultant to the CEO of the Rigaku Group of Companies; Founder of Rigaku Analytical Devices, Inc.; and former Vice President of Research and Development of the instrumentation division of Thermo Fisher Scientific. Prior to joining the instrumentation industry, Mr. Grodzins worked as bond trader–broker at a boutique Wall Street firm, Stoever Glass & Co. Mr. Grodzins is former Chairman of the Fulcrum Foundation and a former director of several private companies. He is the inventor and co–inventor of patents in x-ray fluorescence and optical emission spectroscopy; winner of the 2003 R&D 100 Award as principal designer of Niton’s XLt Series XRF analyzers; and winner of national awards for sales and product presentation.

Mr. Grodzins resides in Arlington, Massachusetts.

To read more about all of our Board members, check out our Board of Directors page.

Safe and Sane Star Party Flyer illuminated by glow stick

How Partnerships Can Open the Night Sky – Even During a Pandemic

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Many People Don’t Get to Know the Night Sky at All — They Never Look at It.

When Cornerstones of Science decided to pilot a mid-pandemic in-person “Safe and Sane Star Party™” for the public, we knew we needed a partner who could add expertise and strong community connection, so we contacted our regional astronomer’s club. Astronomy clubs are expert at putting on night sky events, and they did not disappoint. Astronomy enthusiast James Shields and Rob Burgess presented a no-touch, distanced, and COVID-safe event on a dark evening at a local land trust property. Shields and Burgess even brought a large Dobsonian telescope and binoculars on a stand to show different setups for viewing the night sky.

James Shields and friends with his Dobsonian telescope

James Shields (center) offers a sidewalk astronomy talk with his huge Dobsonian Telescope, which was given to him by his father. Shields’ interest in astronomy was reawakened after he checked out a Cornerstones of Science telescope from his local library.

“My obsession for astronomy isn’t even the astronomy,” admits Shields, who works by day as a statistician and moonlights by night as an astronomy buff. “Astronomy is all about being out under the night sky, getting to know the constellations, and relaxing.”

As a board member of Southern Maine Astronomers, Shields has been tapped many times to be part of stargazing laser shows and events for local libraries, organizations, museums and retailers. “When you consider that something like three-quarters of people in the world never see the Milky Way, that’s pretty shocking,” says Shields. Yet, he acknowledges that there’s growing interest in night sky events and telescope manufacturers have experienced brisk sales as a result of the pandemic.

How a Library Telescope Opened a Door

Shields’ interest in astronomy was re-awakened after borrowing a Cornerstones of Science telescope from his local library. “I was always interested in astronomy but when my local library started loaning telescopes, I was the first in line,” he says. After that, his family checked out the telescope every chance they could.

He noticed that the library telescope was in high demand and librarians were asking for advice about what to look for. Shields got involved and eventually joined his local astronomy club. Today, he likens stargazing to bird watching. “Birdwatchers know the birds are out there and they want to check things off their list; I love to check deep sky objects off my list,” laughs Shields, “and I love sharing that experience with others.”

Making Memories While Learning About the Universe

Shields has more than a few great memories from his last three years as a committed stargazer. These include seeing the Perseid meteor shower and the Andromeda Galaxy. One particular evening in Acadia National Park was also very special. He attended a laser event put on by the Park Rangers who walked visitors through the constellations and the mythology behind their names and helped everyone find the different constellations. “It was spectacular,” admits Shields.

Bottom Line

Libraries can serve as important hubs for providing STEM resources for patrons. And even during a pandemic, local astronomical clubs can help coordinate safe events and programs on the night sky. Click here to learn more about purchasing a modified Cornerstones of Science Telescope and Kit for your library.

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