We’re STEAMing ahead!

Posted on January 26, 2021

Berryville Library is part of national project to bring more STEAM learning opportunities to tweens and their families. This four-year project will bring new educational exhibits, science tools, hands-on learning, and more to the community.

STEAM leaders Kelly Ramirez and Lesly Burke, librarians from Berryville and Green Forest are shown demonstrating a few of the science-based experiments and projects that this grant will help fund.
STEAM leaders Kelly Ramirez and Lesly Burke, librarians from Berryville and Green Forest are shown demonstrating a few of the science-based experiments and projects that this grant will help fund. The Makers Cart will be portable and mobile, allowing it to be taken to area events to promote hands-on learning experiments for tweens and to help foster interest in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math for the entire family.


January 25, 2021—Several community members, local partners and dignitaries, including Mayor Tim McKinney were on hand at a recent press conference held Monday at the Berryville Library.  Julie Hall, Berryville Library director made the announcement that the library has been selected as one of only 12 libraries in the nation and the only library in the state to participate in the STAR Net STEAM Equity Project, a competitive grant program that will enable the library and its local collaborators to offer special programs, educational products, and exhibitions.  Through this four-year project, Berryville and Green Forest communities are invited to join this effort to empower tweens and their families in equitable STEAM learning and career paths by building off their existing strengths, interests, and diverse cultures.  Local partners have teamed up with the library to offer a series of fun and free learning opportunities.  Those partners include the Green Forest Library; Town and Country Soccer Club in Green Forest; North Arkansas College; and Arkansas Immigrant Defense.  

The STEAM Equity project—STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math—is designed specifically for libraries in rural communities with sizable Latinx populations.   “We are so excited and honored to have been chosen to be part of this amazing opportunity,” said Berryville Library Director Julie Hall.  “Science, technology, engineering, and math are so much more than school subjects.  They are the building blocks of real-world problem-solving skills that are key to improving ourselves, our community, and our world.  We are excited to be working with our local partners to help us launch fun and free learning opportunities.”

According to Rob Kerby, director of the Town and Country Soccer Club in Green Forest, “I have story after story of how our program has helped area youth succeed, and our hope is to continue this tradition by being a local partner with the library on this STEAM grant project.  Our community has many little incredible diamonds in the rough out there, and this program is designed to help us find them, through the use of collaboration and interactive programming.”

Over the four-year project, Berryville Library will receive $15,000 to buy STEAM learning materials and offer programs, such as coding or robotics clubs, focusing on the needs and interests of tweens and their families.   Other highlights of the project will include take home STEAM Kits, new STEAM exploration stations in both libraries, and national traveling exhibits featuring interactive games and design challenges in both Spanish and English.

According to Linda Tamayo, North Arkansas College Carroll County Center Operations Coordinator, “We couldn’t be more excited to partner with the Berryville Library on the STEAM grant project. We are committed to helping bring awareness of STEAM education to students of all ages and their families. Careers in the STEAM field are ever growing and we strongly believe that early exposure is key. This is a great opportunity for Carroll County and we look forward to being a part of this program and contributing to its success.”  

The STAR Net STEAM Equity Project is offered by the National Center for Interactive Learning at the Space Science Institute (NCIL/SSI), the American Library Association (ALA), Twin Cities PBS (TNT), Institute for Leaning Innovation (ILI), and Education Development Center (EDC), with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The Berryville Library on average has 75,000 visitors annually with more than 80,000 items being circulated.  Learning programs that are fun and free are a core service the library provides.  Through the pandemic, the staff had to get creative to find ways to bring these programs into patron homes through the use of social media and other means.  The STEAM grant will offer the ability to increase what the library is already doing.  To watch the press conference in its entirety, go to the Berryville Library Facebook page.

Librarians and partners gathered for STEAM Equity Project announcement.
Dr. Josephine Kershaw, North Arkansas College; Glenda Allison Berryville Library Board; Julie Hall, Berryville Library Director; Kelly Ramirez, Berryville Librarian and STEAM leader; Lesly Burke, Green Forest Librarian and STEAM leader; Dr. Laura Berry, North Arkansas College; Lupita Perez-Lopez with Arkansas Immigrant Defense; Linda Tamayo from North Arkansas College Carroll County; and Nell Bonds, North Arkansas College.