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Madison Children’s Museum Receives Grant to Promote Scientific and Cultural Literacy with KidShare Program

Award-winning children’s museum one of 12 organizations awarded IMLS and John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation grant to create Learning Lab

MADISON, Wis. (November 13, 2012) Madison Children’s Museum (MCM) announced today that it will receive one of 12 grants from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The funds will be used by MCM to design a Learning Lab that provides today’s youth with the space, relationships, and resources to connect their social worlds and interests with academics, and to better prepare them for success in the 21st century. The museum will use the $96,595 in funding to create KidShare Learning Lab—a unique program that explores the potential of digitally based experiences to foster development of middle and high school audiences.

Through KidShare, area teens will use a variety of digital technologies to conduct original community fieldwork near the museum and in their neighborhoods. Students will then use the data to create digital games and stories, present their work publicly in a variety of forms, and begin dialogues within their community about their learning and findings. In order to facilitate this interactive learning, MCM will collaborate with the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County, Local Games Lab, Games+Learning+Society at UW-Madison, Mobile Learning Lab-DoIT Academic Technology at UW-Madison, and Filament games.

MCM’s KidShare program consists of three components:

  • A Mobile Media Lab, which will travel into neighborhoods and help youth collect their place- based stories
  • A Digital Design Workshop that is a dedicated on-site space where youth can “hang out” “mess around,” and “geek out” through play and creation of locally inspired digital media
  • Neighborhood Lens, a prototype digital interactive exhibit and repository of local knowledge, collected and designed by children, with a corresponding website for off-site engagement

“Madison Children’s Museum has been built by, for, and about young people,” said Brenda Baker, Director of Exhibits at Madison Children’s Museum, who will oversee the KidShare program. “Our Learning Lab will not only increase kids’ literacy with digital media, data collection, and storytelling, but also allow them to engage with the community in a rich, creative, and meaningful way.”

The grant is part of a second round of winners in a national competition to create 21st century labs in museums and libraries around the country. Madison Children’s Museum, along with the other grantees, join 12 additional communities also planning new learning centers in libraries and museums as a part of the Learning Labs in Libraries and Museums project. The initiative was first announced

“Because of the expertise and content we have to offer, museums and libraries are uniquely positioned to offer young people meaningful learning experiences that link to science, art, and technology,” said Susan Hildreth, Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. “With caring mentors and skilled professionals on staff to guide teens in their exploration, Learning Labs help youth express themselves and hone their skills in a safe environment.”

To learn more about the Learning Labs Project, visit or


Madison Children’s Museum: Founded in 1980, Madison Children’s Museum (MCM) is an award-winning organization whose hands-on exhibits and programs celebrate and encourage children’s imaginations and the power of play as the cornerstone of learning. MCM is a proud recipient of the 2011 National Medal for Museum Service form the Institute of Museum and Library Services. To learn more about MCM, including a fact sheet and detailed exhibit descriptions, please visit our Newsroom page. To download photos for media use, please visit our Flickr page.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit or follow @US_IMLS on Twitter.

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supports creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. In addition to selecting the MacArthur Fellows, the Foundation works to defend human rights, advance global conservation and security, make cities better places, and understand how technology is affecting children and society. The Foundation’s digital media and learning initiative aims to determine how digital media are changing the way young people learn, play, socialize, and participate in civic life. The goal is to build a base of evidence about how young people learn today, in an effort to re-imagine learning in the 21st century. To learn more, please visit: or follow us on Twitter @macfound.

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