It’s clear that since the pandemic began things have been uniquely difficult. But these trying times do not mean that progress has ceased for IEEE-Region 4, and this definitely applies to Science Kits for Public Libraries (SKPL), an outreach program in support of early engineering education that launched in 2017. SKPL offers competitive grants—generally in the US$1,000-$2,000 range—enabling public libraries to advance engineering awareness and education by creating hands-on circulating science kit collections. Forty five applications for 2021 grants were received, compared to 22 in 2020, and thanks to donor generosity, at least 15 grants will be awarded in 2021 as compared to 7 grants in 2020.

Libraries in rural towns, suburbs and large cities continue to report kids’ enthusiasm for learning about such subjects as optics, magnetism and robotics through the hands-on science kits. Like paper-and-ink books, the science kits can be used on site or checked out of the library and taken home. The kits give school-age youngsters an opportunity for self-learning, and hands-on experiences with scientific principles and engineering challenges. Equally important, they’re also a lot of fun! Basic science and technology education is surely vital to the future of our profession and a key part of our stated mission of “Advancing Technology for Humanity.” Therefore, it is no surprise that the majority of the financial support for SKPL comes from generous IEEE-Region 4 members and their employers, and dedicated volunteers run the program. Becoming involved in SKPL is easy and the personal rewards are substantial.

 Please consider donating your time or treasure to this great program. Learn more at

Article submitted by Bill Kennedy, Evanston, IL USA-IEEE Region 4 Volunteer.  Bill, thanks for helping our program!

This article was first published in the IEEE Foundation newsletter FOCUS in September 2021.  If you’re interested in reading the newsletter in it’s entirety,  Here’s the link: