Birmingham Public Library expands after-school STEM program for teens

Thanks to a $95,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) will be able to purchase laptops, software, tools, safety equipment and fund stipends for Teens Engineer BHM, an after-school robotics program.

Teens Engineer BHM at Birmingham Public Library learning STEM disciplines.
Dr. Abidin Yildirim, Director of Outreach and STEM Coordinator for the UAB School
of Engineering (left) working with college mentors and local teens on a structured STEM activity at the Central Library, via Birmingham Public Library

Teens Engineer BHAM is a UAB School of Engineering outreach effort through the Birmingham Public Library, beginning as a pilot program at the downtown Central Library in 2015. These days the after-school learning session partners engineering students from UAB with teens at Central, Southside and Woodlawn libraries. Because of the grant, the program will now expand to a total of five libraries over the next two years.

Last year, the program was expanded to the Southside and Woodlawn branch libraries after BPL won a $50,000 2015 Community Impact Grant from the UAB Benevolent Fund.

“We are excited, our teens and parents are excited, and our UAB mentors and partners in the UAB School of Engineering are overjoyed to have the support of the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham,” said Lance Simpson, Department Head of BPL’s The Learning Center. “The program is all about providing knowledgeable mentors to work one on one with our teens and sharing their passion for engineering, and the teens have loved it.”

Mentors from the UAB School of Engineering, led by Department Outreach Coordinator and STEM Instructor Dr. Abidin Yildirim, provide weekly STEM-based robotics programming for after-school students who come from home schools, as well as Phillips Academy, Woodlawn and Ramsay high schools.

Since its inception, the teens participating in the program have learned to build and program robots and work directly with UAB mentors.

“We can’t wait to see what the next two years will bring,” Simpson said. “We are so grateful to the UAB Benevolent Fund for their initial faith and support in our pilot project, and now to the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham for their support in the next phase.”

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