Why Linking In- and Out-of-School Experiences Matters for Students Historically Underrepresented in STEM

Project Exploration
’s youth programs allow students to explore a variety of scientific disciplines alongside scientists. Project Exploration targets students who are open-minded and curious, regardless of academic standing. All of the youth programs are free, eliminating the cost barrier that prevents low-income students from accessing dynamic out-of-school time science programs. Project Exploration works with more than 300 Chicago Public School students each year.

Sisters4Science, one of Project Exploration’s in-school/out-of-school programs, is a year-round after-school and field program that combines science exploration with leadership development for approximately 100 minority middle school girls. Currently the program is run in partnership with four schools across Chicago—Perspectives Middle Academy, Perspectives Charter School—Rodney D. Joslin Campus, Reavis Elementary School, and Barbara A. Sizemore Academy. The program goals are to:

  • Create a safe space for girls to explore science and develop leadership skills.
  • Expose girls to the wide variety of roles played by women in science.
  • Improve girls’ overall attitudes about science by developing team building, communication, and leadership skills.

Girls participate in hands-on science activities led by women scientists as well as participate in science-based field trips. The interests of the girls drive the curriculum; in the past, participants have investigated topics ranging from genetics to chemistry to girls’ health. Sessions are held weekly at each school site.

For more information
Please contact Gabrielle Lyon, Cofounder and Senior Explorer, Project Exploration at glyon@projectexploration.org

Saint Louis Science Center believes that building and sustaining collaborative partnerships between schools, educators and the Saint Louis Science Center brings with it the opportunity to have an unprecedented impact on students' academic achievement. Once such program, the Challenger Learning Center-St. Louis, offers hands-on, space science experiences for students. Students complete their classroom curriculum unit on space science and then enter the Challenger Learning Center-St. Louis to become part of the flight crew and mission control. Students experience unparalleled excitement of space exploration by flying a simulated mission into space. As an educator, when you enroll your class in a Challenger Learning Center-St. Louis program, you receive a free professional development workshop. The professional development workshop provides invaluable resources and activities that will take you well beyond your day-off Challenger Learning Center experience.

For more information
Please contact Diane Miller, Chief Educational Outreach Officer, Saint Louis Science Center at dmiller@slsc.org

The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum wants students to be fascinated by science. One of the museum’s programs, Science on the Go!, is a state-of-the-art, professional development program designed to help k-8 educators become more comfortable teaching science through inquiry-based, hands-on lessons and cooperative learning. The curriculum includes a standards-based curriculum including assessment tools, data-sheet masters, topic resources, and extension activities. Curriculum is revised on an ongoing basis, based on teacher and museum educator feedback. Professional development includes an in-depth, hands-on, introductory curriculum workshop to prepare teachers for using curriculum (includes dinner). All of the necessary materials needed to teach the quarter-long curriculum are packed and prepared for teacher use. An outreach educator will visit each participating classroom three times during the quarter to conduct hands-on science lessons alongside the classroom teacher. Participating classrooms receive a 50% transportation reimbursement as part of their field trip. A Museum representative will be available at the curriculum workshops for teachers to sign up for field trips on the spot! Each participating teacher is eligible to receive seven CPDUs toward re-certification upon completion of the program.

For more information
Please contact Rafael Rosa, Vice President of Education, The Chicago Academy of Sciences and its Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum at Rafael.Rosa@naturemuseum.org