Community Partners Meeting

Scientists for Tomorrow will be hosting a community partners meeting in efforts to enhance our partnership in the implementation of STEM programming throughout the academic year and summer. The meeting will be December 19, 2014 from 9:00am – 12:30pm.

The meeting will:
– provide diverse perspectives on the facilitation of SfT programs at the sites.
– introduce new organizations and staff leaders to SfT partner members
– discuss the planning process for improvements on recruitment, retention, community engagement, training and technical support.

If you are interested in attending the meeting please contact Evelyn at


For Print. pdf

Family Science Day

Scientists for Tomorrow (SfT) will be hosting their annual Family Science Day event Saturday, December 6th, 2014 at the Museum of Science and Industry. We are very excited to meet all of your community members, including all of the parents and children that will be participating in this year’s activities.

There is so much planned for this year as we will participate in the viewing of “D­Day: Normandy 1944” at the Omnimax Theatre at the Museum of Science and Industry. This stunning film covers the events that unfolded during one of the most important operations throughout the second World War. We will be hosting various activities, including a Make ­and­ Take presented by SfT staff, Science Works hosted by MSI, as well as an abundance of immersive and educational courses that cover the basics of science, including an introduction to space and the human anatomy.

If you wish to participate, please inform the coordinator of the programs at your center/site, to see if they would be interested in participating. Thank you to all that have cooperated with us through the Scientists for Tomorrow program, we look forward to seeing you at the Museum of Science and Industry for a day of immersive and educational activities.

We hope to see many of you there.

Save the Date Flyer

The Lost Generation Poem

The Lost Generation by Jonathan Reed
I am part of a lost generation.
And I refuse to believe that
I can change the world.
I realize this may be a shock, but
“Happiness comes from within”
Is a lie, and
“Money will make me happy”
So in thirty years, I will tell my children
They are not the most important thing in my life.
My employer will know that
I have my priorities straight because
Is more important than
I tell you this:
Once upon a time
Families stayed together
But this will not be true in my era.
This is a quick fix society
Experts tell me
Thirty years from now, I will be celebrating the tenth anniversary of my divorce.
I do not concede that
I will live in a country of my own making.
In the future,
Environmental destruction will be the norm.
No longer can it be said that
My peers and I care about this Earth.
It will be evident that
My generation is apathetic and lethargic.
It is foolish to presume that
There is hope.
And all of this will come true unless we reverse it.

Lost Generation Reverse Poem PDF


Fiesta Familiar 2014- Summary Report

Fiesta Familiar 2014- Summary Report
Chicago – Hoy hosted their 2nd annual Fiesta Familiar 2014 at Lincoln Park Zoo, drawing hundreds of families to explore activities integrating arts, music, science and gardening. The event held on Saturday, September 27, 2014, featured special performances by Mexican Telenovela actor Carlos Espejel and the Mexican Folklore Dance Company of Chicago.

Community Organizations sponsoring the festival presented various activities in one of the five pavilions:
–       In the Arts & Crafts pavilion, organizations featured a coloring contest, building and decorating a paper carousel, a Don Quixote coloring activity, as well as the making of a superhero cape.
–       The Health & Nutrition pavilion had many games for families of all ages as well as free health screenings. Games included bag toss, Mexican bingo (lotería) game, building blocks and spin-the-wheel contests.
–       The Home & Gardening pavilion, was informative as staff members taught families about animal habitats, flower bed gardening, including a Fun “Moolah” activity.
–       The Music & Entertainment pavilion, which was held outdoors, had a main stage which showcased special guest appearances, dance groups, clowns and much more.
–       The Science & Technology Pavilion located in the Kovler Lion House had a special event held by Mad Science Chicago who taught activities such as Dry Ice Capades, Fundamental Forces and Sonic Sounds. Scientists for Tomorrow (SfT) participated in the event by hosting six exciting hands-on activities throughout the day taught by Marcelo Caplan, Associate Professor in the Science and Math Department at Columbia College Chicago.

In the Scientists for Tomorrow workshop, the first three sets of workshops were the Go Go Gadget Light where participants explored the concepts of energy and conduction of electricity. There were 20 participants in each workshop; six by members from the Boys Scouts and Cubs Scouts of America. The enjoyment of the activities was personified by the participant’s emotions and feedback. One of the boys scouts mother said she heard great things about the Scientists for Tomorrow workshop last year, so she brought her sons this year to participate in the myriad activities offered by the program. To her and many other families, the activities created a bonding opportunity. We saw parents and children working together, children teaching parents, and parents teaching children. Both parties felt an overwhelming sense of accomplishment because the Go Go Gadget Light was a difficult concept for participants with no background knowledge. Their reactions were a testament to the success of the Scientists for Tomorrow program.

In the afternoon many families lined up to make their own Balloon Powered Kart which introduced the basic ideas of Newton’s Third Law of Motion. Before starting, all the chairs were filled with children waiting to see Newton’s Third Law of Motion in action. The variety of colors attracted the gaze of many people passing by. During the explanation of the Third Law, Marcelo, with a red face, pumped carbon dioxide into the balloon until it expanded beyond his field of vision. With great excitement, the audience cheered as Marcelo unleashed the mighty force of its balloon. The end result–the balloon zigzagging through the air–lifting the mood of the audience. This made the Balloon Powered Kart an enjoyable activity. Throughout the day, Scientists for Tomorrow had over 200 participants who left home with either a Balloon Kart or Gadget Light.

Fiesta Familiar is the largest Hispanic event in the Midwest, drawing thousands of participants each year to celebrate cultural activities and performances in different Pavilions throughout the Zoo. For more information visit


Diversion en el Zoológico Lincoln Park—Fiesta Familiar 2014
Chicago – El periódico Hoy celebró su segundo evento, Fiesta Familiar 2014, en el zoológico, Lincoln Park Zoo, trayendo cientos de familias a explorar actividades en las artes plásticas, música, ciencia y jardinería. El evento tuvo lugar el sábado 27 de Septiembre de 2014, y contó con las actuaciones especiales de el actor de Telenovelas mexicanas, Carlos Espejel y la compañía de la danza folklórica mexicana de Chicago.

Las organizaciones comunitarias que patrocinaron el evento presentaron varias actividades en uno de los cinco pabellones:

En el pabellón de Las Artes Plásticas, varias organizaciones presentaron varias actividades: un concurso donde los participantes construyeron un carrusel de papel y luego lo decoraron, actividades en el tema de Don Quijote y otro grupo diseñaba capas de superhéroes.
El pabellón de Nutrición y Salud tenía muchos juegos para las familias y sus miembros de todas las edades. El pabellón tenía un área reservada para exámenes de salud gratuito.El pabellón de la Casa & Jardinería, funcionarios enseñaron a las familias sobre diferentes hábitats, actividades básicas de jardinería urbana y más.
El pabellón de Entretenimiento y Música tuvo un escenario principal que mostró apariciones especiales, grupos de danza, payasos y mucho más.

Situado en la casa de León Kovler del zoológico, estuvo el pabellón de Ciencia y Tecnología donde dos organizaciones Mad Science de Chicago y Scientists for Tomorrow (SfT) de Columbia College Chicago presentaron diversas actividades en Ciencia y Tecnología para toda la familia. Mad Science enseñó actividades en relación con el hielo seco, fuerzas fundamentales de la naturaleza y sonidos.. Los científicos para mañana, presentaron seis emocionantes talleres prácticas durante todo el día dirigido por Marcelo Caplan, profesor asociado del Departamento de Ciencias y Matemáticas del colegio Columbia College Chicago.

En los tres primeros talleres que presentó SfT, los participantes exploraron los conceptos de energía, electricidad y como la electricidad circula en un conductor. Cada taller incluyo más de 20 participantes.En uno de los talleres participaron seis miembros de los Boys Scout y cachorros de América. Las actividades fueron personificados por emociones y retroalimentación de los participantes. Uno de los miembros de Boys Scouts trajo a su mama. La madre dijo que escuchó grandes cosas acerca de SfT el año pasado, así que ella trajo a sus hijos este año para participar en el taller. Como en este caso y entre muchas otras familias, las actividades presentadas por SfT abrieron una oportunidad para que padres y los niños trabajen y aprendan juntos. Los niños enseñaban a los padres y los padres enseñaban a los niños. Ambas partes sentían una sensación abrumadora de logro cuando finalizaba la construcción de su propio “Conductometro”, un aparato para medir que materiales conducen electricidad y cuales no, y con el probaban distintos materiales a su alrededor.

En las tarde muchas familias se alinearon para hacer su propio carrito impulsado con un globo, “Balloon Powered Kart” que introdujo las ideas básicas de la tercera ley de Newton. Antes de empezar, todas las sillas estaban llenas de niños esperando para construir su carrito. La variedad de colores de los globos atrajo a la mirada de muchas personas que pasaban. Durante la explicación de la tercera ley, Marcelo, con una cara roja, infló el globo hasta que se expandió más allá de su campo de visión. Con una gran emoción, el público aplaudió a Marcelo mientras que desataba la fuerza poderosa de su globo. El resultado final–el globo zigzagueando a través del aire– Luego los participantes se pusieron manos a la obra!!!, Cortaron maderas, construyeron el chassis del carrito,, le pusieron las ruedas, le montaron el globo propulsor lo inflaron y los carritos comenzaron a andar!!!

Durante todo el día SfT condujo 6 talleres en los cuales más de 200 participantes se llevaron a la casa una inolvidable experiencia, aprender ciencia y tecnología con la familia y también el producto de su trabajo: un “Conductometro” o un Carrito propulsado por un globo. Pero lo mas importante, es la experiencia: toda la familia trabajando y aprendiendo juntos!!!.

PDF. Fiesta Familiar 2014 Report in English
PDF. Fiesta Familiar 2014 Report in Spanish


Fiesta Familiar 2014 – Hoy from Scientists for Tomorrow on Vimeo.

Thank you to those that attended the Community Partners Meeting


The Community Partners meeting held at Columbia College Chicago, on August 29, 2014, ended with 30 community leaders and staff participating on site and live streaming, to New York and California, to discuss important changes administered this year in the program.

In efforts to integrate the STEM modules in the communities, SfT staff discuss the requirements needed to implement the program in the fall. Each site participant will need to be responsible for recruiting at least 15 participants ranging from 6th through 8th grade. In addition the sites will be responsible for the materials and instructional costs.
To Fall participant sites, the instructors will attend two Professional Developments (PD): Part 1 and Part 2 of Alternative Energy. Materials and Tools will need to be picked up and dropped off  by the coordinator or instructor at Columbia College Chicago.  NOTE: Materials will be available to pick up the day of the first PD.

Addressing the issue on program evaluation, the report last year confirms that SfT had over 222 youths who completed three modules. In the course of three years, over 100 youth participated in at least four SfT modules. The evaluator said, “In spite of the unforeseen challenges in implementation and coordination, the passion this group has exhibited toward all facets of this program, and all parties involved with the community centers, in specific, is readily evident in the comments made by center coordinators when they are asked about the program. Further, the positive experience that community center directors appear to be having with the Scientists for Tomorrow staff, and their excitement about their experiences in the program are both essential steps to the incorporation of STEM activities like this into regular community center programming.”

For the mini group session, five groups of four-six participants deliberated on common problems when engaging parent participation in the SfT events in particular, and in their centers in general.

Important Notes from the Parent Engagement mini session:

  • Call the parents and meet with them personally to discuss the program.
  • Make a mandatory parent/student orientation to show and present Scientists for Tomorrow to the community.  
  • Find out important events that the parents will attend (report card day pick up, program fair and parent/teacher meetings) to discuss program.
  • Send to SfT staff pictures of your teens and their parents so we can post them in the SfT site, then show the participants and their parents the Scientists for Tomorrow website and social media.
  • Recruit and ask the parents to volunteer to work with you and learn by attending the class sessions.
  • Attend one of the parents morning workshops (Zumba, English, Computer class, etc..) and invite them to the events and discuss the program with them

Promote the establishment of a Scientists for Tomorrow parents group that meets once a month to do a STEM workshop for parents – Marcelo will support academically this initiative

  • Get involved in community events and invite them (church, events, media, etc.) to others SfT events.
  • Tell the participants and put in the permission slips that the participants have to bring one parent/guardian/adult or they cannot attend Family Science Day event.
  • Talk to the parents standing outside waiting for their kids before or after class finishes.
  • Have a SAVE THE DATE flyer and give this flyer TO THE PARENTS – You have the dates in advance for the trips. Do not wait until the last week
  • Put Family Science Day events in the school’s calendar or local media.
  • Email the teachers and parents the flyer.
  • Do a Phone Blast or Robocalls
  • Make an announcement about Family Science Days and the program before the school day finishes.

Thus far, 16 community sites will be implementing the Alternative Energies module in the Fall 2014. The module is very hands-on oriented where participants will learn about solar energy and design their own solar powered cart using the photovoltaic array that they built. We are running two more modules in a pilot mode. We will have one site running Robotics, and another site running Astronomy taught by a Columbia College Chicago professor.

As we said above, it is important to remember that Community Leaders and staff will need to have a start date available to begin the implementation of the module and communicate it to SfT coordination as soon as possible. All instructors teaching the Fall modules need to attend both Professional Developments. Toolbox and material pick up will need to be schedule with an SfT staff for pick up time at Columbia College Chicago, 623 S. Wabash Ave, Room 600N.

Lesson Plans, Video Tutorials, Pre-test, Consent Forms and any other forms will be accessible online at under the registered user. Only sites participating in the Fall will have access to the Registered User site.

Important Dates:

Event Date
Professional Development: Alternative Energy Part 1 09/20/2014
Professional Development: Alternative Energy Part 2 10/25/2014
Professional Development: Physics of Sound and Mathematics of Music Part 1 01/17/2015
Professional Development: Physics of Sound and Mathematics of Music Part 2 02/21/2015


Family Science DayMuseum of Science and Industry (MSI) December 6, 2014
Family Science DayTBA at the Field Museum March 2015
Family Science Day
5th Annual STEAM Conference
May 2, 2015
Family Science Day
Peggy Noertbaurt Nature Museum
May 23, 2015

For more information about SfT’s STEM initiative visit


A Reflection with Scientists for Tomorrow by Ashley Conroy

I am continuously learning what makes a good urban teacher, especially through my interactions with students, family and community. A great lesson I learned was not from a graduate education course, but from an insightful grandmother. She explained that her grandson was now at the age to enter a vicious cycle and she could see him starting to make the same poor decisions she had seen so many times. “What they need,” she said, “is someone to teach them that life goes beyond the block.” I’ve thought about that for two years now, about how sensitive but bold an individual must be to break those barriers and prove what can be a different future. Teachers in this system require balance; they must weigh all of the emotion that is required to work with a human medium. I truly believe in education as an opportunity to shape socially conscious individuals who are willing to help bring change to a world in need, and I want to make sure that every child in this city has that opportunity.

Throughout college, I was always trying to figure out my destiny.  I found myself experimenting with many different areas of study and activities.  I became the teaching assistant for one of my favorite psychology professors in his Behavioral Laboratory.  I was a peer leader, helping to teach a class of freshman through their orientation, and first semester in an interdisciplinary course called “The End of the World.” I began a Career Peer Advising position with the Career Services office in which I helped students build resumes and cover letters.  I became the President of Recruitment in my sorority, where I taught the younger sisters the process of gaining new members. I was a student coordinator for both the Emerging Leader’s Retreat and the Collegiate Leadership Conference, each focusing on helping students develop a sense of social justice within leadership positions. I gained a summer internship with a behavior modification program in which I worked with six to eight-year old children with high functioning autism and ADHD to develop better classroom and social habits.  Even with all of this experience under my belt, I still could not figure out what I should do with my future.  After graduation and in the midst of my job search, I finally put the pieces together.  There was a common theme throughout my life: I was a teacher.

I was given the opportunity to receive my teacher training at Columbia College Chicago (CCC). Their program challenged me academically, but more importantly it challenged me to see the world differently. It allowed me to see society through different experiences and how those differences affect children and their education.  Within the first few weeks of attending CCC, I met a man who would turn out to be another great influence in my life, my mentor, Marcelo Caplan.   Though I did not know it at first, our education philosophies aligned, and he, more than anyone I had met until that point, believed I would be a great teacher.

Marcelo invited me to a Professional Development for a program called Scientists for Tomorrow.  He promised that my attendance was not a commitment, that I should simply come to see what the program had to offer me in terms of my educational experience.  During that first session, I learned how to build a solar powered car, and was forever hooked.  For the past two years, I have worked closely with the Scientists for Tomorrow program, first as an instructor, then as the Associate Coordinator. Scientists for Tomorrow, in collaboration with the Department of Science and Mathematics at CCC, and selected Chicago community organizations, work with the youth and families from some of Chicago’s most distressed neighborhoods. The program enables families to realize the benefits of a well-rounded education that includes strong instruction in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)-related fields. We have developed and taught 10 week modules such as “Alternative Energy” in which we build solar powered cars,  and “The Physics of Sound and Mathematics of Music” where students build a monochord, wind chime and xylophone of their own.  Through this program, I have worked with students at the Association House in Humboldt Park, the Young Women’s Leadership Charter School with girls from various south side neighborhoods, and both Castellanos and Eli Whitney Elementary Schools in Little Village.

Being a part of this program has been integral to my experience at Columbia College Chicago.  It has provided an avenue for me to practice the pedagogy I so fully explore in my classes.  There are small and vital things that cannot be accomplished in coursework, such as introducing yourself to students on the first day, that SfT has allowed me to experience multiple times.  Because it is an informal after school program and primarily for middle school students, I have been able to develop relationships with students in a way that is different from the general education classrooms.  In this way, the students understand that I’m also a student learning to teach.  They are supportive of my attempts to try different techniques, and are very honest with their opinions.

Above all else, Marcelo and the program have taught me that teaching is learning, and learning requires teaching.  It is with this understanding that I enter the world of urban education, knowing that I will learn just as much as I will teach.  Without the support of such a quality mentor, I would not be so wholeheartedly diving into a sixth grade science and math teaching position within the Chicago Public Schools.  Thanks to Scientists for Tomorrow, I am excited to take on this challenge knowing that I will always be able to ask for help from my mentor.

Throughout my life, I have come across many amazing people who have molded and motivated the way I think and see the world.  One of the most influential, which I learned later in life, is my little sister, Alyssa.  Spending countless hours with her at the homework table in our mother’s house, I came to understand that not everyone learns the same way and that not all teachers are good teachers.  I was always a really good student; if I did not understand something, I simply taught myself.  My sister, however, did not have that ability nor did she have the resources to help develop her abilities. Developing this understanding, in combination with the experiences I had with students in many facets of my undergraduate career, I started to see the inequities in education and vowed from that moment to help be a part of the solution.

~Ashley Conroy~



2014 STEAM Conference Success

Chicago May 3, 2014—The fourth annual STEAM Conference held at Northeastern Illinois University has once again proven to be a success!!! This year more than 700 students and parents participated in the event, attending a variety of more than 40 different hands-on STEAM workshops.

The yearly conference establiched by Aaron Cortes and Marcelo Caplan, co-chairs of the STEAM Conference was designed in collaboration between the Upward Bound Science and Math program at Northeastern Illinois University, and the Scientists for Tomorrow program at the Department of Science and Mathematics at Columbia College Chicago to facilitate middle schools and high schools students from the Chicago area to attend and also be able to present workshops to other teens fostering Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM).

The STEAM Conference was held at Northeastern Illinois University Campus on 5500 N. St. Louis Avenue. Twelve Scientists for Tomorrow’s community partners sites presented several workshops at the conference. Each community partner presented one of these workshops: Go Go Gadget Light, Circuit Monster, 3, 2, 1 Balloon Powered Cart, Magic Brain, LED Multi Color Lights, Fruity DNA, Mouse trap Cars, Play-Doh Squishy Circuits, The Music of Wind-Wind Chime Making, Sound with the Wind-Wind Chime Making and Art Bot. For a large description of the workshops visit the Conference Workshop Sessions Description at the

Keynote speaker for the 2014 STEAM Conference was Georgette Yakman, founding researcher and developer of STEAM, a framework for Teaching Across the Disciplines, and Dr. Graig Wilson Ph.D, Senior Outreach Associate, DMSE, TAMU & Director for the USDA/HSINP Future Scientists program.

The conference gathered more than 700 participants and presenters at the event. Next year’s STEAM conference will be on May 2, 2015. The location will be announced. For more details of the 2014 STEAM Conference click on this link:
2014 STEAM Conference Recap.pdf

2014 Family Science Day at the Field Museum

Scientists for Tomorrow
Science Institute in the Department of Science and Mathematics
Columbia College Chicago

 Summary of Winter Session: Family Science Day
Event Host: Field Museum
Date: March 15, 2014

 On Saturday, March 15, 2014 over 550 members from 36 community-based organizations participating in the National Science Foundation (NSF), Informal Science Education (ISE) NSF-ISE Scientists for Tomorrow (SfT) program attended third annual Family Science Day at the Field Museum. The faculty and staff of the Science Institute, in the Department of Science and Mathematics in collaboration with the education department of the Field Museum, organized the event.

At the Field Museum, the event took place directly at the exhibits and classrooms.  The workshops aligned with the concepts that the participants learned in the module “Physics of Sound and Mathematics of Music.” The lessons are taught in most community sites under the supervision of Scientists for Tomorrow staff.  

Andy Hershberger, the liaison for the education department of the museum, facilitated the event. Attendees participated in planned activities, which involved three music-oriented workshops: Investigation of Musical instruments, Constructing Pan Flutes and Building Thumb Pianos. They also attended three museum exhibit explorations: Africa, Ancient Egypt and Revolving Planets.

Participants at the event included parents, children, program instructors and community leaders from 36 partnering Chicago community organization sites. Columbia College Chicago students and staff members contributed and documented the event.

The Family Science Day event at the Field Museum was designed to expand the conceptual foundation revolving the learning module of Physics of Sound and Mathematics of Music, most importantly to promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) interest in all children.

We expect that the youth will share the knowledge gained within the dynamic museum environment, with the rest of the communities who have not had the chance to experience this opportunity.  Furthermore, to become more involved in future STEM activities in their centers.

The high attendance and participation of our community members made the event a success. The team leaders showed great dedication, and the children above all, expressed great interest and enjoyed the event. Children loved the fact that they were able to construct their own take home instruments when consulting and listening from museum experts.

The Field Museum staff led the workshops with great success. Site leaders along with parents, successfully managed participants around the exhibitions. In addition, the participation of our 24 teens from the Upper Bound Math and Science from Northeastern did an amazing job! These young leaders showed great enthusiasm and responsibility throughout the event. Not only were they able to keep their groups organized, but also assisted other team leaders with directions towards designated exhibitions.

Special guests included a dance performance by The Back of the Yards Ballet Folklorico. The performance called, “Concheros, ” is a compilation of Aztec dances that represented their customs in Agriculture (La danza del maiz), Sun Gods (La danza del Sol) and War (La danza de Guerra).  The ballet instructor, Emilio Corona, presented and talked about the instruments, as he made music using a sea shell, “Caracol” and a wooden “Teponaztli” slit drum. 

The following community organizations who participated in the event were:  Chicago Teachers, Enlace Chicago, United Neighborhood Organization, Logan Square Neighborhood Association, Chicago Teachers Center, Brighton Park Neighborhood, Center for Community Arts Partnership, Family Focus Inc., YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago, GEMS, Three Rivers and Metropolitan Family Services.  

Scientists for Tomorrow Family Science Event 2014.PDF