SfT Families Reconnect with the Natural World

On May 23rd, 2015, Scientists for Tomorrow had over 120 students, instructors and parents attend the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. For many participants this was the first time they visited the nature museum which is located on 2430 N. Cannon Drive in Chicago.

The day was filled with diverse activities, encouraging SfT families to reconnect with the natural world. Participants observed and learned about the life of the butterflies and moths at the Butterfly Haven. Later, they sketched in detail a live Darkling Beetle and a Box Turtle. Participants further learned about animals and their behaviors in the Ethogram exhibit.

As the day continued students and their parents joined together to engage in the “Nature  Scavenger Hunt” and the “Habitat Explorers” activities, both providing them a chance to explore the beautiful park outside by the North Pond.   They also learned about how canals work in the “Water and You” exhibit, where they were able to manipulate water flow in miniature towns and dams.

David Bild, the Peggy NoteBaert Nature Museum Coordinator for Teen and Young Adult programs led the Native Plant workshop in which he talked about the history of plants native to Illinois. At the end of the workshop David gave all of the participants seeds and plants, giving them a little bit of nature to take home with them.

For the closing session, families had a lot to take away from this exciting event, granted with the occasion to view nature in a new and appreciative way.

For more information about the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum you can visit them at http://www.naturemuseum.org

STEAM Conference 2015: Reflections From Parents and Instructors

More than 1,000 participants attended Scientists for Tomorrow 5th Annual STEAM Conference at Northeastern University of Illinois campus on May 2, 2015. During the conference, more than 200 high school and middle school students taught science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics  hands-on workshops to their peers.

However, this conference wouldn’t have been possible without the involvement and participation of parents and instructors. Here’s a reflection of what their children and students are taking home after the conference.

“When I said there’s a conference where your children are going to be able to build something by themselves they said ‘We’re going and we’re also taking our families’. The process of having received training, talking with my own experience, communicating that voice and now having these families here it’s a total success. My hope is that the parents that aren’t as engaged will get engaged. It’s not just working on homework at home, they [parents] should also discover there are new horizons for them,” said 60-year-old Maricruz Guardado, Morton- 201 District Parents Program Coordinator.

“The teachers at Volta were very interested in bringing their students here, including the science olympians, just to see the whole conference and what’s going on because they’re interested in engineering, science and all the good things that STEAM provides. They wanted if it’s possible to actually be presenters next year. After this, they [students] will have a lot of exposure to the whole STEAM conference. They [students] have never had anyone take them to something like this,” said 27-year-old, Nahla Yafai, Volta Elementary School STEAM conference trip organizer.

“What I like about the program is that it gets kids interested on science and it gives them an insight that they don’t usually see in the classroom. It’s really inspiring for them as well as for myself. Usually in classrooms for experiments we don’t have enough supplies and materials so we don’t get to dwell deeper into what science is. But with the STEAM conference and with Scientists for Tomorrow we give them a lot of background and they get to see things they wouldn’t normally see in their science classroom. They look at science in a different light,” said Geri Catto, Duke Ellington and Ella Flygg Young instructor.

“I learned about the STEAM conference through Scientists for Tomorrow and I invited my kids and their families to come. The kids have been loving being taught by their peers. The main thing that the students are taking away are both creativity involved in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and also that there’s a whole community of people their age that are engaged in these types of projects. How fun can that be to get together with people their own age who are also interested in science and do creative problem solving on their own. It’s teaching them that they too can teach their peers and their friends about science,” said 26-year-old, Katie Spero, SfT instructor at Ravenswood Elementary School.

“We, as parents, have the opportunity to learn and develop as leaders and motivate other parents to participate for the good of our children’s education. As a presenter I take home the satisfaction of how so many parents were attentive while we were explaining the projects. They have the capacity, all the parents have the capacity of learning. We [parents] sometimes say ‘I can’t do this’ ,but it’s so simple. If all parents knew about it it would be another part of our children’s education. The parents’ involvement  is the best because it’s the base of our children’s education. Before I thought it was more complex, but it’s a game, science is game based,” said 46-year-old, Josefina Chavez, STEAM conference presenter and member of Frida Kahlo Community Organization Parents Program.

Lyric Opera: “Carousel” Cultural Afternoon

More than 250 students from Chicago Public Schools (CPS) accepted Scientists for Tomorrow (SfT) invitation and attended Chicago’s Lyric Opera on April 18th for an afternoon full of theater, culture and learning. Students along with parents and instructors got a chance to see “Carousel”, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s musical play.

Before the presentation, attendees got the opportunity to experience theater from backstage. Students listened to a pre-presentation by Michael Smallwood, Technical Director of the Lyric Opera, where they learned about the Science and Technology behind the theater and the opera, its secrets, such as microphones’ location and function, the impact of different frequencies  of the sound on the stage and special effects.

Thirteen-year-old Manuel Perez Jr. Elementary School student, Cynthia Sadie Morales, was surprised to learn about the secrets behind a musical play and had very high expectations of the show. “Not a lot of people have the opportunity to be coming here,” Morales said,”You get to experience something new that you don’t experience everyday.”

Frida Kahlo Community Organization instructor, Ikeem Jones, also appreciated the opportunity Sft organization gave his students from Edward N. Hurley Fine & Performing Arts Magnet. “I think it’s amazing because I didn’t come to the opera until I was 24, it’s good to be cultured,” Jones said.

Parents also took advantage of this cultural opportunity.This was Ines Montero, mother of two,  first time at the opera “It’s a great investment because children should learn to love theater from a young age, that way we plant a seed for them to be future artists,” Montero said.

Claps and a standing ovation were the conclusion of a cultural afternoon where students,parents and instructors took advantage of a unique occasion thanks to Scientists for Tomorrow initiative.