Join Us Saturday, September 27, 2014

FiestaFamiliar2014HOY is once again hosting Fiesta Familiar 2014 at Lincoln Park Zoo, Saturday, September 27, 2014. The event is one of the largest family events in the Midwest, which brought more than 20,000 participants at last years event. For 2014, they expect more families to come together to work at the pavilions to learn Arts & Crafts; Health & Nutrition; Home & Gardening; Music & Entertainment; and Science & Technology.
Scientists for Tomorrow (SfT), was invited again to host a workshop in the Science & Technology pavilion. This year SfT will be doing two activities for the participants, the Balloon Powered Cart and Go, Go, Gadget.  The event is free and will begin at 10:00am until 5:00pm. For more information please visit

The entrance is located at Fullerton Parkway and Cannon Drive (2400 N. Cannon Dr, Chicago IL 60614). Parking fee applies.Buses 
#151 and #156 stop at the zoo’s West Gate (Stockton & Webster) and near the Farm-in-the-Zoo (Stockton & Armitage)
#22 stops near the zoo’s West Gate (exit at Clark & Webster) and Café Brauer Gate (exit at Clark & Armitage) 
#36 stops near the zoo’s West Gate (exit at Clark & Webster) and Café Brauer Gate (exit at Clark & Armitage)

The Brown line and Purple line stop at the Armitage station, which is about one mile west of the zoo. Exit and walk east on Armitage, past Clark, to the Café Brauer Gate.
Cab fare from downtown Chicago to Lincoln Park Zoo is about $10. Enter at the Café Brauer Gate or West Gate.
Bicycle Racks
Bicycle racks are located near the East Gate, West Gate, Café Brauer and Lincoln Park Conservatory with additional racks along Cannon Drive and Stockton Drive.


 PDF VERSION: 2014 Fiesta Familiar


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~