Family engagement a benefit in STEM education

Project Exploration values family engagement and developing ways to connect science exploration with parents and caregivers to Research suggests that parents and caregivers play a vital role in encouraging and supporting their children’s science learning at home and throughout their community.  Children are naturally curious about the world around them. Parents and other caregivers can nurture and cultivate  this curiosity in children of all ages by creating a positive and safe environment at home for exploration and discovery.

Science Digests are back

Project Exploration is pleased to announce the relaunching of our Science Digest program! In partnership with Chicago Youth Centers and through funding from the Hive Fund for Connected Learning and the Chicago Community Trust, we will be expanding on this original PE program!

Science Digests originally emerged as a monthly program to engage Project Exploration students and alumni in exploring a wide range of STEM disciplines, while working alongside STEM professionals. Project Exploration’s relationship-based model structured programs around intentional long-term relationships between students, staff, and scientists. Science Digest provided an opportunity for these relationships to grow. The program was an anchor to Project Exploration’s Discover strand in the Youth-Science Pathways framework. Discover programs were designed to:

  • Introduce participants to a broad range of scientific disciplines and topics
  • Enable participants to develop and practice the basic principles of science and scientific inquiry
  • Build student confidence in science
  • Lay the foundation for long-term relationships between students, staff, and scientists

The program was structured as a three-hour session, usually happening on weekends, open to all students and alumni, during which there were team building activities, a hands-on learning experience facilitated by a STEM professional, career awareness, and reflection.

With the relaunch, Science Digests is an ongoing series of informal and engaging gatherings that give participants a chance to meet STEM Professionals from a broad range of STEM disciplines and occupations, learning not only about what they do, but how they learned to do it.  In addition to leading an activity demonstrating the principles and practices of their discipline, STEM Professionals share the story of how they found their way into the field, including the challenges they faced and how they overcame those challenges.  This informal, yet significant program encourages students to “try on” different STEM disciplines and evaluate their interest. Topics during this series will include Virtual Reality (VR) experiences, robotics, engineering, and zoology!

Partnerships matter!

Project Exploration has forged a partnership with Chicago Youth Centers (CYC) as we embark on this newly relaunched program. The six different CYC locations provide a larger pool of participants from across the city to participate in the Science Digests programming.  Partnering with CYC also provides space for programming across different neighborhoods, including Bronzeville, South Shore and North Lawndale.  As we work collaboratively, we are able to share program best practices and pull from two organizations’ history of experience working with at-risk youth.

Science Digests’ focus is to engage students and families in STEM experiences.  Our participants have been as young as 10 and as old as… well we’ve had adult participants, too!  CYC’s Youth Council members will also be serving as Teen Ambassadors during the events to aid in logistics and documentation through social media and photographs. At the Science Digests events the Teen Ambassadors are seen as leaders and assist in various roles during the session.  Participants from all ages and comfort with STEM have come to enjoy the activities presented by our STEM Professionals.

On October 13th the Science Digests Kick Off event took place at the Elliott Donnelley Chicago Youth Center in Bronzeville. We had about 35 participants come explore the activity tables on a rolling basis. When participants completed the short 15-minute activity at each table they received a sticker. Once all tables were finished, they were put into a raffle!  Everyone learned more about what Science Digests is and had an opportunity to register for future events.

The relaunch of Science Digests had its first official program workshop at Sidney Epstein Chicago Youth Center in North Lawndale on November 3rd.  We had several participants attend the event after our coming to the October Kick-Off event.  24 students, 3 teens, and 5 adults from 6 different CYC locations.  It was incredible to witness participants from across the city come together to learn about what makes a building structure secure and strong, how the Bernoulli Principle can manipulate the way a plane flies, and design and create their own catapult, with the help of our STEM Professional presenter of the day, Juanita Garcia, founder and CEO of BIM for Better, as well as a long time friend and instructor with Project Exploration.

Our upcoming events:

Thursday, January 4th, 2018 Rebecca K Crown Youth Center Scientists for Tomorrow
Saturday, January 27th, 2018 Elliott Donnelley Youth Center Northern Illinois University (NIU): Center for P-20 Engagement
Monday, February 19th, 2018 Sidney Epstein Youth Center Lincoln Park Zoo
Tuesday, March 27th, 2018 Rebecca K Crown Youth Center Google (VR) experience
Friday, April 13th, 2018 Elliott Donnelley Youth Center Museum of Science and Industry (MSI)

If you want to continue to check in for more information about your future events visit our portfolio page at and pre-register for the event here

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This