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Model Programs

Scitopia Chicago (SC) programs are based around four interrelated paradigms for science engagement and self-realization:

  • connected learning
  • makerspace hands-on projects
  • personalized staff-assisted inquiry
  • mentoring

Parks Alive! Program

The Parks Alive! program explores the vast ecological and biological diversity of Washington Park. Youth participants will become “citizen scientists,” getting their hands dirty finding and logging species on the iNaturalist social network to map the park while learning about native and non-native species. Participants visit the UChicago greenhouse, botany labs, and the Warren Woods Field Station. The program culminates in a final showcase event with video presentations of different local species to a community audience.

Getting dirty, assessing the health of the lagoon
Fall Webworm
Exploring plants and animals of Washington Park

Ancient Bones Program

The Ancient Bones summer program delves into dinosaur science and human origins by engaging youth in hands-on activities in the University of Chicago Fossil Lab. Participants also visit the University of Chicago Paleoanthropology Lab, the Field Museum, and learn about the skeletal anatomy of dinosaurs and ancient humans. In the lab, participants are preparing fossil bones and creating their own 3-D printed dinosaur skulls.

Preparing fossils
3-D printed dinosaur skulls
Painting dinosaur skull models

Student Voices

“What I enjoyed most was the variety of experience because they opened my eyes to how much I was missing out on, and it actually piqued my interest a lot! I feel like it will impact me in the future by the friends I’ve made there, and the knowledge I’ve gained and can carry on with me. It was definitely fun!”

Kaila Harris

EcoLab Program Participant, 8th grade, Kozminski Elementary School

“The programs boosted up my knowledge a lot, it impacted me in socializing with new people.”

Darius Jones

8th grade, Kozminski Elementary School

Engagement Model

SC divides an individual student’s experience into three dimensions with measurable outcomes:

  • STEAM learning
  • self-realization
  • social skills

For its personalized programs (as opposed to class visits, lectures and events), SC aims to track student achievement to develop and refine approaches that generate the most positive outcomes as measured and compared to non-involved peers.