Science Club, an afterschool, mentor-based program for middle school youth developed in partnership with the Boys & Girls Club of Chicago and Chicago Public Schools (CPS), continues to make a striking difference in the science skills and engagement of its youth members. Originally based at the Pedersen-McCormick Club in Uptown, the project has since expanded and now also runs twice a week at the TrueValue Club in Little Village.
Across both sites, graduate student mentors work with youth in small groups on a new, 10-week curriculum each quarter. Past curricula have included biomedical engineering, medicine, food science, environmental science, audiology, and neuroscience. Each curricular unit culminates with a fun event, such as a club-wide science fair, where club members share their work with their families and friends. (You can download free curriculum and activity guides from the Science Club website.)
Each child in Science Club receives 50 hours of mentor-led, engaging, and challenging science instruction throughout the academic year. In many cases, this doubles the amount of classroom science instruction received in school.
Science Club has been running since 2008 and its transformative effect is clear. Youth are choosing science careers, achieving at higher levels than their aptitude-matched peers, and seeing first-hand that science is a relevant part of their lives. The program was honored with the 2013 STEM Impact Award from the Afterschool Alliance, one of only two programs recognized nationally for excellence in afterschool education, and was profiled in the inaugural Connected Science Learning journal published by the National Science Teachers Association.
Science Club has become an influential part of a science learning community in Chicago. Mentors now hail not only from Northwestern but also partner institutions including the University of Chicago, Loyola University and the University of Illinois-Chicago. Teachers at five Chicago Public Schools – Bateman Elementary, Budlong Elementary, Friedrich Jahn Elementary, Thorp Elementary, and St. Stanislaus Kostka – are using Science Club curricula in their school-based programs.
Both Clubs have sprouted Jr. Science Clubs for eager elementary school youth and the mentor-led model of informal science exploration has informed Science in Society's newest projects Science Explorers and Science Club Summer Camp, a teacher professional development model bringing Science Club practices into the elementary classroom. Especially important to our long-term commitment to participants, Science Club alums are now returning to the program as high school mentors, working closely with Northwestern graduate students to bring the excitement of science to their younger counterparts.
If you are an energetic Northwestern, Loyola, or Chicago-area graduate student, postdoc, or staff member in any science or engineering discipline, you are invited to apply to become a mentor! Mentors must be able to commit approximately 3 hours per week (including travel time) and attend quarterly half-day Saturday orientation sessions. If you’re interested in finding out more, please fill out our application form or feel free to contact Ashley Jennings at email@example.com
2. Make a Donation
Science Club is supported entirely by philanthropic support. Contact us to discuss a monetary donation, or, for companies, we are always looking for supplies and equipment.
3. Give a Talk or Host a Trip
If you are a scientist or healthcare professional willing to host a group of students on a field trip or give a short talk to our club members in the Chicagoland area, please contact Julianne Hatfield, firstname.lastname@example.org.