Mather Science Explorers

Mather Science Explorers pairs scientists (Science Education Fellows) with small groups of freshmen biology students to help students build science skills and achieve academic success in the transition to high school.

Support and training includes:

  • A focus on long-term academic relationships. Fellows meet with students twice a week during the school day for the entire academic year.
  • Individualized attention that encourages student learning, growth, and confidence.
  • Support for science teachers, including tutoring students in biology before and after school. 

This program is currently located at Stephen T. Mather High School, a CPS school on the northwest side. Fellows also support students with tutoring at Lakeview High School.

Leadership, teachers, and staff at Mather High School identified the transition from eighth to ninth grade as a significant hurdle for students. Research by the Consortium on Chicago School Research corroborates this concern. When students move from eighth to ninth grade, their grades drop, on average, by more than half a letter grade. For some students – even high-achieving ones – grades may decline by two full GPA points. 

To address this challenge, Science in Society researchers, in collaboration with teachers and school leadership, designed and piloted Mather Science Explorers. The pilot in 2015–16 served 15 Mather freshmen. In 2016, the Mather Science Explorers team expanded to five full-time Science in Society Science Education Fellows. These Fellows supported 45 Science Explorers students before, during, and after school; a new cohort of five Fellows supported 42 students in the 2017-2018 school year.


  • Mather Science Explorers has served 102 Mather High School freshmen.


  • This work was previously funded by a grant from the AT&T Foundation.

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