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2014 Family Science Days

Science for Everyone

Explore interactive science exhibits, learn about cool science jobs, and have your questions answered by scientists! Family Science Days are FREE and open to all.

This free community science showcase features hands-on demos, shows, and other activities appropriate for K-12 children and their families. The event features a broad range of educators and scientists promoting an interest in science among the general public.



Saturday, February 15

11:30 a.m.
Climate Change and Chicago’s Critters, Plants, and People
Animalia Project/Chicago Wilderness

12:00 p.m.
Don’t Choke: Getting It Right Under Pressure
Sian Beilock
Professor of Psychology, University of Chicago

12:30 p.m.
Your Brain on Video Games
Daphne Bavelier
Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, University of Rochester and University of Geneva

1:00 p.m.
The Power of the Crowd
Adler Planetarium

1:30 p.m.
The Power of Wind!
Argonne National Labs

2:00 p.m.
Teaching Computers to Make the World Better
Rayid Ghani
Research Director, Computation Institute, University of Chicago

2:30 p.m.
Mr. Freeze!
Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory

3:00 p.m.
Art Meets Science: Picasso at the Nanoscale
Volker Rose
Physicist, Argonne National Laboratory

3:30 p.m.
Cloudy with a 50% Chance of Precipitation
How the Weather Works

4:00 p.m.
The Mysteries of Mass and Matter
Marcela Carena
Senior Scientist, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, and Professor of Physics,
University of Chicago


Sunday, February 16

11:30 a.m.
Feces Save Species
Rachel Santymire
Director, Davee Center for Epidemiology and Endocrinology, Lincoln Park Zoo

12:00 p.m.
Cheetah-inspired Running Robots: Learning from Nature
Sangbae Kim
Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

12:30 p.m.
Science Savvy & Experimental Ingenuity
University of Wisconsin Biotechnology Center

1:00 p.m.
The Power of the Crowd
Adler Planetarium

1:30 p.m.
World Numbers: A Sensory Tour

2:00 p.m.
Wacky Weather and the Melting Arctic: Are They Connected?
Jennifer Francis
Research Professor, Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers University

2:30 p.m.
It’s Not Magic, It’s Science
Northern Illinois University STEM Outreach

3:00 p.m.
Future Energy: Taking On Humankind’s Greatest Challenge
Seth Darling
Scientist, Center for Nanoscale Materials, Argonne National Laboratory

3:30 p.m.
Computer Science Magic
Illinois Computes

4:00 p.m.
Active Explorer

* This schedule is subject to change.



American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
AAAS is the world’s largest general scientific society. The Active Explorer project is just one of the many ways that AAAS gets children and adults engaged and excited by the science all around us.

Adler Planetarium
Inspiring wonder in the Chicago public since 1930, the Adler Planetarium was dedicated to the city by business leader Max Adler. For 83 years, the Adler has used its world-class collections, interactive exhibitions, state-of-the-art theaters, and innovative educational programs to share the marvel of science and exploration with the general public. Today, with active astronomy and citizen science departments, the Adler is leading the way in the changing face of 21st century public engagement with research.

American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB)
Plants are an important part of daily life! Meet plant scientists and talk about cool things plants do for us, each other, and the world. Try some hands-on activities using plants and take home some free resources to explore basic principles and core concepts of life science. Our resources are suitable for anyone who has ever needed plants—and that’s everyone!

Animalia Project
Animalia Project helps people understand the connections between wild animals, human animals and our shared environment. Animalia Project offers fun, science-based activities that help kids learn about the natural world. We help adults learn, too, through training programs for educators, design professionals, and the public. Weaving science and education with hands-on work, Animalia Project mends the rift between the built habitat and the natural world by drawing on ecological relationships to create a better environment for all of us.

Argonne National Laboratory
The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline to solve the nation’s energy, environmental, and security challenges. Argonne applies a unique mix of world-class user facilities and leading scientific and engineering staff to develop innovative solutions to the grand challenges of our time: plentiful and safe energy, a healthy environment, economic competitiveness, and a secure nation.

Association for Women in Science (AWIS)-Chicago, University of Illinois at Chicago Department of Computer Science, and Women in Science & Engineering
The AWIS-Chicago chapter is a nonprofit organization that provides a platform for connection, career development, and support for women in the sciences in Chicago through its programs and in partnership with other groups in the community. One such collaboration is with the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), both with the Department of Computer Science, one of its leading research departments, and with Women in Science & Engineering. AWIS-Chicago and UIC are committed to increasing participation of young women in science and technology through outreach activities and other initiatives.

Baxter International Inc.- Science@Work and Office of STEM Education Partnerships- Northwestern University
Baxter’s Science@Work education initiative provides hands-on science education opportunities, especially in biotechnology, for Chicago Public Schools students and teachers, including teacher professional development, career days, and problem-based learning projects. They have teamed up with the Office of STEM Education Partnerships (OSEP) at Northwestern University to provide hands-on lab activities focused on biotechnology education. OSEP connects teachers and students to the world-class STEM resources of Northwestern University and its many industry and community partners. OSEP programs include professional development for teachers, curriculum materials and learning technologies, and inquiry-based STEM learning programs for students. Stop by to learn more about biotech and meet Baxter and Northwestern scientists!

Brookfield Zoo
Brookfield Zoo is just 15 miles west of downtown Chicago with over 200 acres and more than 2,000 animals. Fun and exciting exhibits and attractions, accessible by public transportation, connect you to wildlife and nature 365 days a year.

Elmhurst College Chemistry Department
The Elmhurst College Chemistry Department has small classes, caring faculty, and fun, hard-working students. Students in the program learn practical skills as well as foundational facts and theories in chemistry. Laboratory skills, particularly the use of instrumentation, effective use of computers, and real-world problem solving and experimental design are emphasized in major classes. Information literacy and oral and written communication and skills are emphasized in the seminar program required of all majors.

Chicago Academy of Sciences and Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
The Chicago Academy of Sciences and its Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum serve as an urban gateway to the world of nature and science. The mission of the academy and its museum is to create a positive relationship between people and nature through collaborations, education, research and collections, exhibits, and public forums that foster urban connections to our region’s nature and science. Through habitat restoration, exhibitions, and one of the region’s largest environmental education programs, the museum promotes nature and science understanding and inspires people to take actions that improve quality of life in the region

Chicago Botanic Garden
Chicago Botanic Garden’s mission is to promote the enjoyment, understanding, and conservation of plants and the natural world.

Chicago Public Schools (CPS)
CPS, led by a team of committed, distinguished, and highly accomplished individuals working to improve the education of Chicago children, is the third largest school district in the United States. The CPS vision is that every Chicago Public Schools student in every neighborhood will be engaged in a rigorous, well-rounded, instructional program and will graduate prepared for college, career, and life.

Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory
Fermilab is America’s particle physics laboratory. Its vision is to inspire the world and enable its scientists to solve the mysteries of matter, energy, space, and time for the benefit of all. Its mission is to drive discovery in particle physics by building and operating world-leading accelerator and detector facilities, performing pioneering research with global partners, and transforming technologies for science and industry.

How The Weatherworks
How The Weatherworks (HTWW) is a recognized leader in helping learners of all ages understand weather. HTWW provides online content material, offers in-school field trip programs, and leads teacher workshops focusing on weather and related disciplines. HTWW also spearheads a national summer weather camp program mostly for middle and high school students interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and/or meteorology. The HTWW principals have also published several books on extreme weather and weather experiments.

iBIO Institute EDUCATE Center
The iBIO Institute’s EDUCATE Center connects Illinois classrooms with the real world of biotechnology and science-based industry, hands-on lab activities, tours of industry research and development facilities, and authentic, interdisciplinary, problem-based learning experiences. As teachers and districts develop new curricula to meet the Common Core and the Next Generation Science Standards, EDUCATE programs bring cutting-edge science from regional biotech companies to develop world-competitive educators and inspire student interest in science. The only organization of its type in Illinois, the EDUCATE Center plays an essential role by investing in the people who will drive our community’s biotech future.

Illinois Computes/Loyola University
Illinois Computes is dedicated to broadening participation in computing, helping to fill an important national need and one that is particularly pressing in the Chicago area. Illinois Computes is currently maintained through the Computer Science Department at Loyola University. The organization was initially funded by the National Science Foundation as a consortium involving Loyola University Chicago, University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Illinois Institute of Technology.

Illinois Geometry Lab (IGL)
IGL is a facility at the University of Illinois Mathematics Department focusing on mathematical visualization and community engagement. At the lab, undergraduate students work closely with graduate students and postdocs on visualization projects set forth by faculty members, and bring mathematics to the community through school visits and other activities. IGL’s passion for mathematics extends beyond the walls of the classroom, with a strong interest in the education of students in schools in our community and the state of Illinois, and through online resources, students all around the world.

John G. Shedd Aquarium
At Shedd Aquarium, animals connect you to the living world, inspiring you to make a difference. The Shedd Aquarium engages, inspires, entertains, and informs. It is a vital teaching and learning resource, conservation leader, neighborhood partner, and global collaborator. The aquarium is passionate about animals, their habitats, and the planet we share. The Daniel P. Haerther Center for Conservation and Research engages in a diverse suite of conservation and research programs to save and sustain wild animals, demonstrate our commitment to the living world, and inspire the public to become environmental stewards and protect aquatic life for future generations.

Lincoln Park Zoo
Lincoln Park Zoo, a historic Chicago landmark founded in 1868, is dedicated to connecting people with nature by providing a free, family-oriented wildlife experience. A leader in conservation science both globally and locally, the zoo exemplifies the highest quality animal care and educational outreach. The nonprofit zoo, managed by The Lincoln Park Zoological Society, is a member-supported organization and one of the nation’s only free, privately managed zoos.

Mind Trekkers
Mind Trekkers’ mission is to uncover the mysteries of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) for students of all ages. Mind Trekkers activities will push you to discover the wow! of hands-on learning. Can you walk on water? Make ice cream in 60 seconds? Make a magnet float in mid-air, no strings attached! Let Mind Trekkers be your guide as you explore the excitement of STEM!

Middle School Teacher Quality Enrichment (MSQTE), Northeastern Illinois University
MSTQE is the middle-level pre-service program for math and science teachers, as a collaborative effort between Northeastern Illinois University and the City Colleges of Chicago (Wright College and Truman College). MSTQE produces quality educators who serve primarily in the Chicago Public Schools. The program is built on a series of math-science linked course pairs and stresses lab and other hands-on activities that alumni then use in their classrooms. The booth will be staffed by faculty, students, and alumni of the program.

Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago (MSI)
MSI, the largest science center in the Western Hemisphere, is home to more than 35,000 artifacts and nearly 14 acres of hands-on experiences designed to spark scientific inquiry and creativity. MSI’s vision is to inspire and motivate children to achieve their full potential in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and medicine. The museum houses a state-of-the-art digital fabrication laboratory, a modern workshop for computer-based innovation, design, and fabrication. The Fab Lab allows you to dream up, design, and make almost anything, using computer software and cutting-edge machines. Stop by and try your hands at design and fabrication with the tools and machines of the Fab Lab!

National User Facility Organization (NUFO)
NUFO represents the interests of all users who conduct research at U.S. national scientific user facilities, as well as scientists from U.S. universities, laboratories, and industry who use similar facilities outside the United States. Its mission is to facilitate communication among users, user organizations, facility administrators, and other stakeholders on topics of importance to the facilities. These topics include publicizing the benefits and significance of research conducted at user facilities, as well as conveying their operational needs. Fundamentally, NUFO strives to provide a unified message at the national level on issues of resources for scientific work, economic competitiveness enabled by advances in science and technology, and education of the next-generation scientific workforce.

Northeastern Illinois University Society of Physics Students (SPS)
SPS is a professional association explicitly designed for students. Membership, through collegiate chapters, is open to anyone interested in physics. The only requirement for membership is that you be interested in physics. Besides physics majors, our members include majors in chemistry, computer science, engineering, geology, mathematics, medicine, and other fields.

Northern Illinois University (NIU) STEM Outreach
NIU STEM Outreach delivers off-campus programs and on-campus activities designed to increase science, technology, engineering, and mathematics literacy and enthusiasm among P-12 students, their families, and educators. It offers hands-on programs and demonstrations at schools and libraries, Saturday enrichment programs for individuals, summer residential and day programs, and STEM Cafes for adults. At its largest event, STEMfest, NIU STEM student groups join NIU faculty and regional STEM leaders to fill NIU’s Convocation Center with hundreds of STEM investigations and displays.

Northwestern University Science in Society (SiS)
SiS is Northwestern University’s office for science outreach and public engagement, designed to leverage the university’s scientific expertise and resources for the betterment of the community. SiS partners with a variety of civic organizations to develop innovative, rigorously evaluated programs promoting scientific interest, curiosity, and understanding. Common to all SiS programs is a focus on training scientists to be effective communicators and educators. SiS trains dozens of researchers each year in scientific writing and speaking, program evaluation, and best practices in community engagement. This enables them to effectively share their knowledge and expertise in a community-centered way.

NumbersAlive! is an interdisciplinary program that helps children embrace math and science from a very young age. Developed by Dr. Rebecca Klemm, a.k.a. The Numbers Lady, NumbersAlive! combines 3-dimensional plush numbers, books, and technology with observation and reasoning, so that children with different abilities and learning styles are able to process simple to complex concepts. Because they are learning through engaging and non-stressful activities, children are motivated to discover math and science in everyday life while developing problem-solving and scientific inquiry skills.

Project Exploration
Project Exploration is a nonprofit science education organization that works to ensure communities traditionally overlooked by science—particularly minority youth and girls—have access to personalized experiences with science and scientists. The youth programs impact the lives of hundreds of students each year by fostering a long-term involvement in science, and are supported by public programs that provide a window into science in action through exhibits, online initiatives, and contributions to the field of science in out-of-school time./p>

THE THINK TANK at University of Chicago
THE THINK TANK is a mobile neuroscience lab and education station, powered by the Experience and Cognition Lab at The University of Chicago to accelerate diverse participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

University of Wisconsin-Madison Biotechnology Center
The University of Wisconsin-Madison Biotechnology Center’s outreach program welcomes visitors to campus to experience science as exploring the unknown. Field trips, tours, and hands-on workshops let learners of all ages hone their science savvy.

University of Wisconsin Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (UW MRSEC)
Renewable energy, food safety, and high-speed computers are some of the human issues being addressed by materials scientists and engineers at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. The UW MRSEC Education Group develops activities inspired by this research to excite all learners about the power and potential of materials science to change the world. The booth will present several engaging, hands-on activities based upon cutting-edge research being done in University of Wisconsin laboratories. These activities cover topics ranging from sensors that detect environmental contaminants to using lasers to gather information about the world around us.