As of this week Sisters4Science is back and going strong in 2013! Middle-school girls in three Chicago public schools can look forward an exciting semester filled with scientific experiments, guest scientists, and lots and lots of discovery.
More than a dozen Project Exploration students showcased their engineering tech skills yesterday morning with Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg during their spring break “Motorama” program. Highlights from that visit appeared on ABC’s 6pm News aand the Chicago Sun Times. Mayor Emanuel and Ms. Sandberg spent nearly an hour with the 15 Project Exploration middle and high school students. They asked questions about what the students were learning, why they attended, and what was challenging. The students in turn asked about what it was like for the Mayor and Ms. Sandberg when they were in school. Ms. Sandberg is visiting Chicago as part of a book tour for her new book, Lean In. After the visit, students debriefed about what it was like to host the guests. “They were very down to earth,” commented the students. “They seemed really interested in what we were doing.” Project Exploration’s Motorama program is part of an immersion into a year-long exploration of engineering. During the week-long program students built and programmed robots, built and fostered high-functioning teams, explored life on a college campus, and showcased their work at a culminating program earlier today. In addition to working with engineers from Project Syncere, students were introduced to chemical engineering with Diane Hickey-Davis, met college admissions recruiters from the Illinois Institute of Technology, and talked about college life with IIT students who attended Chicago Public Schools growing up. This Spring Break Program was supported, in part, by the Motorola Solutions Foundation and Chicago’s Department of Family Support Services and hosted by the Office of Student Access, Success and Diversity Initiatives at IIT. Read more about Project Exploration’s Engineering Pathway in blog posts about students experiences with engineering at NASCAR, computer engineering with Starter [...]
Dear Friends, As the new chair of the board of directors, I am excited to update you on promising developments at Project Exploration. Over the past several months, the board and staff have been focused on mitigating the effects of a cash crisis that occurred in August of 2012, while ensuring that we continue to provide quality programs for youth. A report on the causes of the financial crisis and recommended next steps by an audit taskforce of board members and outside experts is now available upon request. As we move forward, Project Exploration has taken several steps to restructure the organization to continue to provide great programs. They are: The board of directors elected new officers focused on restructuring the organization, taking steps regarding planning, strategy, and financial reporting that will avoid a cash flow crisis in the future. We retained the services of Mission+Strategy to provide technical assistance and provide strategic and operations recommendations as part of a reorganization. Over the next four months, they will work with us to downsize unneeded organization assets, manage liabilities, and direct daily operations. Mission+Strategy’s Alan Goldberg has stepped in as Interim Executive Director, and will work with us through the end of April. Alan brings extensive experience in non-profit management to PE as we move forward. Co-founder Gabrielle Lyon remains deeply involved with Project Exploration. She will serve on the board of directors, and will continue to support external relationships with funders and partners and be a resource to the program team for program planning and implementation. We have hired Natasha Smith-Walker as our new Director of Programs. Natasha is an accomplished educator and manager and well-known in the youth-development and after school communities, including Afterschool [...]
We are excited to announce our PRIVATE AUCTION! Thanks to a generous donor we have four of the hottest tickets in town available for friends of Project Exploration. The auction will run March 11-March 22nd at 5pm CST.
“The way Project Exploration combines youth development and science education is, bar none, the most exciting idea I’ve encountered in a long time,” Natasha says. “Now that I’ve lead some Sisters4Science sessions, it is so clear to me how important and powerful the relationships between the students and us adult role-models is. We’re really engaging them at their level, and that’s why these programs are so successful. I’m really looking forward to meeting more students and seeing this approach at work in different contexts.”
Co-founder and Senior Explorer Gabrielle Lyon has joined Mayor Emmanuel’s newly-formed Technology Industry Diversity Council as co-chair
Natasha Smith-Walker brings over 15 years of experience in youth development and education to Project Exploration. Her career has included classroom teaching and numerous administrative and educational roles in Chicago’s out-of-school time landscape, including serving as Director of Education at the James Jordan Boys and Girls Club and Family Life Center and Mayor Daley’s YouthNet Director in the Rogers Park community. She began her time at After School Matters as a Regional Director, managing two north regional areas for the City and then transitioned to Director of Programs overseeing the day-to-day operations of all programming. As the Director of Special Initiatives she helped develop clear benchmarks with program partners and examine the feasibility of new programs to determine implementation. She has worked on several projects as a private consultant, including a national examination of public sectors in an effort to identify best practices of leadership, and a variety of city-level projects, including Chicago Ideas Week. She has provided technical assistance to small non-profits, specializing in developing quality assurance strategies, program operations, board development, and strategic planning. She has a BA from University of Illinois at Chicago and earned her project management certification(PMP) from DePaul University. “The way Project Exploration combines youth development and science education is, bar none, the most exciting idea I’ve encountered in a long time,” Natasha says. “Now that I’ve lead some Sisters4Science sessions, it is so clear to me how important and powerful the relationships between the students and us adult role-models is. We’re really engaging them at their level, and that’s why these programs are so successful. I’m really looking forward to meeting more students and seeing this approach at work in different contexts.” We already know that the Sisters4Science [...]
Hello everyone, the 2013 theme for the Winter Science Exploration was Extreme Mammals, based on an exhibit at The Field Museum. The guest speaker was Christopher Schell, a graduate student at University of Chicago with a degree in evolutionary biology. He works at the Lincoln Park Zoo and the Field Museum. Christopher studies the urban coyotes of Chicago.
Mammals, mammals, EVERYWHERE! Project Exploration’s annual Winter Science Exploration took place on January 5. While past topics touched on subjects like forensics, oceanography, squid, and forensics it was time for students to explore something near and dear to them – mammals. However, Project Exploration students didn’t just learn about mammals , they dived into the world of EXTREME MAMMALS!
After an action-packed day of discussion, connection, and creation, the groups came together to share what they’d learned, and discuss next steps. The big lessons from the report-outs can be viewed in our blog post about the breakouts themselves, but there was a palpable sense of wanting to race ahead in partnership, making science accessible, and using it to inspire, educate and support youth in our community.