A group of high school students from Chicago’s Von Steuben Metropolitan Science Center had an eight-day opportunity this summer to explore power in various forms through the Opt4STEM Energy Academy. Opt4STEM (The STEM Partnership for College Success Program) is a year-round programming partnership between Von Steuben, Exelon, and Illinois Tech that provides Von Steuben students with a foundation to pursue degrees in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields.
“To achieve the mission of the partnership, we provide the Von Steuben students a wide range of over 100 STEM enrichment, college and career, and leadership activities throughout the year,” says Opt4STEM Director Megan Campanile (M.Ed ’08, Ph.D. ’16).
In the Energy Academy, held July 11–20, the students participated in tours, lectures, and hands-on activities at Exelon, the ComEd Training Center, and Illinois Tech’s Mies Campus, among other sites. In addition to visiting solar and natural gas plants, and a nuclear power station courtesy of Exelon, students conducted an energy audit and built energy-efficient model houses at Illinois Tech. Students followed a strict building code that included having at least one door that opened and closed, insulation that could not exceed 3 centimeters in thickness, and an attic.
A selective cohort of Von Steuben scholars is currently enrolled in the 2018–19 Opt4STEM Leadership Academy. Through their participation in seminars and workshops along with the completion of a final project, students become more confident and knowledgeable leaders. A number of the students are paired with Illinois Tech undergraduate mentors throughout the program.
Photo courtesy of Megan Campanile (M.Ed ’08, Ph.D. ’16)