South Side Science Festival

STEM Programs

The University of Chicago offers a broad range of free STEM programs for K-12 students, community college students, educators, and local residents exploring STEM careers.

To learn more about the programs and other community events hosted by UChicago, visit the University’s civic engagement website.

To learn about STEM programs actively accepting applications, subscribe to the University’s civic engagement newsletter.

UChicago is grateful to the many local community organizations participating in the South Side Science Festival by sharing the STEM programs they offer.

To learn more about programs led by our community partners, see below:


  • @rtifice
    • @artifice runs technology focused after-school programs in Woodlawn and Hyde Park. As a volunteer, you’d have the opportunity to engage with students at local middle schools to teach robotics, electronics, and coding. They also offer a maker-space on Stony Island Ave as a place for clubs and students to tinker with electronics and design their own projects.
  • A Bit Different
    • A Bit Different Robotics: Gain hands-on knowledge and ignite passion for robotics and coding. Through their curriculum, participants will not only delve deep into Python programming – a leading language in today’s tech-driven world – but also acquire foundational skills in electrical engineering, design, troubleshooting, and more.
  • AeroStar Avion Institute
    • AeroStar teaches skills necessary to not just participate but lead the next generation of Aerospace STEM innovation. Students are immersed in inquiry-based learning, engineering design projects, they operate flight simulators, remote controlled helicopters, drones, RC airplanes and VR headsets. They also build model airplanes and rockets to specifications. They study and demonstrate extensive knowledge on flight theory, aviation weather, aircraft radio operation, aircraft cockpit instrumentation and STEM careers.
  • Building Bridges, Inc.
    • The Building Self-Awareness Through STEM curriculum shines light on issues that some youth may face, particularly young girls, regarding their appearance. This curriculum features four STEM experiments catered to skin and hair. Youth will learn the biology and chemistry involved in skin and hair products while making their very own to take home.
  • Chicago Council on Science and Technology
    • Science at the Parks: Free, fun, science-themed activities at parks all over Chicago! Kids and their families can learn about different science topics like the night sky and space exploration, identifying different species of birds, plants, and critters in Chicago, the food you eat and how it can affect performance at school and in sports, and different science jobs and what they’re like.
  • Chicago Quantum Exchange
    • K-12 Opportunities: As quantum information science and engineering (QISE) research and technology progresses, several initiatives are underway to introduce future scientists and engineers to this exciting field through outreach, education, and internships.
  • Discovery Partners Institute
    • Discover Computing: A two-part program series designed to build a deeper understanding of computer science (CS) for and support a more diverse pool of individuals pursuing CS and tech-related fields of study in Illinois.
    • Digital Explorers: The Discovery Partners Institute with generous funding from Apple and CME Foundation launches middle-grade programming for students in 6th through 8th grades. Digital Explorers is a two-part series that develops students’ curiosity and knowledge of technology and problem-solving real-world issues. Students will work with DPI staff, high school near peer mentors, and Wright College mentors; and develop skills in problem-solving and team building through human centered design thinking activities.
  • The Field Museum
    • STEM Digital Learning Internship: The Digital Learning Internship will seek out 15  teens from across Chicagoland to participate in a 6-week paid internship focused on research and creative technology. The teens will be introduced to several scientists at the Field Museum and will choose to work with one on an active research project. The interns will also work with Learning Center staff to learn digital media and science communication skills that they’ll leverage to help illuminate the work of their partner scientist.
    • Teen Volunteers: The teen volunteer program is a great way for current high school students to get hands-on experience with many of the things that we do at the Field Museum.  As teen volunteers, teens will do everything from facilitating guest interactions to assisting in the play lab, with plenty of exploration of the sciences mixed in-between.  Teens also experience behind the scenes interactions with our collections meeting scientists, and other museum professionals. Teens are expected to be able to commit to volunteer a total of 10 full days over the course of the summer.
  • Illinois Student Invention Convention
    • The Illinois Student Invention Convention provides free curriculum, mentorship, and competition to K-8th grade students and teachers across the entire state. The program guides students through the invention process from picking a problem they care about to developing an original prototype to sharing out how their invention solves this problem. Students have the opportunity to compete in a series of escalating competitions highlighting their work.
  • Museum of Science & Industry
    • MSI Camps offer hands-on science and engineering single and multi-day camps hosted at the museum.
  • Project Exploration
    • STEAMbassadors teach free, high-quality after school programs to students from K-12th grade. Programs led by STEAMbassadors provide students with hands-on, authentic experiences which will build scientific skills, fuel curiosity, and encourage students to identify themselves as scientists with hands-on science experiments that demonstrate the power and versatility of scientific inquiry.
    • Chief Science Officers (CSOs) are students in grades 6-12 who serve as STEM Ambassadors and a liaison for STEM Opportunities in their communities. They work in tandem with advisors, administrators, and community leaders to amplify student voices and engagement. through the implementations of STEM Action Plans.
    • Youth Science Pathways programs provide students with fun, hands-on experiences that allow them to explore some of the hottest STEM topics and possible future career choices – at no cost to you! If your child is interested in becoming a firefighter, learning to build websites, becoming an astronaut, building remote controlled cars, and more, PE programs are for them! They’ll learn alongside real life mentors and build lasting relationships with PE’s caring team and their friends in programs. With homework help, scholarship opportunities, and other support in place, they’ll thrive and when they graduate join our outstanding alumni network where they can continue to stay in touch as they continue in their education and careers past high school.
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