Three institutions on the Museum Campus are hosting a free open house for teens this weekend to draw more high schoolers to the lakefront museums.
The planetarium has hosted an open house for teens every fall for the past three years, but this is the first time it is joining forces with the Field Museum and aquarium with the aim of increasing attendance and exposure to teen programs, said Adler spokeswoman Jen Furey.
“It really is about getting teens excited about science and helping them do hands-on, minds-on science experiments to really get their minds flowing as to what they can do,” Furey said. Ultimately, it’s about encouraging teens to consider professions in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math, she said.
Last September, 50 students attended the planetarium’s Fall Fiesta open house held on a weekday after school, she said.
On Saturday, teens at the planetarium can check out the telescope at the Doane Observatory, participate in a rocket engineering challenge and register for a workshop that teaches them how to design and code video games. Last school year, roughly 1,000 teens participated in Adler programs, and even more showed up to neighborhood events such as ‘Scopes in the City, a free program that allows people to observe space using telescopes, Furey said.
If space exploration isn’t for them, teens can head to the Field Museum or Shedd Aquarium.
At the Field Museum, which is granting free basic admission to all Illinois residents Saturday, teens can visit the Grainger Digital Media Studio equipped with 3-D printers, design their own field notebook and learn about programs like curioCITY, in which scientists explore the connections between science and culture. For example, one curioCITY event last May centered on food and featured chef Graham Elliot and anthropologist William Parkinson.
At the Shedd, teens can meet a live lizard, spider and bird at the Teen Learning Lab, which is a space students can work on school projects and meet potential mentors. They also can explore the rest of the aquarium and find out more about its stewardship program.
The Shedd has hosted several teen events in the past, but the open house is the first joint Museum Campus event for the aquarium, according to Shedd spokeswoman Christina O’Connell.
“The goal is to promote teen spaces and programs on campus. We’ve encouraged our teens to bring a friend with them this weekend so new people feel comfortable attending,” she said.