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Friday, October 7 • 9:00am - 10:30am
Creating Teen Community Spaces at Museums

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Motivated to foster new levels of access to museums for Chicagoland youth, the Teen Learning Lab at Shedd Aquarium, Adler Teen Hangouts at Adler Planetarium and Open Studio at The Field Museum are designed to connect teens with projects, exhibits and mentors through drop-in programming, workshops and interest-driven project support. These digitally-focused, out-of-school spaces devoted to teens are free, drop-in and built around the Connected Learning principles.

Session participants will learn about the launch of these new teen spaces including unique successes and challenges from each presenting organization. Participants will also explore hands-on activities typical of these drop-in spaces.

The Teen Learning Lab at Shedd Aquarium
Shedd Aquarium's Teen Learning Lab is a free space where teens can explore their curiosities about science, animals and the natural world by collaborating on existing programs or designing their own projects. Developed by teens for teens, the lab is a hub for students to hang out, play around and geek out with other science-minded peers while also utilizing a wide range of technology. Since its launch in fall 2013, the Teen Learning Lab has welcomed more than 1400 Chicagoland high school students, many of whom are frequent visitors to the interest-driven space.

Adler Teen Hangouts at Adler Planetarium
After almost five years of developing informal learning programs for high schoolers, the Adler Planetarium started hosting weekly Teen Hangouts in Fall 2014. At Adler Teen Hangouts, Chicago teens can explore STE(A)M skills, do homework and meet new friends. Staff curated programming includes making music using space sounds and creating stop-motion animations of alien sculptures. Hangouts are a natural mentoring space where students seek out Adler staff for help on projects and information about scholarships and college. In our first year (2014-15) of Hangouts, an average of 12 students attended weekly, with 57 unique students attending for the year. In our second year, the weekly average is 14 students, with a marked increase in students who have gone on to participate in other Adler teen programs.

Open Studio at The Field Museum
The Field Museum launched its Open Studio in Fall 2015 to invite teens to explore the natural and cultural world at their own pace. Programs explore the breadth of science and social sciences researched at The Field and quickly engage teens in exploratory play and making activities. Open Studio programs are causal programs which introduce teens to the museum and provide on-ramps to other more intensive teen programs. In Open Studio, activities center around a theme including exploration of the physical space in and around the Museum where youth are invited to use the technology in the Studio to interpret the museum and make meaningful digital artifacts. Examples of past programs include using Arduinos to monitor the Museum's community garden and designing shadow puppets as inspired by the Museum's China Hall exhibit. The Studio space was originally conceived of as a digital classroom, and is currently being redesigned by the Museum's Youth Council for a more teen-friendly look and feel.


Friday October 7, 2016 9:00am - 10:30am
Emerald Bay C

Attendees (12)