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Our Education team has been busy! Here’s a look at some of our 2015 summer programs for students and families.

Summer Camps

In 2015, CAC hosted its first summer camps ever. These camps invited children ages 7 to 18 to explore the built environment, and learn first-hand why design matters. Under the guidance of our enthusiastic designers and educators, campers solved design challenges and made models using technology and art materials. Our camps inspired teamwork and creative problem-solving, helped build self-confidence and visual thinking and provided opportunities for young people to communicate ideas using a variety of media.

Camps ranged from three days to one week. Campers worked inside CAC’s ArcelorMittal Design Studio and went outside every day to explore the city with building tours and educator-led walks. Several camps explored iconic Chicago spaces and parks, and then used the video game Minecraft to solve challenges in building design. Our “Get Built!” camp gave teens a chance to meet industry professionals on site visits. They also worked on team-based design concepts for a new Obama Library, which they chose to place in Washington Park. Another camp introduced younger kids to building materials and helped them understand what makes buildings stand up and how people use buildings.

Rodgers Teen Fellows

Only 16 percent of registered architects are women and only two percent are black or African-American. To address this lack of diversity and opportunity, we spent time in 2015 with a group of students who are designing a new three-year flagship teen program. This working group, the Rodgers Teen Fellows (in memory of Robert D. “Uncle Bob” Rodgers), held a week-long retreat at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin. They presented their program curriculum at a culminating showcase in August. Afterward, the students and their families were hosted on the Chicago Architecture Center River Cruise aboard Chicago’s First Lady Cruises.

Teen Interns

Through our partnership with After School Matters, we hosted four teen interns in our Education Department. These high school students worked 15 hours per week over the summer, as camp counselors and activity facilitators at citywide festivals. They contributed significantly to our efforts to reach more students and families—and, along the way, they learned a lot about themselves, their interests and how to work with each other. 

Millennium Park Family Fun Tent

Each summer, organizations from across the city come together to offer free, family-friendly activities to the public at the Millennium Park Family Fun Tent. During a very hot stretch of July, our education team facilitated an exciting week of architecture and design related activities in the giant tent installed in Millennium Park. Our staff developed activities for all ages, including one called Paper City that encouraged kids to evaluate what kinds of buildings and services were important to a city (like firehouses, police stations and libraries) and then create them with paper. CAC interacted with more than 1,500 kids during this event. 

Google Geek Street Chicago

In 2015, this Google-sponsored fair was held in Chicago for the first time. It was designed to bring science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education to kids everywhere. CAC and other cultural institutions put together a roster of fun, engaging activities for students. Our activity asked kids to build a Rube Goldberg machine—a machine engineered to perform a task through a series of chain reactions. Our goal was to demonstrate the design concept of interconnected systems. A second activity prompted students to explore building principles through Minecraft. The event was featured in US News and World Report and the Chicago Tribune for its work in making STEM education more visible and accessible. As Gabe Lyon, CAC’s Vice President of Education and Experience, told the Chicago Tribune, “STEM is not an activity that happens behind closed doors; it’s really got to be a public endeavor.”