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History of the Education Department

Herman S. Pepoon teaching class of children in early 1900s

By 1900, the Chicago Academy of Sciences had established itself as the leading educational resource for area teachers and students.

It developed teaching programs, not only for students, but also continuing education and certification for teachers that focused on understanding and interpreting the natural sciences. It established a Children’s Library to promote science education and engage young people in the study of natural sciences. In the 1960s, the Academy introduced the Junior Academy of Sciences, aimed at middle and high school children to provide additional learning opportunities, and in 1983, an Education Department was formally established.

The Nature Museum’s education department continues to honor this legacy by providing science and nature education of the highest quality. By offering more than 50 unique programs at the Museum and out in the schools and communities, our 78,000 contact hours reach 1,700 teachers every year. Through outreach, on-site programming and out of school time opportunities for students and teachers throughout Chicago, educators are able to make a big impact on the community by building knowledge, skills, interest, and enthusiasm in STEM topics. Education programs are founded in a hands-on, inquiry-based approach to connecting our audiences to nature and science.

Schools and teachers are served through teacher professional development courses, Field Trip Workshops for students, resources for loan in the Teacher Leadership Center (TLC), and outreach programming where the Nature Museum comes to you. Programs and curricula are aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards, and in 2014, the Nature Museum was recognized as a high-quality provider of Teacher Professional Development by Chicago Public Schools.

In addition to school programs, out-of-school time learning opportunities are offered year-round. TEENS (Teenagers Exploring and Explaining Nature and Science) provides opportunities for Chicago high school students to practice environmental stewardship while learning valuable job skills. After school programs engage students with Museum collections and specimens and teach students what it means to be a scientist; and Winter and Summer Camps enhance critical thinking and problem solving skills while cultivating a love for nature.

To learn more about the education programs and opportunities the Museum offers, visit the Schools & Teachers page, or check out our current programming for this school year, by clicking on one of the buttons below.

Schools & Teachers     2019/2020 Education Programs Brochure

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