Adler Planetarium

Champions of Change

Today the White House are hosting an event to celebrate Open Government and Civic Hacking and I'm delighted to be attending on behalf of my colleagues at the Adler in recognition of our activities in this space.

On June 1 and 2 this year the Adler hosted a Youth Focused Civic Hack Day  bringing together civic-minded youth leaders from the city together with filmmakers, mentors, scientists, developers, educators and designers to collaborate (or hack) on technological solutions to civic issues that they and their peers face in daily life. Teams made up of teens, mentors, and hackers spent over 30 total hours coming up with technological solutions for four youth-identified problems.

That wasn't all though! Throughout the day workshops were running on the museum floor for visitors; more than 100 young people had hands-on experiences learning about arduino programming, lock picking, LEGO Mindstorms hacking, and more.

This was our contribution to the National Day of Civic Hacking which saw events in more than 90 US cities thousands of participants nationwide. In the words of the organizers:

"The initiative is a united effort to connect citizens and government in a partnership focused on improving people’s daily lives through technology. This event will bring together techies, entrepreneurs, do-gooders, activists and others like you from across the nation to collaboratively create, build, and invent tools using publicly-released data."

Civic Hacking is about empowering people everywhere to have a hand in solving problems faced by their communities and it embodies a spirit we hold dear at the Adler. Whether it's learning about what the Universe is made up of or visualizing food deserts in Chicago, we believe the most profound of experiences are had when a person can discover and learn through collaborative problem solving with others.

It's an honour to be representing my Adler colleagues today as well as all of our partners who helped make this event happen. Adler's Civic Hack day would not have been possible without the support of our amazing partners including Hive Chicago Learning Network, City of Chicago, Chicago Architecture Foundation, Mikva Challenge, Free Spirit Media and After School Matters.

Watch the event live today at 9:30 am CDT. Learn more about the Champions of Change program. 

On November 9, the Adler will be hosting "Girls Do Hack," a one-day event designed to highlight a group of 48 young women (aged 14 to 18) that STEM careers are an option for their future. Partnering with youth organizations and CPS schools we will bring teams of young women to the Adler to work with mentors all of whom are women working in STEM careers.

Dr. Arfon Smith is director of Citizen Science at the Adler Planetarium. 


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