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Teen Opportunities

A group of Adler Teens posing outside of the Adler and in front of the Chicago skyline.

At the Adler, we believe in the natural curiosity and visionary leadership of Chicago’s youth and strive to create a welcoming space for personal growth and scientific experimentation. Adler Teen Programs provide opportunities for young people to engage deeply with STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math), prepare for a variety of careers, act as community thinkers and change-makers, and meet peers from across the city all while having fun! Sign up for our email list!

Questions? Email youthprograms@adlerplanetarium.org.

Teen Program Offerings

Teen Telescope Ambassadors

Have you ever looked through a telescope? Would you like to learn how to operate telescopes and observe astronomical objects? What about using that expertise to help us bring telescopes to your community?

As part of the Adler Planetarium’s Teen Telescope Ambassadors program, teens will become nighttime observing experts. You’ll learn how to find objects in the night sky and get the opportunity to utilize the Adler’s telescopes to make your own observations of the Moon, planets, and more. As part of a team, you’ll plan community observing events in Chicago neighborhoods to share the opportunity of looking through a telescope with friends, family, and neighbors!

Applications for the next session of Teen Telescope Ambassadors will open in Winter 2021.

Astro-Science Workshop

Astro-Science Workshop (ASW) is a fun, intensive, program about space exploration designed for high school students in the Chicago area. ASW began more than 50 years ago during the space race and the Apollo program, and counts numerous scientists, engineers, business leaders, and a former NASA astronaut as alumni.

ASW encourages participants to consider pursuing careers in science by offering the unique opportunity to work with astronomers, engineers, and educators at the Adler Planetarium. This year’s program will focus on hands-on opportunities related to telescope observing, light pollution, and high-altitude ballooning.

Applications for the 2020 session are now closed.

Summer Internships

Looking for a summer job that will be challenging, fun, and eye-opening? The Adler’s Teen Internship program places current high school students in professional museum roles, from facilitating fun science experiences for visitors to developing instruments to fly on a high altitude balloon! Full information is available in the 2020 Summer Intern resource packet but here are the basics:

  • 20 interns in 5–6 different job roles around the museum
  • $14/hour, 25-hours/week, Monday–Friday from June 29–August 21
  • Museum work experience and professional development

The application deadline for 2020 has passed. 

Questions? Email youthprograms@adlerplanetarium.org.

Operation Airlift

At this design-engineering competition, middle and high school teams will compete with each other to design and build the best possible remotely-controlled airship with peers, adult volunteers, and Adler Planetarium staff.

  • One Saturday in December
  • Students enrolled in middle and high school
  • 10:00 am–4:00 pm
Team Stratonauts

Whether it’s recovering meteorite fragments from the bottom of Lake Michigan or pioneering a cutting-edge urban light pollution study, in Team Stratonauts teens design and build experiments, develop solutions to authentic engineering challenges, and present their work to the general public and members of research communities.

  • October–January
  • Teens 14–18 years old
  • 16 weeks
  • Saturdays, 12:00 pm–4:00 pm
  • Participants receive a stipend and travel support
Youth Organization for Lights Out (YOLO)

This program, based at Little Village Lawndale High School, focuses on light pollution through an environmental justice lens. Teens explore light pollution in their neighborhood and in dark sky sites including the Middle Fork River Forest Preserve and Indiana Dunes National Park.

  • October–December
  • Students enrolled at Little Village Lawndale High School
  • 3 months (twice a week)
  • Tuesdays and Thursdays 4:00 pm–6:00 pm
  • Participants receive a stipend and transportation support
Youth Leadership Council

Council members bring youth voice to the planetarium as they design programs for peers and work with Adler staff to create an institution that is welcoming to Chicago’s young people.

  • October-June
  • Teens ages 14–18
  • 9 months (weekly)
  • Saturdays 10:00 am–2:00 pm
  • Participants receive a stipend and transportation support

The Aquarius Project


In the wee hours of a Monday morning in February of last year, a giant green fireball erupted over Lake Michigan. That fireball was a meteor breaking up in the atmosphere, and the pieces of that meteor are now sitting almost 200 feet below the surface of the lake. In the coming months, an unlikely scientific search-and-rescue team will pile onto a boat, sail out to the crash site, and attempt to retrieve these meteorites.

Learn More

The Adler Planetarium is grateful to the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, the Barker Welfare Foundation, Baxter, The Dover Foundation, Hive Chicago Fund for Connected Learning at The Chicago Community Trust, The Leo S. Guthman Fund, the Pritzker Foundation, S&C Electric Company Foundation, The Siragusa Foundation, and Wells Fargo for supporting teen opportunities.

 

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