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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!

Teen Program Offerings

Youth Leadership Council (YLC)

The YLC is an advocacy and leadership development opportunity for young people with an interest in centering the contributions of teens within the museum community.

This year’s council will continue to develop and oversee the newly created youth-led project, “BLACK HOLE: Teen Voices at the Adler.” Created by Teens for Teens, “BLACK HOLE: Teen Voices at the Adler” is a teen-centered event that combines creative expression, critical thinking, and radical imagination to examine topics that are most relevant to teens, and our society at large.

While the YLC is not a hands-on STEAM program, as a council member you’ll have access to STEAM professionals and resources that align with your interest in space science. You’ll also have the opportunity to learn what it’s like to work behind the scenes of a (virtual) science museum. Membership on the YLC is a serious commitment of time, energy, and contribution of ideas that runs through the duration of the school year. All participants are eligible to earn a paid stipend.

Applications For The 2020 – 2021 School Year Are Closed

Youth Organization for Lights Out (YOLO)

“The nights are getting brighter, and earth is paying the cost” But just how dark is the night sky? Y.O.L.O. is where hands-on STEAM learning and environmental justice collide to answer this question. As a member of Y.O.L.O. you will learn about light pollution and its impact on human health, natural environments, and your communities through science and advocacy. By researching the night sky from Chicago’s Black and Brown neighborhoods, and National Park sites, Y.O.L.O members create opportunities to educate and raise awareness about the need for municipal change. Y.O.L.O. membership is a serious commitment of time, energy, and contribution of ideas that runs through the duration of the school year.
All participants are eligible to earn a paid stipend.

Applications For The 2020 – 2021 School Year Are Closed

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 next session of Astro-Science Workshop will open in Spring 2021.

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!

Applications for the next session of the Summer Internship will open in Spring 2021.

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.

Due to COVID-19, Operation Airlift is canceled for the 2020-2021 school year.

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.

  • January – May
  • Teens 14–18 years old
  • 16 weeks
  • Saturdays, 12:00–4:00 pm
  • Participants receive a stipend and travel support

Applications for the next session of Team Stratonauts will open in Winter 2020.

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

Thanks To Our Sponsors

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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