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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 STEM (science, technology, engineering, 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

Hangouts - Now Enrolling!

Hangouts is an event series for Chicago teens. We explore young adult professional development, STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, math), and we socialize. We ask questions about the Cosmos that make us say wow while addressing the pressures and ambiguities that are facing teens now.

  • October- June
  • Teens ages 14-19
  • Monthly
  • Participants receive transportation support

Hangouts are free with an RSVP!

If you have any questions or would like to RSVP a group, please email fsowe@adlerplanetarium.org.

Teen Telescope Ambassadors - Now Accepting Applications!

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 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!

  • Teens currently enrolled in high school and at least 15 years old
  • Dates: 3/6, 3/13, 3/20, 3/27, 4/3, 4/17, 4/24, 5/1, and 5/29 (wrap-up session) @ 6:00-9:00 pm*
  • Participants receive CTA passes for transportation support
  • Students who successfully complete the workshop series will earn a $300 stipend (Stipends will be paid at the end of the program)

Interested? Here’s what we’re looking for:

  • A desire to explore the night sky using telescopes
  • Previous knowledge of telescopes or space science is NOT necessary! Anyone enthusiastic to learn about telescopes and excited to support others in learning about space is welcome.
Apply To Become a Teen Telescope Ambassador

Application review will begin on Friday, February 21.

*Note there will also be two or three evening observing events that will take place in May at locations TBA.

Astro-Science Workshop - Now Accepting Applications!

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.

Meeting Schedule:

  • Monday-Friday, July 20 – August 7, 2020
  • 9:00 am – 3:00 pm

Interested? Here’s what we’re looking for:

  • Teens enrolled in 8th-12th grade during the 2019-2020 school year
  • Interested in learning new science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills and passionate about science
  • Team players who collaborate well with peers

Students who successfully complete the workshop series will earn a $300 stipend. Stipends will be paid at the end of the program. College scholarships will be awarded to three qualifying ASW participants. Participants will receive a CTA pass for transportation support.

You can find more information and apply here. Completed applications and references are due Wednesday, April 1.

Summer Internship - Now Accepting Applications!

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 6/29 – 8/21
  • Museum work experience and professional development

Applicants must submit a resume, cover letter, and reference online by Sunday, March 15. Selected applicants invited to interview will need to submit an unofficial high school transcript. It may be submitted with the application materials listed above, or after an invitation to interview is received.

Please review the 2020 Summer Interns resource packet for instructions and tips on how to write these documents before submitting your application.

Questions? Email youthprograms@adlerplanetarium.org.

Apply To Become a Summer Intern
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, 12:00-4:00 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 4:00-6:00 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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