Teen Opportunities

Teen Opportunities

The Adler’s Teen Programs focus on providing technical and professional skills, mentorship, and a welcoming learning environment for Chicago high school students of all backgrounds, interests, and abilities. We offer internships, workshops, after-school programs, and more. Whether you’re building a website, programming a robot, blogging about current space science, or facilitating a workshop for other teens, you’ll make an impact here!

Want to stay up to date about our teen programs? Sign up for our email list!

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.

What's Going On?

After School Teen Hangouts

Relax. Reboot. Rewire. Join the Adler Planetarium’s teen programs team after school! You can participate in cool hands-on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) projects, do homework, or just hang out!

Hangouts are every Wednesday beginning October 10, 2018, at the Doane Observatory from 4:00-7:00 pm during the Chicago Public Schools academic year. Snacks and CTA passes are provided. No need to sign-up, just drop on in!

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.

What's Coming Up?

FAFSA Workshop

Attention high school seniors! Monday, October 1, is the first day you can fill out your FAFSA application for college.
We’ll here to assist you on the first day the FAFSA application is open! To participate, you’ll need to bring select sensitive information with you and we suggest bringing them in one folder, if possible.

To complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you will need:

  • Your Social Security Number
  • Your federal income tax returns, W-2s, and other records of money earned (Note: You may be able to transfer your federal tax return information into your FAFSA using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool)
  • Bank statements and records of investments (if applicable)
  • Records of untaxed income (if applicable)
  • An FSA ID to sign electronically

If you are a dependent student, then you will also need most of the above information for your parent(s). Hope to see you there!

Adler Youth Leadership Council

YOUTH + VOICE + POWER = The Adler Planetarium Youth Leadership Council!

Adler’s Youth Leadership Council provides dedicated young people the opportunity to take a more active role within the Adler Planetarium. Youth Leadership Council members work to increase awareness about the positive impact of youth-driven programs, extend the reach of youth influence on internal and external museum projects, serve as a liaison between the Adler organization and communities at large, and to increase Adler’s circle of influence to spark empowerment of more young leaders though STEAM learning experiences. WHO’S READY!?

Applications are due Friday, September 28.

* Selected applicants will be contacted to schedule a phone interview.

Meeting Schedule

Saturdays, 10:00 am-2:00 pm throughout the school year.

Interested? Here’s what we look for:

  • Currently enrolled in grade high school
  • Have a curiosity about S.T.E.A.M. education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math)
  • Have a desire to identify your current leadership strengths and to build on them
  • Want to contribute to the vitality of the youth community at Adler
  • Want to develop ideas that inspire and motivate others


Youth Leadership Council members receive a $600 stipend for their service on the council. The stipend is paid in installments over the course of the school year, and according to each individual’s active participation. Council members are required to attend weekly of the program sessions to receive the full stipend amount.


CTA passes provided

For more information please contact us at youthprograms@adlerplanetarium.org.

Game-Making Workshops

During the Adler Planetarium’s Game-Making workshops, you will investigate game design fundamentals, such as how levels and characters are designed to teach players how to survive in a game’s world. Why do more experienced players have a tendency to want to destroy things, while newer players often choose building-based routes? How can a developer use code and logic to predict how a player will act or respond?

Along with the valuable STEM experience you will gain through coding their own games using GameMaker Studio, you’ll learn how to design sprites (single-entity graphics), narratives, sound effects, and more. The technologies you’ll be introduced to will be free or low-cost and accessible so that you’ll be able to take your game design skills beyond the classroom.

Applications are due Monday, September 24.

Meeting Schedule

Workshops will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:00-7:00 pm, beginning on October 2. Optional Lab sessions will be held from 4:30-7:00 pm on Fridays. (The workshops will not meet on the Thursday or Friday of Thanksgiving Break.)

The workshops will culminate in a final arcade event on the evening of December 14.

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

  • Currently enrolled in high school
  • Interest in storytelling and design, and in about learning how these topics impact the people who interact with them
  • Creative ideas—how will you make a game that’s not like any game you’ve seen before?
  • A desire to explore multiple different types of game forms, such as digital, analog, and tabletop
  • Previous coding experience is NOT necessary. Some of our best designers have been writers, visual artists, and performers.


Students who successfully complete the workshop series will earn a $300 stipend. Stipends will be paid in two installments.


CTA passes provided

Team Stratonauts

Ever code and wire a sensor to capture data from your own neighborhood, then use your findings to make a better world?! Ever design and 3D print a work of genius that can travel to the edge of space? Ever program a tiny computer, then send it on an underwater journey to discover, detect, and retrieve pieces of space?

No? Well, now you can try these and other projects! And we can teach you how.

Team Stratonauts is a teen-focused, curiosity-driven cohort of high school aged science pioneers, part of the Far Horizons program (The Adler’s near space exploration program). Not only will participants learn important STEM skills (3D Printing, Computer Aided Design, Data Analysis, Coding, Soldering, High Altitude Ballooning), but they will also be learning alongside Adler STEM Professionals. Learn as a team, build as a team, explore as a team!

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

  • Currently enrolled in high school and at least 15 years old
  • Interest in creative problem solving and learning through hands-on science exploration
  • A desire to explore multiple different types of digital and physical tools, including but not limited to, soldering, drill press, Arduino, TinkerCAD, Fusion360, Makerbot, GoPro, and Adobe Suite
  • Previous coding experience is NOT necessary. All this program requires is an open mind, a willingness to fail, and the perseverance to keep trying new things!


Students who successfully complete the workshop series will earn a $300 stipend. Stipends will be paid in two installments.


CTA passes provided

Learn more here!

Youth Organization for Lights Out (YOLO)

Did you know that beautiful orange glow from downtown is actually light pollution? How many stars can you see in your backyard?

Adler Planetarium’s Youth Organization for Lights Out (Y.O.L.O.) is a light pollution awareness, civic action and service-learning program at World Language High School in Little Village. The program is currently an after-school program with an in-class component.

In the classroom: Students learn about the causes and effects of light pollution.

After school club: Students bring awareness to the community by:

  • Observing streetlight changes made by the city of Chicago in their neighborhood;
  • Learning how to use a telescope for solar viewing; and
  • Presenting at the Adler’s annual Earth Fest on why it is important to reduce light pollution

This environmental issue needs your help to reduce light pollution!