The Museum of Science & Industry (M.S.I.) in Chicago will launch the free Summer Brain Games on Monday, June 22, 2015. Sponsored by Whole Foods Market Chicago, the program runs through Sunday, August 16, 2015.
A spokeswoman stated, “Blast off into space with the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago as it launches its free, online Summer Brain Games program on June 22. The eight-week, space-themed program will keep kids combating the “summer brain drain” with astronauts, astronomy and other space science and engineering concepts through weekly at-home experiments. ”
She added, “Every Summer Brain Games registrant will receive a voucher good for a FREE Museum Entry to MSI this summer. Registration is now open via: msichicago.org/programs/summer-brain-games/register/.”
In a press release, the Museum of Science + Industry stated, “MSI once again is offering families the opportunity to keep kids engaged and have some fun together with its annual Summer Brain Games program. Thousands of registrants from around the country have enjoyed the program the past three summers, participating in eight weeks of free and fun at-home science experiments designed to combat the ‘summer brain drain.’”
Families receive a FREE Museum Entry voucher when they sign up online at msichicago.org/summerbrain (one ticket per household). They’ll also receive weekly emails with detailed instructions on eight different space-themed science activities, which can be easily done (with some adult supervision) using items found around the house or inexpensively purchased…
The free Summer Brain Games activity guide is available in both English and Spanish and can be downloaded at msichicago.org/summerbrain starting June 22. The activities are a great way to learn about astronauts, astronomy and other space science and engineering concepts. Learn about pressure as you launch a rocket into the sky, become an engineer and design a protective landing pod for an ‘egg-stronaut,’ and much more. It’s a great way for families with kids of all ages to stay active and enthused as they learn more about the world around them.
“Kids lose about three months of learning over the summer, which means those first few weeks when school starts again is devoted to relearning the same concepts,” stated Bryan W. Wunar, the Museum’s Director of Community Initiatives in the Center for the Advancement of Science Education (C.A.S.E.). “With Summer Brain Games, thousands of kids and their families join us to experiment, learn and have fun together. We are excited to bring back this program for a fourth year.”
M.S.I. will be bringing its Summer Brain Games activities into Chicago’s neighborhoods this summer. High school students who are M.S.I. summer interns will spend time at eighteen Chicago Public Library (C.P.L.) branches engaging children in space science experiments.
The eighteen Chicago Public Library branches are Albany Park, Independence, Logan Square, North Austin, Portage-Cragin, and Jefferson Park in the North District; Little Village, Toman, Brighton Park, Manning, West Chicago Avenue, and Legler in the Central District; and Hegewisch, Vodak-East Side, Jeffery Manor, Kelly, West Englewood, and Coleman in the South District. I asked Mr. Wunar, “Does this represent a new or continued relationship with the Chicago Public Library?”
He replied, “We’re in our third year of collaborating with the Chicago Public Library.” Wunar explained three years ago the C.P.L. “approached the Museum, to help theme the Library’s summer reading program.”
The discussion shifted to a learning program that would complement reading. “We determined that all learning counts.”
The M.S.I. team wanted to factor in children learning about science and engineering at home with their parents as well as in the libraries. “That’s when it started to come together where we [M.S.I. and C.P.L.] co-developed what summer learning could look like in Chicago.”
C.A.S.E., established in 2008, encompasses the science demonstrators on M.S.I.’s floor, as well as educational programs for science teachers, after-school science clubs, and Learning Labs and videoconference labs school groups use on visits to M.S.I. Wunar estimated there are roughly 100 C.A.S.E. staff members, including part-timers and seasonal workers on the floor. “Within Community Initiatives, we have a dozen people in our department.”
Wunar joined the M.S.I. staff in 2004 serving as the Director of Teaching and Learning, providing leadership for the Museum’s programming to support improved science education for students, teachers, schools, and communities in the Chicago area. He has served as Senior Director of the Science and Mathematics Curriculum Program at the Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC) in Boston, the Associate Vice President for Education and Programs at Chicago’s Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum, and as the Director of the Alliance for Community Education at Loyola University Chicago.
I asked him, “You’ve worked for a variety of local cultural institutions. Are you a native son of Chicago or did you move here to work for Loyola?”
He replied, “I grew up in Joliet, so I’ve been in the Chicagoland area my whole life. I used to come to the Museum as a kid, it’s part of what inspired me to work with science and science education. And now I get to work here.”
I asked, “What is your educational background?”
Wunar responded he had an undergraduate degree in biology. “I have a master’s in curriculum and instruction.”
He also has a second master’s degree in philanthropy and non-profit management. “I am also ABD (all but dissertation) in educational psychology, with a focus on science education and learning.”
For the Summer Brain Games Program, “We’re hiring forty-five high school students and six college students to be Farrell Fellows.” I asked if it was related to Farrell Court in M.S.I.’s Central Pavilion. Wunar answered, “Yes. Jim Farrell, who used to be the C.E.O. of I.T.W. (Illinois Tool Works), this program has been named in his honor.”
These are paid internships. Wunar said, “For many of these teens, this will be their first work experience.” They will work at the Museum with public guests and go out to run the Summer Brain Games program at the eighteen Chicago Public Library branches.
I asked if M.S.I. had hired all of the C.A.S.E. interns it needs. Wunar explained, “We’ve just completed our interview process. The college students who will serve as lead interns will start on June 23rd and the high school students start on July 7th.”
The interns are going to taking selections from the science experiments children can do at home with their parents and be working with young children in those communities at those branch libraries. Wunar said, “The teens become great ambassadors for science and the Museum beyond our walls.”
Wunar added, “I think this is a really good example of the Museum’s vision in action, and our vision is to inspire and motivate children to achieve their full potential in science, technology, medicine, and engineering, and it allows us to have a direct impact on these teens. They have an opportunity to have a much broader impact on an audience across the city.”
One previous Summer Brain Games participant said, “Our family had a wonderful time exploring and learning. The kids looked forward to having a different project to work on weekly.”
Another said, “Trying the activities together made it worthwhile when the kids got to see that it works! The best thing my oldest said was that she learned the value of teamwork.”
Still another said, “This was such an easy and wonderful way to experience science that showed the kids science can be fun and done just about anywhere.”
In the press release, M.S.I. stated, “Families can register NOW at msichicago.org/summerbrain. When the program kicks off on June 22, they’ll receive a voucher good for a FREE Museum Entry ticket to MSI. Then each week, families will receive an email with instructions and tips on each space activity and additional suggestions on how to play with science during the summer.”
M.S.I. stated, “The Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago is one of the largest science museums in the world, offers world-class and uniquely interactive experiences that inspire inventive genius and foster curiosity. From groundbreaking and award-winning exhibits that can’t be found anywhere else, to hands-on opportunities that make you the scientist—a visit to MSI is where fun and learning mix. Through its Center for the Advancement of Science Education (CASE), the Museum offers a variety of student, teacher and family programs that make a difference in communities and contribute to MSI’s larger vision: to inspire and motivate children to achieve their full potential in science, technology, medicine and engineering. Come visit and find your inspiration! The Museum is grateful for the support of its donors and guests, who make its work possible.”
The Museum of Science and Industry is housed in the Palace of Fine Arts, the last exhibit pavilion left standing in Jackson Park from the White City fairgrounds of Chicago’s first World’s Fair, the World’s Columbian Exposition (1893). It is located at the intersection of 57th Street and Lake Shore Drive in Hyde Park on the South Side of Chicago.
M.S.I. is open from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas day. Extended hours, until 5:30 p.m., are offered during peak periods.
The people of Chicago support M.S.I. in part through the Chicago Park District. For more information, visit msichicago.org or call (773) 684-1414 or, outside of the Chicago area, (800) GO-TO-MSI.