It’s that time of year again…time for parents to work on those Science Fair and History Fair projects! Just kidding. Middle school and high school students are supposed to do these projects themselves. But the burden usually falls on the parents to drive them around to stores and libraries.
My parents were troopers, taking turns driving me to libraries around the city as I hunted for articles on microfiche to perfect my research on many CPS history and science fair projects. Pre-internet research was rough.
I’ve put together a handy list of places to go in the city for research and materials along with some online sources for history research.
Good luck parents 😉
American Science & Surplus
This is the ultimate place to find materials for almost any kind of project. Thermometers, magnets, petri dishes, beakers…you name it and they probably have it. It’s also a great place to find novelty gifts. On a recent visit I saw rubber chickens, Star Trek lunchboxes and ant farms among the well-stocked shelves.
5316 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60630
A makerspace with access to laser cutting and 3D printing. Daily access or monthly access fees apply.
1130 W. Thorndale
Chicago, IL 60660
Robot City Workshop
If you are building or repairing a robot, this is your place. Batteries, LED lights, motors, fasteners and all the other robot-making good stuff.
3226 N Sheffield
Chicago, IL 60657
Working on a project that’s food or baking science-related? Check this place out for scales, thermometers, measuring cups and more.
810 W Lake Street
Chicago IL 60607
CED Chicago Electrical Supply
Straight up electrical supply company.
1721 W. Grand Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622
Henry’s Sports & Bait
Need live worms, crickets or other creepy crawlies? Henry’s is open seven days a week.
3130 S. Canal St
Chicago, IL 60616
Chicago Tool Library
Did you know that Chicago has a community nonprofit dedicated to providing equitable access to tools? Membership required (sliding scale) and only open on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 3 pm.
1048 W 37th St
Chicago, IL 60609
Research Center at the Chicago History Museum
The mecca for Chicago history research. I remember going there in high school and being in awe of the beautiful (and quiet!) library research room. Appointments can be made for students in grades 6-12 only. The Research Center hours are Tuesday-Friday, 1:00-4:30 PM; Saturday, 10:00 AM-4:30 PM. www.chicagohistory.org/research-center-appointment-history-fair-students/
1601 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60614
To use the library, you must register as a reader. The Newberry welcomes readers who are at least 14 years old or in the ninth grade. All requests for Newberry materials are made through our online request system, Aeon.
60 W. Walton St
Chicago IL 60610
WTTW Chicago Stories
WTTW Geoffrey Baer Tours
Encyclopedia of Chicago
Chicago Landmarks Historic Resources Survey
Chicago Architecture Center Online Exhibits