Monthly Archives

November 2019


Science Fair and History Fair Resources

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 😉

Science Fair

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

Edgewater Workbench
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

Northwestern Cutlery
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

History Fair

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.
1601 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60614

Newberry Library
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

Online Resources
WTTW Chicago Stories
WTTW Geoffrey Baer Tours
Encyclopedia of Chicago
Chicago Landmarks Historic Resources Survey
Chicago Architecture Center Online Exhibits

Presenting my project at the 1988 Chicago Public Schools City Science Fair
at the Museum of Science and Industry.

Teen, Volunteering

Fall 2019 Volunteer Opportunities

Is your teen looking for ways to give back this holiday season?  Check out these options for tried-and-true volunteer faves and a few that you might not have seen before! 

1. Be a Part of the Light 2019
Join My Block, My Hood, My City in decorating 8 miles of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive with holiday lights and decorations. They need lots of volunteers that want to spread holiday cheer! Sign up here.

2. Working Bikes
Working Bikes gives donated bicycles new life by providing transportation to people in homeless transition, refugee resettlement, and youth empowerment programs in our own community. They also donate thousands of bikes each year to global partners. There are plenty of volunteer opportunities in their warehouse. No mechanical experience necessary!

3.Free Geek Chicago
FreeGeek Chicago is a not-for-profit community organization that recycles used computers and parts to provide functional computers, education, internet access and job skills training to those who want them. Volunteers participate in “Open Build” times which provide an excellent opportunity to get tons of hands-on experience with a wide variety of computer hardware and to learn first-hand the challenges and satisfaction of building a working system.

4. Cradles to Crayons
Cradles to Crayons helps to provide babies and children living in low-income and homeless situations the essential items they need to thrive through donations and community support. Volunteer at their Giving Factory and help sort, quality check, and pack donated items for distribution. 

5. Shedd Aquarium
This one is a bit more of a commitment but it sounds really cool. Be an exhibit interpreter and connect with guests, share animal stories, and inspire conservation! Tweens as young as 12 can participate (with an adult).