Twelve-year-old Kasper Sorfleet of Naperville is looking forward to an upcoming visit to Chicago-in the name of science. His destination? The first Chicago Science Expedition, which runs Sept. 22-Oct. 8. Coordinated by the Office of the Mayor and Chicago Public Schools, the event aims to increase interest in science through citywide activities and events.
"It's kind of a grass roots event that has taken on a life of its own," says Nijole Mackevicius, external resources coordinator of Chicago Public Schools' office of mathematics and science.
The expedition kicks off Sept. 22 with a press conference by Mayor Richard M. Daley in Daley Plaza. Kids can see the world's largest periodic table of elements by looking at the building facing Daley Plaza-each window will be filled with an element-or explore hands-on science activities.
Kasper's 9-year-old brother, Cooper, wants to see the periodic table. "I guess I just like science a lot," he says. "I like a lot of animals and atoms."
Highlights of the expedition include museum exhibits, activities at schools, a cafe lecture series at area Starbucks with local scientists and an essay contest for students in grades five through 12.
"If we can kindle an interest in science in grade school, then perhaps we can keep that flame alive through high school-and on through college and graduate school," says Daley, who plans to hold the expedition for the next five years. "That would be good for the students-and good for our city and our nation."
The Museum of Science and Industry will launch its part of the expedition with the exhibit "Target America: Opening Eyes to the Damage Drugs Cause' by featuring the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's surveillance technology and DEA lab chemists.
The Chicago Herpetological Society will provide information on reptiles and amphibians, and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency's Breathe Easy Man mascot will be on hand at the musuem.
Look for posters and brochures around the city in September. For detailed information and a list of events, visit www.chicagoexpedition.org.