Teens have a new place to learn beginning Saturday and it's more cool than school. Shedd Aquarium is opening its new Teen Learning Lab free to all high school students to help them explore science in a whole new way.
Although Shedd has provided programs for teens for 40 years, this is the first time the aquarium has offered a space just for teenagers, says Melissa Williams, vice president of learning at Shedd. It grows out of the demand for information Shedd has seen from this age group, particularly with annual science fair projects or career and college planning.
The lab will allow the students to meet Shedd experts and work closely with biologists and the learning staff, while connecting digitally with other students and resources across the state and nation.
"We really wanted to find a way to help the kids help themselves but enable us to be there with them and give them what they were looking for," Williams says.
Located in the aquarium's Aquatic Education Center, the renovated classroom will allow teens to conduct scientific research, create multimedia products and participate in social media activities. It contains 10 laptop computers, 20 iPads and five desktop computers along with floor-to-ceiling whiteboards, LCD projectors and mp3 players. Local students active in Shedd's teen programs helped create the new space.
Most of the programming will be created by teens, but Shedd is providing structured activities during this pilot phase.
"I think it would enable them really to have a much richer learning experience and not have to look so hard for those resources. They can be tough to look up. Hopefully this space can really connect them with a whole world of resources that's even beyond Shedd," Williams says.