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Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the definition of a STEM Lab?

    A STEM Lab allows young people to experiment, using some of the same practices that scientists and engineers do. It is a dedicated space that offers them the opportunity to learn by doing and to collaborate with each other. The space itself should create a learning environment where young people can explore phenomena, understand problems, and create, test, and optimize solutions.

  • How is “space” defined?

    The space for a STEM Lab can take many forms, and a strong proposal matches the form with the proposed use and the needs of the participating youth. This may be an existing space (enclosed or more open), a flexible or traveling space or another environment in which young people learn and become engaged with science and engineering practices.

  • What is defined as out-of-school time for this grant?

    We recognize that out-of-school time (OST) has various definitions across teaching and learning contexts. For this grant program, we define OST as times when young people are not engaged in formal school-day learning that is led or co-led by the school. We consider youth to be out of school during the following times: non-school days (e.g. weekends), before and after school on school days, summer and holiday breaks, and during field trips to locations outside of school.  OST programs and sites may include afterschool programs, parks, libraries, community-based organizations, and others.

  • Why are these STEM Labs and not STEAM Labs?

    We recognize the importance of the arts, design and creativity in youth learning and development; in many ways, these areas have connections with and similarities to STEM. The grant program focuses on the shared core focus areas for Exelon and the Museum in this effort—science, technology, engineering and mathematics. This in no way limits a successful applicant from integrating the arts into the proposed STEM Lab, or even in using STEAM in the program name. The proposal should, however, have a clear focus on STEM.

For more information, email GreenLab@msichicago.org.