From the world’s largest science museum to a U.S. Department of Energy learning lab, the Chicago area offers a variety of exciting STEM opportunities
Developing skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics — or STEM as it’s better known — is vital to young minds. The secret, however, is creating hands-on experiences that students will not only learn from but embrace. Here, we offer a 4-day Illinois itinerary focused on STEM education.
Duration: 4 Days
Ideal For: All
DAY 1: A science museum like no other, energetic team-building activity and more STEM things to do in Illinois
Start the day at the Museum of Science & Industry, one of the largest science museums in the world. The Chicago museum features interactive exhibits that connect science, technology, engineering and math to our daily lives. In addition to touring the museum, students have a 30-minute session that mirrors real-world experience in a STEM career. It’s an exciting opportunity to hear personal stories from a scientist or engineer and dive deeper into the possibility of pursuing a pathway to STEM.
Visit the Irons Oaks Environmental Learning Center in Olympia Fields for an all-hands-on-deck team-building opportunity. Choose activities such as the High Ropes Course, Climbing Tower, Power Pole and Crate Climbing in a thrilling, yet safe and productive environment.
Enjoy a pizza party and high-speed go-kart adventure at Accelerate Indoor Speedway in Mokena. Starting with a 30-minute instructor-led class, students will learn about the science behind speed, acceleration and friction, Newton’s laws of motion and apply mathematics by calculating degrees, angles and turns before taking on the thrills of indoor gokarting on F1-inspired karts that can reach 50 mph.
DAY 2: A national laboratory, an amazing arboretum and bowling
After breakfast at the hotel, head to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont. Argonne traces its birth from Enrico Fermi’s secret charge — the Manhattan Project — to create the world’s first self-sustaining nuclear reaction. Today’s lab is hosted in Argonne’s Learning Center, a unique space comprising student labs, classrooms and a computer lab that sits inside the control room of one of the first high-energy particle accelerators in the world. Each learning lab is shaped not just by the areas of research Argonne pursues, but also by the way researchers go about their work in those areas.
Explore environmental science at the 1,700-acre Morton Arboretum in Lisle. With over 220,000 live plants, the options are endless. A variety of instructor-led courses include Plant Structural Adaptations, where students use scientific instruments to examine how abiotic factors influence the life cycles and characteristics of plants, while Woodland Ecosystem Study explores the layers of the forest and interdependence of the plants and animals that live there.
Tonight, choose from high-energy activities such as Brunswick Bowl, Dave & Buster’s or American Ninja Warrior Park.
DAY 3: Broadway-style musicals, medieval event and more things to do in Illinois
Start the day at the new Paramount School of the Arts in Aurora. Learn what it takes to make a new musical come to fruition in a two-hour master class. Learn from artists from the Paramount Theatre’s current show what it takes to create a new piece of theater. Students will also learn a song from the show and get a chance to receive feedback from master teachers.
Catch a matinee at the legendary Paramount Theatre, which features Broadway-style musicals and plays in a beautifully restored, historic, 1,885-seat playhouse.
Visit Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament in Schaumburg. With tailor-made educational presentations for all age groups and a 90-minute show and dinner, the whole group will be entertained and educated.
DAY 4: Fun thrill rides and shopping in Illinois
Travel to Six Flags Great America in Gurnee for a day of thrill-ride fun and exploration. This amusement park doubles as an interactive classroom. The park offers real-life examples of physics, math, science, engineering, technology and business management. Amplify key themes and concepts from your classroom in a safe, stimulating environment. Those looking to shop when not at the park can visit Gurnee Mills, the largest outlet and value shopping destination in Illinois.
Gurnee Mills features more than 200 stores including Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Forever 21 and Bass Pro Shops. You can also spend a day and stay overnight at Great Wolf Lodge in Gurnee, which is home to a completely renovated indoor water park that includes a family raft ride, a tandem tube ride and an outdoor activity pool with fountains.
Explore our selection of Group-friendly Itineraries across the globe.