Learning Resources

Chicago Youth Participate in Thousands of Summer Learning Activities

Through the Chicago City of Learning initiative, students can participate in any one of the 5,000 on-site and online activities, such as hands-on STEM learning and coding bootcamps, to earn digital badges recognized by schools.

Students in Chicago looking for opportunities this summer to explore new skills and interests now have access to more than 5,000 on-site and online activities, thanks to Chicago City of Learning (CCOL). For the third year running, the citywide initiative comprised of 140 organizations is hosting a broad range of programs, including new mobile maker labs. Students that complete activities can earn digital badges recognized by schools.

The activities are organized into the following topics:

  • Coding and games;
  • Community action;
  • Designing and making;
  • Earth and science;
  • Media;
  • Numbers;
  • Performance;
  • Sports and wellness;
  • Storytelling;
  • Work and career; and
  • Zoology.

For most activities, students can earn digital badges to demonstrate their knowledge of specific topics. The “STEM Explorer badge,” for instance, has students complete a self-paced, STEM-focused curriculum that consists of several video series, educational games and exercises. The “STEAM STUDIO: Design Boot Camp” badge entails completing a weeklong bootcamp where students learn about the design process, market research, pitching and presenting ideas, and design and maker tools and software. In addition, there are 25 “city badges” that require students to earn a combination of badges across topics. For example, learners can obtain the “City Explorer” badge by collecting six badges from six different categories, such as coding and games or sports and wellness or zoology.

One program that has expanded this summer is CCOL’s mobile maker labs. Operated by DePaul University’s Digital Youth Network (DYN) and sponsored by Best Buy and the Chicago Housing Authority, the program includes two vans fully equipped with 30 computer monitors, trained mentors and wireless connectivity. The vans will visit parks throughout the city — particularly in areas where access to computers and coding, design and making programs are limited — offering kids the opportunity to explore coding, game design, video production and other concepts.

“During the summer, each of us has a role in keeping our children safe and engaged, which is why this summer the city is increasing our investments to provide new learning and working opportunities that will help youth build skills, explore the city, and discover their full potential,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in a prepared statement. Emanuel launched the CCOL initiative in the summer of 2013.

Parents and students interested in participating in activities can create an account, browse online activities and explore badges. Further information about the initiative is available on the Chicago City of Learning site.

About the Author

Sri Ravipati is Web producer for THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at [email protected].