Launched in January 2015, Opt4STEM is a five-year partnership between Exelon, the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), the City of Chicago and Von Steuben Metropolitan Science High School.
In July, Opt4STEM offered a two-week Energy Academy to 20 students, allowing them to engage in interactive workshops and field trips to Exelon sites to learn about the energy business. In addition to having a lunchtime discussion with Exelon President and CEO Chris Crane, the students:
- Practiced emergency simulations at Exelon’s Byron nuclear plant
- Toured the ComEd Rockford training facility
- Visited Exelon’s southeast Chicago Natural Gas Plant and City Solar
- Discussed career paths with Exelon and ComEd employees at various sites
- Toured energy-efficient homes with Habitat for Humanity Chicago (where Exelon and ComEd have provided funding for several homes in West Pullman)
- Performed an energy audit of their school
- Enjoyed a graduation ceremony and family visit to the Exelon-sponsored Future Energy Lab at the Museum of Science and Industry
Since 2015 with Exelon’s support, the Opt4STEM program has:
- Established a Student Advisory Team as well as a Teacher Advisory Team to ensure students and teachers have an active role in the development of the partnership
- Led 55 activities including STEM enrichment programs, college credit courses at IIT, monthly college and career readiness workshops and mentoring opportunities. Fifty-six percent of the Von Steuben student body has participated in at least one Opt4STEM activity
- Planned and hosted an engineering week and a bridge-building competition with activities led by Exelon employees and IIT undergraduate students
- Paired 15 Von Steuben students with IIT undergraduate student mentors in a Leadership Academy. Together the pairs attended five leadership seminars and participated in debriefing sessions to plan how to put their leadership into action
- Provided the Von Steuben science department with professional development training on the Next Generation Science Standards led by faculty from IIT’s Math and Science Education Department.