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Exelon Promotes STEM Education through Partnership with Opt4STEM

The purpose of the program is to provide Von Steuben students with both a strong foundation for earning a science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) degree from a four-year research university and exposure to career paths in STEM fields.



Opt4STEM Energy Academy students visit Chris Crane for lunch and conversation in the Board Room at Chase Tower. Energy Academy students visit Chris Crane for lunch and conversation in the Board Room at Chase Tower.

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 offers 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 one of Exelon's nuclear plants
  • Toured a ComEd 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 or a building at IIT
  • 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 more than 100 activities including STEM enrichment programs, college credit courses at IIT, monthly college and career readiness workshops and mentoring opportunities. The majority of the Von Steuben student body has participated in at least one Opt4STEM activity
  • Planned and hosted an annual Engineering Week and bridge-building competitions with activities led by Exelon employees and IIT undergraduate students
  • Paired Von Steuben students with IIT undergraduate student mentors in a Leadership Academy. Together the pairs attended 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.



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