Science in Society and The Driskill Foundation’s Science Club: Teaching Children about Science

June Barnard, Bart McCartin, Mimi LeClair, and Dr. Michael T. Kennedy during the ribbon cutting for the new Science Club laboratory.

On April 11, a new Science Club Laboratory was unveiled at a ribbon cutting hosted by the True Value Boys and Girls Clubs of Chicago Science Club and with the attendance of The Driskill Foundation and Science in Society, a research center at Northwestern University. The Science Club laboratory, built thanks in large part to a $50,000 gift from The Driskill Foundation in 2016, provides a space where Science Club members can meet and work on experiments in a laboratory environment. Previously, Science Club met in the True Value Boys and Girls Club common space used as an auditorium, gym, and cafeteria.

“I am so pleased that the Boys and Girls Clubs of Chicago, Science in Society, and The Driskill Foundation could come together to inspire these children to follow their passions,” said Bart McCartin III, chair of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Chicago Board of Directors. He recalled The Driskill Foundation’s mission to ignite curiosity, sharing that Science Club is the “epitome of igniting curiosity.”

The Science Club is an after school program founded by Science in Society in partnership with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Chicago where children in grades five through eight come together with graduate student mentors to work on science projects and experiments. The club gives the kids an opportunity to explore their interest in science and build their problem-solving skills. The concept for the program was born from a partnership between Science in Society at Northwestern and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Chicago. Since 2008, the programs have worked together—children actively engage in hands-on science, and Northwestern scientists share their expertise and creativity in a community-centered way.

James Marks, a Science Club mentor from the University of Illinois-Chicago, helps a Science Club member use a microscope. Photo credit: Science in Society

“You young people inspire us every day. You are our future and our future leaders,” said Michael T. Kennedy, PhD, research professor of Neurobiology and Physiology at Northwestern University and founding director of the Science in Society program, addressing the young members of Science Club at the ribbon cutting and reception.

“My thanks to the mentors and others involved with Science Club—it took everybody to make this special day possible,” he continued.

The first Science Club was formed at the Pedersen-McCormick Boys and Girls Club in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. Thanks to generous support from the American Honda Foundation, a second Science Club was established at the True Value Boys and Girls Club in 2015. The Science Club at the True Value location in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood serves 40 children and engages with about 20 mentors each year.

“Thank you for being you,” said June Barnard, CEO of The Driskill Foundation, addressing the young members of Science Club. “I look forward to coming back soon to see all of the wonderful things you’ve discovered!”

Following the official ribbon cutting ceremony, a commemorative plaque was unveiled. Created by the Boys and Girls Clubs of Chicago, it recognizes The Driskill Foundation, the American Honda Foundation, Science in Society, and Northwestern University for their generous support of and dedication to Science Club. 

“You young people inspire us every day. You are our future and our future leaders.”

- Michael T. Kennedy, PhD