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Science Olympiad Urban Schools Initiative

Chicago Public Schools and Science Olympiad are proud to enter the seventh year of the Urban Schools Initiative (USI) program for 2013-2014, with approximately 30 middle and high schools represented. "After participating in Science Olympiad and winning two medals at the Regional Tournament, I decided I wanted to major in science," said a member of the Steinmetz High School Science Olympiad team. She went on to major in biology at Northeastern Illinois University!

For the first three years of the pilot Urban Schools Initiative program (2008-2010), Science Olympiad provided external funding from sources like the Abbott Fund, Science Chicago and The College Board to support free materials, training, professional development, memberships and peer coaching under a "protected regional" concept. In 2011, Science Olympiad moved from the Chicago Public Schools Office of Teaching + Learning to the Office of Pathways to College and Career, which offers coaches training, tournament and workshop registration and teacher stipends. Aligning Science Olympiad to the infrastructure of after-school programs within CPS allows students to explore STEM courses and careers while they participate in science standards-based challenges.

In 2009, 2010 and 2011, Science Olympiad provided access to training and materials, and facilitated the Build It Learn It Day. Nearly 230 students and teachers interacted with science experts from the Cook County Health Department, the US Forest Service, Texas Instruments, the Academy of Model Aeronautics, Project Exploration and the University of Illinois Chemistry REACT Program in 45-minute sessions designed to help teams prepare for the Wright College Regional Science Olympiad Tournament. In 2012, the first-ever Science Olympiad CPS Invitational Tournament was held at Lane Tech High School, organized and run by CPS teachers and Illinois Science Olympiad volunteers. The Invitational was a hit and Lane Tech hosted its second tournament in January 2013.

Each spring, CPS middle school and high school teams are treated to expenses-paid VIP trips to the State Science Olympiad Tournament at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where they tour state-of-the-art facilities, meet professors and college students and participate in hands-on science activities.  The program is organized and fulfilled via the joint efforts of CPS, Science Olympiad, University of Illinois' ISTEM Education Initiative, the City Colleges of Chicago, and Illinois Science Olympiad.

See Urban Schools Initiative for more info about how you can reach out to local businesses to find Urban Schools grant funds in your area.