Labfest Grande Finale

Science Chicago’s LabFest! Triggers Reaction in Millennium Park

Blowout celebration offers hands-on science excitement in the heart of downtown Chicago

CHICAGO [July 28, 2009] – Science Chicago’s traveling LabFest! science festival is set to go out with a bang in downtown Chicago’s Millennium Park on Friday, August 21. After more than a dozen stops at CPS schools, local parks and libraries throughout Chicagoland, this finale event promises even more science discovery for Chicagoans and visitors of all ages in one dynamic and fun-filled summer day.

LabFest! in Millennium Park will give kids and families the opportunity to explore the sciences from – astronomy to zoology – in an interactive, memorable and FREE way. The day offers numerous hands-on activities, craft projects and games such as “Pop Fly” with Nate Ball, host of the popular PBS television series, Design Squad, where participants will have the unique opportunity to brainstorm, design, build and test products that are used in everyday life. The new season of Design Squad will air locally on WTTW11 Sundays at 11:30 a.m. beginning October 11, 2009.

“It’s all about making science and engineering accessible,” said Design Squad host, Nate Ball. “The Science Chicago initiative, just like the Design Squad TV show, features the importance of science and the design process in every aspect of our day-to-day lives – from riding a bike to recycling our garbage to making a call on a cell phone. LabFest! is an awesome opportunity to demonstrate the ideas that we share with our viewers every week. I’m even bringing one of the prototypes that our teenage cast invented on-screen!”

Some of the other exciting LabFest! activities at Millennium Park include:

• Build a 15-Foot Willis Tower out of LEGOS© – Work with architect Adam Reed Tucker to create a spectacular version of this Chicago landmark.
• Building Windmills – Engineer a functioning windmill with young Malawian innovator William Kamkwamba and author of the upcoming book, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.
• Beakman’s World – See a show by Paul Zaloom, award-winning performance artist and host of the Sony Pictures science television show, Beakman’s World.
• Bubbleology 101 – Don’t just blow bubbles, discover the science of bubbles and how the molecular nature of water causes a phenomenon called surface tension.
• Alka-Seltzer Rockets – Create a rocket out of a film canister and an alka-seltzer tablet.
• Space Robots – Learn about space exploration as you build and program your own LEGO space robot with experts from the NASA Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Aerospace Academy.
• Solar Cars – Kids can design, build and race model solar cars while learning about renewable energy resources; then they can participate in one-on-one drag races.
• Oobleck – Take off your shoes and learn about non-Newtonian liquids when you dash across a pool of cornstarch and water mixture which will allow you to “walk on water.”
• I want to be a Vet! – Meet and talk to a veterinarian from the American Veterinary Medical Association and learn about animal health with the help of a real dog.

The year-long Science Chicago initiative, considered to be the world’s largest science celebration, wraps up in August. Since the launch of the program in September 2008, more than 300,000 people have engaged with Science Chicago programs and online communities.

“Science Chicago has been tremendously successful in building public enthusiasm for the sciences and positioning Chicago as leading city for cutting-edge science innovation,” said Cheryl Hughes, Executive Director of Science Chicago. “If you haven’t had a chance to experience a Science Chicago event, come to LabFest! at Millennium Park. It is a perfect culmination of this exciting year, as it celebrates the unique spirit of collaboration, hands-on learning and passion for science discovery that are the foundation of the Science Chicago initiative.”

Science Chicago will continue to serve as a resource for science enthusiasts through social networks including Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube. The public may also visit the Web site for additional information on local science events and programs.

“It’s truly impressive that within the short span of one year, Science Chicago has inspired hundreds of thousands of Chicago residents of all ages to awaken their inner scientist and explore the many scientific resources of the region,” said David Mosena, President and CEO of the Museum of Science and Industry and Vice Chair of the Science Chicago Board of Advisors. “The Museum of Science and Industry is proud to have led this unparalleled collaborative effort, and it is our hope that cities and organizations across the nation will look to Science Chicago as a model for the development of similar initiatives aimed at inspiring the next generation of American scientists.”

Event Details:
Date: Friday, August 21, 2009
Time: 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Location: Millennium Park
55 North Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611

For more information on LabFest! visit:

Argonne open house!

Argonne Public Open House 2009

Directions to Argonne
Download Program of Events (PDF)

Argonne is opening its gates to the community Saturday, Aug. 29, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. — rain or shine. Nearly 100 engaging exhibits, demonstrations, tours and presentations are being planned for a day of fun and education for the entire family.

A program of attractions and events, including a map of the Argonne campus, will be available free at the Argonne gates and is downloadable here.

Photos and videotaping are welcome.

Come and enjoy our beautiful campus and learn more about exciting new research in:

  • Energy
  • Environment
  • Safety
  • Chemistry
  • Computing
  • Engineering
  • Biology
  • National security
  • Physics
  • Materials science and nanomaterials
  • X-ray science
  • Transportation
  • Nuclear energy


Tours include the Advanced Photon Source, the Western Hemisphere’s most brilliant source of X-rays for research; the Center for Nanoscale Materials; ATLAS, the Argonne Tandem-Linac Accelerator System; and the Argonne Wakefield Accelerator.

Featured presentations:

  • To be announced.


Argonne is located just south of I-55 near Darien. Visitors to Argonne’s open house may enter through any of three gates:

  • Northgate Rd.  located off Cass Ave. immediately south of I-55. Take the Cass Ave. exit south from I-55.
  • Westgate Rd.  located off Lemont Rd. immediately south of I-55. Take the Lemont Rd. exit south from I-55.
  • Eastgate  located off Cass Ave. near Bluff Rd., about a mile and a half south of Northgate Rd. Take the Cass Ave. exit south from I-55.

Shuttle service

Free on-site shuttle service is available all day.

Free all-day shuttle service to the open house is available for visitors who park in the Argonne Park, located on Cass Avenue, directly across from the Argonne campus and about a half-mile north of Bluff Road.

Food service

Food and beverages are available for purchase at Buildings 213 and 401. Snacks and refreshments may be purchased near Buildings 200 and 362.

Information booths

Information booths will be open all day near Buildings 203 and 362 to answer your questions about activities and services Information is also available from Argonne hosts wearing white baseball hats imprinted with “Argonne National Laboratory.”

Fall happenings — Chicago Ridge Homeschool opportunities

Many co-ops and support groups have exciting opportunities dotting their fall calendar. Check out individual websites (see tabs above for contact information for many groups across the Chicago area) for more details information about meetings and events open to homeschoolers in your neck of the woods.

The following came from a group in Chicago Ridge:

Here is a brief summary: (all are at 1 p.m.)

Sept. 11–participate in a Readers’ Theatre presentation of The Buffalo Storm

Oct. 9–Bicycle safety program

Nov. 13—Fine Arts Fest

Dec. 11—Stampin’ Up Christmas edition

All Homeschoolers are welcome to join us!  Please call to reserve your spot! 708.423.7753

The more, the merrier!

Constance VanSwol

Head of Youth Services

Chicago Ridge Public Library

10400 S. Oxford Avenue

Chicago Ridge IL 60415

Six Flags homeschool day

If you have not received a flyer in the mail, be on the lookout!

Six Flags

Many people have been searching for more details about the upcoming homeschool day at Six Flags Great America.

I received my flyer today, and they have now posted the registration form on the website. If you did not get a flyer mailed to you, you can print this registration form for yourself.

Here are the details:

  • 2009 Home School Day Thursday, September 10
  • Park hours — 10 AM to 5 PM
  • Hurricane Harbour is not open on that day
  • Picnic Grove buffet from 11:30-1:00 for $10.25
  • $10 processing fee to mail order tickets
  • Get a free ticket for every 20 you purchase — get a group together and you can go free!


  • $27.50 per person if purchased before August 24, 2009
  • $33 per person if ordered 8/25 through 9/4
  • Online ticket promo code: HOMESCHOOL
  • $37.75 for ticket and all-you-can-eat buffet if ordered by 8/24/2009

Early bird specials give you less than three weeks from now to get your orders in, so get your group together and get your order in soon.  Don’t miss out on a great opportunity to enjoy Great America with other area homeschoolers.

Christopher Columbus’ boats spotted!

The Niña

This taken from an article in a local paper:

Replicas of two of Christopher Columbus’ ships are scheduled to spend nearly a week at Waukegan Harbor beginning July 29.

The “Pinta” and the “Nina” will be docked next to the Waukegan Yacht Club until their departure early Aug. 3. They will be open for viewing for a charge.

Both ships will be touring together as a new and enhanced “sailing museum” for the purpose of educating the public and school children on the ships used by Columbus and many early explorers to discover the world.

While in port, the public is invited to visit the ships for walk-aboard self-guided tours. The prices are $7 for adults, $6 for seniors and $5 for children. Children 4 and under are free. The ships will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. No reservations necessary.

Teachers or groups wishing to schedule a 30-minute guided tour with a crew member should call the ship directly at (787) 672-2152. Minimum of 15 and the cost is $3 per person. Visit the Web site at for additional information.

Sounds like a great educational activity! To prepare for your trip here are some links on Christopher Columbus:

Happy Exploring!

Great America Read to Succeed

If you and your kids earned tickets to Six Flags through their Read to Succeed Program, now is the time to redeem them!

Six Flags

They expire August 9th, just a few weeks away, and the closer we get to that date, the more crowded the park becomes. I just took my girls yesterday and we had a perfect day for it! The crowds did swell a bit in the afternoon, but most of the day we enjoyed short to non-existent lines.

The employees said it was a typical Monday.

Tips for enjoying your day:

  • Don’t forget the sunscreen so you don’t regret your trip the following day(s)
  • Stay hydrated. We actually were there from the time they opened until they closed and my girls still weren’t done! Keeping plenty of water on hand helps them enjoy the day.
  • Bring healthy snacks (but, of course, they need to stay in the car). Rather than filling up on fried food, pop, and sweets, we enjoyed dinner in the parking lot. Whole wheat sandwiches, carrots, fruit, and lots of water. Nothing holding us back from having a lot of fun the whole day at Great America
  • Go soon, and preferably earlier in the week. It will never be completely empty, but you have a better chance of fighting fewer crowds this way. We whipped through countless lines before 11:30.
  • Take the express lane up 294! If you are taking 94/294 up to Six Flags Great America in Gurnee get in the middle/express lane if at all possible. We crawled through the construction induced congestion that whole stretch while watching cars whiz past us. There is an exit from the express lanes at Grand (where you need to get off for Great America), so you don’t need to worry about missing it. If you stay in the local lanes you could easily count on an hour drive from 90 to the park.

If you do have the free tickets, try not to let them go to waste. We enjoyed a full day of fun for around $20 (including parking). Not bad at all, and the kids deserved it for the great job they did reading this past year.

More flags! More fun! 🙂

. . . More Works for Me Wednesday!

Shakespeare in the Park in Geneva, Illinois

Looking for a little Shakespeare in your summer? Geneva has just what you are looking for.

This from a recent press release:

The Midsummer Theatre Troupe will present a free production of “Taming of the Shrew” at 6 p.m. at the park. Before the play begins, the junior and senior performing company of State Street Dance Studio in Geneva will dance.
Seating will be Ravinia-style; audience members are encouraged to bring blankets, chairs and picnics. Food will be available for purchase from Mill Race Inn and Graham’s.
“Taming of the Shrew” is about love and marriage, and those wanting to attain that perfect union. Two sisters, one fair and one shrewish, are being courted by various suitors. How and why these men approach the task is brought out in this story.
“This is the third year the arts commission is presenting a Shakespeare play as a gift to the community,” said event chair Vic Portincaso. “Last year we had attendance of 600: this year we expect 1200 people to attend.”

Admission is free; a $5 donation is suggested. Free parking is available at the government center on First Street. It’s just a short walk across the covered bridge across the Fox River to Island Park.

Free or cheap movies

Many Theaters offer free or very inexpensive movies through the summer months. While I have listed the locations and available movies for Illinois, many of these are available in other states, simply click through to their sites to find a location convenient for you.

As part of the Kerasotes Theatres the following Illinois theaters offer movies through the summer:

  • Bolingbrook – ShowPlace 12
  • Chicago – City North 14
  • Chicago – ShowPlace 14 Galewood
  • Cicero – ShowPlace 14
  • Edwardsville – ShowPlace 12
  • Glenview – Glen 10
  • Lake-in-the-Hills – Lake-in-the-Hills 12
  • Machesney Park – ShowPlace 14
  • New Lenox – ShowPlace 14
  • Niles – ShowPlace 12
  • Rockford – ShowPlace 16
  • Skokie – Village Crossing 18
  • Springfi eld – ShowPlace East 8

They should all be showing these films:

  • June 24 and June 25 – Igor
  • July 1 and July 2 – Madagascar Escape 2 Africa
  • July 8 and July 9 – Kung Fu Panda
  • July 15 and July 16 – Mall Cop
  • July 22 and July 23 – The Tale of Despereaux
  • July 29 and July 30 – Hotel for Dogs
  • August 5 and August 6 – Coraline

Cinnemark Movie Theaters offer films $1 at the door or $5 for all 10 showings (they don’t list specific movies or times, so check with individual theaters):

Participating Classic Cinemas also offer movies on Wednesdays from June 17th through August 12th. All Movies begin at 10AM and cost $1. The movie showing varies by location.

  • Charlestowne 18 – St. Charles, Illinois
  • Cinema 12 – Carpentersville, Illinois
  • Elk Grove Theatre – Elk Grove Village, Illinois
  • Fox Lake Theatre – Fox Lake, Illinois
  • Lake Theatre – Oak Park, Illinois
  • Lindo Theatre – Freeport, Illinois
  • Meadowview Theatre – Kankakee, Illinois
  • Paramount Theatre – Kankakee, Illinois
  • North Rivierside Mall Theatre – North Riverside, Illinois
  • Ogden 6 – Naperville, Illinois
  • Tivoli Theatre – Downers Grove, Illinois
  • Woodstock Theatre – Woodstock, Illinois
  • York Theatre – Elmhurst, Illinois

Featured Movies:
The Tale of Despereaux
Hotel For Dogs
Kung Fu Panda
Space Chimps
Kit Kittredge: An American Girl
Madagascar 2: Escape From Africa
Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Goodrich Quality Theaters offer movies Monday through Friday at 10:30 for $1 per seat. These include:

  • Kendall 10
  • Randall 15
  • Savoy 16
  • Willow Knolls 14

Movies they will feature:

Mall Cop
Flushed Away
Daddy Day Care
Over the Hedge
Shrek the Third
Surf’s Up
Bee Movie
Spiderwick Chronicles

Chicago Outdoor Film Festival

July 17 – August 28 on Tuesday Nights in Grant Park. Butler Field in Grant Park features a free outdoor film festival. The big outdoor movie screen features free classic movies at sunset. The lineup of classic movies offers an impressive variety of movies that have been enjoyed over the ages. Enjoy balmy summer nights in Grant Park, relaxing with friends and watching classic films.
Read more: “Summer Events Chicago Illinois: Soccer, Movies. Venetian Night, Air & Water Show, Jazz Festival |” –

These can make great Frugal ideas, and help beat the heat and break up the monotony.

Free Admission to the Art Institute of Chicago

The new Modern Wing of the Art Institute has opened its doors today, May 16th. For this coming week admission to the museum is completely free of charge to all visitors.  See the Art Institute’s website for more information.

The even better news for homeschoolers . . . Children under 14 are ALWAYS admitted free. And, Illinois teachers (which you qualify for as a homeschool teacher) are also welcome without charge at the museum on any day they are open. Be sure to bring some type of homeschool identification, and call for details ahead of your visit — (312) 443-3600.

Here’s what their site says about teachers, “Teacher Admission – All Illinois teachers receive free general admission to the Art Institute with proof of teacher certification. When educators visit the Teacher Resource Center, they will receive a free educator’s pass. This pass gives the bearer unlimited general admission to the Art Institute and admission to the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries until September 1, 2009.”

The Institute is also free on Thursday nights from 5-8 as well, whether a homeschooler, teacher, student, or not. Don’t miss out on this great resource to your homeschooling studies.

Check out their links:

– to other art sources online

– resources especially for teachers

lesson plans

– Scheduling student tours