DIY curriculum for kids and parents | Chicago teachers strike

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A kid gets creative at the "Unboxed" exhibit at Chicago Children's Museum.

A kid gets creative at the "Unboxed" exhibit at Chicago Children's Museum.


The strike is in full swing and a deal has yet to be brokered. Thankfully, Chicago happens to be one of the most culture-friendly cities in the world, and low-cost, educational resources run a plenty (check out our list of free museum days here). While the mayor and the Teachers Union try to hash out a contract, we’ve collected a list of education-driven exhibits so you and your youngsters can make up your own curriculum, while school is temporarily out of session.


Math

  • Chicago Children’s Museum 700 East Grand Ave (312-527-1000, www.chicagochildrensmuseum.org) I remember being in wood shop class when the teacher asked the students about the value of cardboard. Laugh all you want, but I witnessed with my own eyes its surprising power. By manipulating four pieces of cardboard, my teacher (who later staved off hefty medical bills, thanks to union benefits, I might add) sustained the weight of a ten-pound dumbbell. Likewise, the CCM just opened its "UNBOXED: Adventures in Cardboard" exhibit for the tykes to wander a giant cardboard maze and engineer some crazy gizmos with the sturdy material. The museum also has special calendar events throughout the coming weeks, like “Cardboard Junction,” which lets kids saunter through a mini-Chicago cityscape. By the way, admission is free for kids September 11–14.

Science

  • Museum of Science and Industry 1 South Lake Shore Dr (773-684-1414, www.msichicago.org) It’s a good time to check out the full-scale, 7-foot-tall model of the NASA Mars Curiosity Rover. Its counterpart recently landed on the Red Planet to do some extra-terrestrial investigating. The engineering marvel was developed by the best minds around, so we’d suggest taking any budding engineers and scientists to see it now, before it leaves at the end of September. You might also want to catch Tornado Alley, a 45-minute video presented in the Omnimax Theater that follows Storm Chasers star Sean Casey, as he chases (what else?) tornadoes. One more highlight here: If you haven't had a chance to check out "Science Storms," now is a great excuse, where you'll learn about the science behind weather: why lightening strikes and tornadoes spin, for example.
  • Shedd Aquarium 1200 South Lake Shore Dr (312-939-2438, www.sheddaquarium.org) The newest member of the Shedd family is a baby Beluga whale, who has yet to be named. Baby calf and mother Mauyak have been bonding away from open display, but who knows? The day you show up may be the day they let the little one off and swimming. Plus, did you know that Jellyfish are made of 95 percent water and that they’ve been around for more than 500 million years? In case the baby isn't floating around, you can venture over to the "Jellies" exhibit to learn more biological fun facts.

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