Science Explorers work on the front lines of science education.

Our mission is to make a tangible difference in the lives of underserved Chicago Public School high school students. By building authentic mentoring relationships focused around science education, we hope to put students on a path to academic success and teach them the skills they need to succeed in science class and beyond.

Freshmen science classes are tough. New 9th grade students in Chicago often struggle to adapt to the rigors and intensity of high school science classes. As a result, academic performance starts to decline…quickly.

Recent studies have shown that failing even one freshmen course significantly reduces a student's likelihood of graduating high school on-time (Allensworth and Easton, 2007). Freshmen biology is one of the most failed classes at Mather High School.

Science Explorers was designed to help promising Chicago Public School students succeed in their freshmen biology classes and acquire the skills needed to flourish in high school. Started in 2015, the Science Explorers program is a collaboration between Mather High School (Chicago Public Schools) and Science in Society (Northwestern University). The program is funded by a grant from the AT&T Foundation.

Fellows Program Details

Full-Time Employment

Science Education Fellows will be employed full time by Northwestern University and will work at Mather High School five days a week. These 10-month positions provide recent college graduate students an opportunity to explore urban education and science teaching. Fellows will be paid approximately $21,000 and are eligible for Northwestern University health benefits.

Bringing Authentic Science Research to High School Students

Science in Society has partnered with the Allada lab at Northwestern University to bring authentic science research to Mather High School. The project, which involves studying fruit fly behavior, serves as a unique opportunity for high school students to design and execute their own science investigations, whose results will contribute to research being done at Northwestern. Fellows will learn how to conduct fruit fly research and will be in charge of teaching these skills to students as well as supporting their investigations during after school hours. 

Mentoring and Tutoring Students

Science Education Fellows tutor small groups of students twice a week throughout the academic school year. Tutoring sessions meet during the school day and cover a range of topics, including biology, academic skills, and goal setting. Fellows create lesson plans to correspond to what the students are learning in class and are empowered to adapt their sessions for the needs and interests of the students in each group.

Training and Support for Fellows

Science in Society and Mather High School staff provide training for the Science Education Fellows. All Fellows will participate in a one-week orientation in the summer and then weekly professional development meetings during the school year. In addition, Fellows will be formally observed on a weekly basis in order to help the Fellow evaluate and improve their practice. Onsite support is also provided.


Youth Program

Science Explorers provides 50 Mather High School freshmen the opportunity to dive into science and join a small group of supportive peers. Youth work in small groups of three students with one scientist mentor twice a week throughout the school year. Groups review biology concepts and experiment with biology labs. Students also receive general support and mentoring as they develop strong academic skills.

To be eligible, students must have received a 2.5-3.5 GPA during 8th grade and be enrolled in AVID at Mather High School. Enrollment takes place in the fall.

Further questions about the Science Explorers Youth Program can be directed to Science in Society at Northwestern University,