Eden Place

Eden Place

SCIENCES in the City

Located in Chicago’s Fuller Park neighborhood, Eden Place is a nature oasis on a site that was formerly an illegal dump. Through our long-standing partnership, CZS provides Eden Place with educational programming and training, and Eden Place provides us access to community members who may not usually visit the Zoo. In 2013, we expanded our partnership and launched Supporting a Community’s Informal Education Needs: Confidence and Empowerment in STEM (SCIENCES). The initiative, funded through a grant from the National Science Foundation, seeks to provide a full suite of environmentally focused science learning opportunities for teachers, children, families, and adults. Comprised of community and church leaders, academic researchers, and local Chicago Public School principals, an advisory board has been assembled to guide the development of programs that will have the most relevancy to the community in topics such as water conservation and pollinators. Programming will include early childhood nature play classes, family programs, middle school programs, project-based learning programs for teens, adult workshops, school and youth group classes, and teacher professional development. The overarching goals for SCIENCES are to improve environmental science literacy and gain insights into how this project could potentially serve as a model for other such partnerships in neighborhoods around the country.

Partners include CZS, Eden Place Nature Center, and the University of Illinois-Chicago, which will conduct research on the success of community/cultural institution partnerships such as this one.


The Nature of Community

SCIENCES: Supporting a Community’s Informal Education Needs—Confidence and Empowerment in STEM

In The Nature of Community: SCIENCES, we share the lessons learned from an innovative partnership designed to leverage the strengths of two nonprofit organizations—a large cultural institution and a smaller, deeply-rooted community-based organization, both of which offer informal science education expertise.

You’ll read first-hand reflections of how staff members, community leaders and members, children, and adults experienced this partnership: the expectations, surprises, challenges, successes, and lessons learned. We hope the description of this partnership inspires other organizations to reach outside of their comfort zones, to try something new, to falter, to listen and learn, to collaborate, to build on complementary strengths, and ultimately to reinforce connections to nature and science wherever you live.

Suggested citation:

Breen Bartecki, S., Kelly, L.-A.D., & Marks, T. (2019). The nature of community. SCIENCES: Supporting a Community’s Informal Education Needs—Confidence and Empowerment in STEM. Brookfield, IL: Chicago Zoological Society.


Zoo Adventure Program

ZAP! is a FREE after-school and weekend program for families with children ages 3 through 12.

Science Scholars

King Conservation Science Scholars

It’s a new way for teens to learn more about the natural world while building college readiness and career skills.