Field Trip and Excursion Program

“Belonging to a community requires a commitment to the common good.”

The goal of the ISSF 2018 Field Trip and Excursion Program is to introduce attendees to IMSA’s partners and collaborators across the Chicagoland area. From leading universities, science museums, and art institutes to private sector STEM partners, IMSA has a rich network of people and organizations who support and foster the academy as the leading learning laboratory it is today. During ISSF attendees will have the opportunity to participate in field trips and visit partner locations.

ISSF 2018 Field Trips

Innovative Learning Experiences


Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by the University of Chicago for the US Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

Argonne – 70 Years of Discovery

The Spirit of Innovation


Ball Horticultural Company is a worldwide leader in all facets of horticulture. The organization has plant breeders, research and development teams, seed and vegetative producers and distribution companies on six continents in 18 countries. Headquartered in West Chicago, IL, the home office includes seed technology research, advanced plant biotechnology research, a plant tissue culture lab, a seed distribution center and over 10 acres of gardens where Ball shows off the best of its genetics to the trade.  

Attendees will have an opportunity to see and learn about the variety of research work performed by its scientists and tour the gardens, seed distribution center and seed treatment laboratory.

Celebrating the Gardens at Ball

Ball Seed Distribution


Fermilab is America’s particle physics and accelerator laboratory. What are we made of? How did the universe begin? What secrets do the smallest, most elemental particles of matter hold, and how can they help us understand the intricacies of space and time? Since 1967, Fermilab has worked to answer these and other fundamental questions and enhance our understanding of everything we see around us. As the United States’ premier particle physics laboratory, Fermilab does science that matters. They work on the world’s most advanced particle accelerators and dig down to the smallest building blocks of matter. Fermilab also probes the farthest reaches of the universe, seeking out the nature of dark matter and dark energy.

Fermilab Science at Work

Fermilab Open House


Students touring the Oak Valley Water Reclamation Facility will be introduced to the microbiological treatment processes required in cleaning our community’s wastewater before its release to the environment for reuse by wildlife, and ultimately, human consumption. While touring the Facility, students will have an opportunity to view the wastewater treatment stages, including an added stage designed specifically for phosphorus reduction. Phosphorus reduction in wastewater is key to limiting algae growth, which diminishes oxygen levels to fish and other aquatic species that require it for life. Before its final destination (Spring Creek), Oak Valley’s treated wastewater will flow past the Facility’s ultraviolet lighting system as part of a sterilization process which ensures the non-existence of harmful pathogens in the discharging water.

All attendees can expect to gain an understanding of the importance of properly treating our wastewater and in the basics of microbiological treatment processes within Oak Valley Water Reclamation Facility.   

American Water We Keep Life Flowing

American Water Capabilities



Illinois Institute of Technology, also known as Illinois Tech, is a private, technology-focused, research university, located in Chicago, offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering, science, architecture, business, design, human sciences, applied technology, and law. At the Wanger Institute for Sustainable Energy Research (WISER), more than 80 faculty members are currently involved in energy and sustainability research and educational activities across the colleges and institutes at IIT.

Participants in this field trip will be able to experience the work the Institute is doing to promote clean water, clean air, and zero hunger.

The Transformation of Renewable Energy

Illinois Institute of Technology


Invenergy captures, generates and stores power at scale to solve today’s energy challenges. They are powered by decades of entrepreneurial experience and unparalleled execution. They provide power generation and storage solutions at scale around the world to create a cleaner energy future. The world is just beginning to accept what Invenergy has known for years — clean power and renewable energy sources are the future. Invenergy’s successful track record of developing, building and operating facilities proves that clean energy can be safe, reliable and affordable. They work for the future and are not constrained by the next earnings call. With more than 100 projects in development or operation across the U.S., Canada, Europe, Japan, and Latin America, they are leveraging innovative design and next-generation technology to create a new paradigm for energy production.

Attendees will have the opportunity to visit Invenergy’s Grand Ridge project, located just south of Marseilles, IL.  The project started with 99 Megawatts of Wind Generation in 2008. The project expanded in 2009 with an additional 111 Megawatts of Wind Generation.  Grand Ridge solar (Invenergy’s first Solar Project) went online in 2012. Lastly, in 20013 the project was expanded with hosting Invenergy’s first Battery Storage project.

Invenergy Impact



The Plant is a 94,000 sq/ft former meatpacking plant, that now houses 25 food businesses all focused on reusing waste – and creating a circular economy. In a circular economy, waste becomes an opportunity; outputs from one industry can be used as an input for another. Plant Chicago (the educational non-profit inside the building) seeks to change the way cities develop the critical infrastructure — waste, water, energy, and food access — that will support an increasingly urbanized population. A linear economy follows a “take-make-dispose” system, designed to extract resources from the earth for limited or single use. Instead of accepting the linear, “resource in, waste out” economy, a circular economy re-imagines the economy as a circular system of resource flows. 

During the tour, you’ll get a detailed explanation of the circular economy in relation to The Plant. Additionally, you’ll see Plant Chicago’s aquaponic system (raising fish + growing plants in water), a bakery, beer brewery, coffee roaster, honey bees on the roof, outdoor gardens, renewable energy system, and learn about the Chicago stockyards through exploring the building.

The Plant in 2 Minutes

Plant Chicago Aquaponics

ISSF 2018 Excursions

Fun Social Experiences

Chicago’s Adler Planetarium is America’s first planetarium and a premier resource for inspiring the next generation of space explorers. The Adler Planetarium is a public museum dedicated to the study of astronomy and astrophysics. It was founded in 1930 by Chicago business leader Max Adler. The Adler is home to three full-size theaters, extensive space science exhibitions, and a significant collection of antique scientific instruments and print materials. In addition, the Adler boasts the Doane Observatory, one of the only research-active, public urban observatories. This lakeside observatory is the only place in Chicago where the public can see planets, stars, and galaxies up-close and in person.

Field trips at the Adler are fun learning experiences. You will enjoy hands-on, minds-on activities and explore mind-blowing facts about the Universe that will stay with you long after you have left the museum. With two domed theatres, a selection of staff-facilities activities, and 60,000 square feet of exhibitions, the Adler casts visitors in the role of scientist, engineer, astronaut and creative problem solver. 

Welcome to Adler

Exploring Space at Adler


The Art Institute of Chicago, founded in 1879 and located in Chicago’s Grant Park, is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the United States. Recognized for its curatorial efforts and popularity among visitors, the museum hosts approximately 1.5 million guests annually. Its collection, stewarded by 11 curatorial departments, is encyclopedic and includes iconic works such as Georges Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, Pablo Picasso’s The Old Guitarist, Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks, and Grant Wood’s American Gothic. Its permanent collection of nearly 300,000 works of art is augmented by more than 30 special exhibitions mounted yearly that illuminate aspects of the collection and present cutting-edge curatorial and scientific research. As a research institution, the Art Institute also has a conservation and conservation science department, five conservation laboratories, and one of the largest art history and architecture libraries in the country—the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries.

During this museum tour and art-making experience, attendees will practice scientific and creative thinking. Through observation, imagination, and reasoning in the galleries of the Art Institute of Chicago, students will explore three works of art in depth. They will then respond to what they have experienced through a studio-based activity. This tour supports State Common Core English Language Arts Standards, National Core Arts Standards, and Next Generation Science Standards.

A New Lens

Working at the Arts Institute

The Field Museum has been inspiring curiosity about life on earth for more than a century. The Field Museum was founded in 1893 as the Columbian Museum of Chicago and has spent more than 120 years in the pursuit of scientific knowledge about the world around us. The Field Museum’s scientific and education efforts are organized around four centers with distinct and complementary priorities: The Gantz Family Collections Center, The Integrative Research Center, The Keller Science Action Center and The Learning Center. All four centers contribute to education in the sciences at all levels and increase the Museum’s ability to understand the past, explore the present, and shape a future rich with biological and cultural diversity.

From the Field to the Field Museum

Facts Matter at the Field Museum

One of the largest science museums in the world, MSI has both an illustrious history and a focus on the future of science and science education. From field trips to teacher resources, MSI provides learning experiences both inside and outside the classroom—because improving science education is critical.

During this field trip, attendees will visit the Future Energy Chicago exhibit. This will provide the participants a chance to reinvent Chicago’s energy footprint. The afternoon will begin with a short film that presents the dramatic challenges we face in building a better energy future. The participants will be able to enter an interactive Simulation Lab challenging teams to reimagine and reinvent Chicago’s energy landscape. The journey then goes to the Energy Garden where the participants will be able to transform energy from one form into another.

MSI in a Minute

Science Initiative at MSI

Every year Shedd Aquarium welcomes 2 million guests for unforgettable encounters with 32,000 animals from the world’s aquatic environments. But Shedd is more than a destination. The Shedd scientists are saving endangered species and their habitats. Shedd animal care experts rescue and rehabilitate wildlife in need, across the country, and around the world. Shedd conservationists are restoring the health of the Great Lakes. Building operators are setting the standard for conserving water and energy and educators spark compassion, curiosity and conservation for the aquatic animal world.

During your visit to the Shedd Aquarium, you will immerse yourself. Shedd’s exhibits connect you to incredible animals from around the world — and close to home. Dive deep into coral reefs and flooded rainforests, and stroll along the craggy Pacific Northwest coast. Whether it’s the fresh, cool Great Lakes or warm waves of the Caribbean, Shedd’s many exhibits reveal the secrets of our planet’s waters. During your visit, make sure you attend their live animal presentation! See and hear how animals like beluga whales, sea lions, and dolphins at Shedd are cared for every day by their trainers. Then see how the Shedd way of training highlights incredible natural behaviors. It will be filled with different opportunities to meet animals up close and learn about their unique adaptations.

A Day at the Shedd Aquarium

Mission and Vision

“The ability to discern and create connections is the essence of understanding.”
The Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

For more information on the Field Trip and Excursion Program or to become an official ISSF 2018 program partner, email event project manager, Mary Collins.