CPS Student Invited to the White House

Scarlett Garcia, age 12, to Attend Astronomy Night thanks to Citizen Schools STEM Apprenticeship  

Chicago, IL—October 15, 2015—How many 12-year-olds can say they’ve gazed at constellations with the President of the United States? Soon, Chicago 7th grader Scarlett Garcia, who lives in Logan Square, will be on that short list. The Chase Elementary School student, and Citizen Schools participant, has been invited to attend White House Astronomy Night Monday, October 19th as the guest of President Barack Obama. Scarlett received the invitation after participating in the Citizen Schools apprenticeship “Youth Capture the Colorful Cosmos” offered at Chicago’s Adler Planetarium through a grant from the Smithsonian Institute. The Astrophotography program allowed her to research objects in space, use a telescope network to take images of the object and then process the images using Micro Observatory software.

Started 20 years ago, Citizen Schools is a national education nonprofit which partners with public middle schools to expand the learning day by three hours, providing targeted academic support, homework help, and hands-on learning opportunities.  Citizen Schools operates in Illinois and six other states utilizing “Citizen Teachers,” like those at the Adler Planetarium, who give their time to provide skills-based learning to students.

Citizen Schools and its US2020 initiative are committed to making STEM- (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) related opportunities available to middle school students around the country.  The first White House Astronomy Night was held in 2009 after President Obama affirmed a national initiative making STEM education a priority for our nations’ students.

Scarlett says she loves STEM because, “we learn new things like the periodic table-there are so many signs that we do not know about until we learn about it.  I like the new ideas I experience in STEM classes-new topics.  I like investigating and coming up with potential answers to hypotheses.”

“Scarlett is a prime example of the difference a focus in STEM can make for our students,” said Erin Linville, Interim Executive Director of Citizen Schools Illinois.  “Last spring it was Astrophotography and this term she’s working with Citizen Teachers from Google in the ‘High Altitude Balloon Competition’ apprenticeship.  These opportunities may very well lead to a STEM career…a career she now knows is within her reach because of the experiences our apprenticeships have afforded her.”

Scarlett is available for in-studio or phone interviews before she departs for Washington, D.C. on Monday, October 19th.    Erin Linville, Interim Executive Director of Citizen Schools Illinois is also available as well as Brian Willard from Google, who is leading Scarlett’s current Citizen Schools apprenticeship.

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Matt Ellis

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