CIW YOU(th) Kick-Off Empowers Students to Dream Big

By Sarah Martinson

On Tuesday, September 30, Chicago Ideas Week (CIW) kicked off the CIW YOU(th) program at Adler Planetarium. Chris Gardner, author of the Pursuit of Happyness and the event’s keynote speaker, said, “This program is about big ideas and big dreams.” And that it was.
CIW YOU(th) Kick-off program provides over 450 Chicago high-school students the opportunity to network with working professionals, meet their peers from across the city and think beyond the stars.
“Our mission is to empower students to become Chicago’s future leaders,” CIW Director of YOU(th) Programming Rachel Graham said. “Since our launch, CIW YOU(th) ambassadors have taken the CIW stage, gone on to college and inspired others to pursue their 

CIW DIrector of YOU(th) Programming Rachel Graham talks
with a CIW YOU(th) ambassador.
The program consisted of a breakout session, guest speakers and a series of 10 different interactive labs curated by Adler Planetarium. Students raced robots, tasted marshmallows frozen by liquid nitrogen and discovered what happens to Barbasol in a vacuum, among other exploratory labs. Speakers included Gardner, Chris Gardner, Jr., CIW Co-op Member and Adler Planetarium President Michelle Larson, Graham and Start-Up Institute Chicago Director Jenn Yee.
CIW YOU(th) Kick-Off is one of five events students attend as apart of the CIW YOU(th) program. Students have the chance to attend the Kick-off, one Talk, CIW YOU(th) Labs and Future Global Leaders, the Tech Summit or Edison Talks.

CIW YOU(th) learn about astronomy with
Adler Planetarium staff and volunteers.

 “CIW’s YOU(th) program is what I need in my life to become a leader,” Faviola Lopez, a sophomore and member of Horizons for Youth, said.  Lopez plans to attend college to become a civil engineer, with dreams of expanding Chicago’s skyline. When asked if she would take inspiration from Adler Planetarium’s programming and would want to build on Mars if humans colonized it, she said she would honored to be the first person to do it.

Erin Robertson is managing editor at Chicago Ideas.

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