A Virtual Eat Your Neighborhood Tour with Dave Odd

The students in the Food For Thought class are investigating the guiding question, How are food systems shaped and how do they shape the world?. As a part of this investigation, the students studied the Agricultural Revolution which led the class to the question, What would it be like to return to humanity’s roots as foragers?. The Eat The Neighborhood tour with Dave Odd is the signature Field Experience of the course; teacher, Brent Mix has partnered with Dave the last two years for this much-anticipated experience.

Dave of Odd Produce is Chicago’s only professional forager. He led the students on a virtual version of this tour through the North Park neighborhood. The experience showed the students that there are food and medicine all around us, we just have to know what to look for.

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Muraling Moody’s

Students in the Drawing Lines course took a deep dive into public art during our three-week Civic term. Students in this course were challenged to define the seemingly simple term, public art. In search of an answer, students took a tour of the murals in Pilsen with Luis Tubens of Pilsen Public Art Tours, they talked with Nathan Mason, Curator of Exhibits and Public Art at the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, they visited Steve Weaver and Maryrose Pavkovic from Chicago Public Art Group, they toured public artworks in the Loop and Wicker Park, and they discussed the concept of placemaking with Katanya Raby from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. Students were out on the field almost every day learning from experts, collecting data, and exploring artworks in search of a definitive definition.

The class closed out the term by working with We All Live Here artist, Rich Alapack to wheatpaste a mural on the wall of Moody’s Pub in Edgewater. This unique experience gave the students the opportunity to assume the role of public artists; working against the elements and talking about the project with passers-by. At the end of this day, students were confident in their own definition of the term, public art and certain that there is no one definitive answer.

Field Experience

Spaces as Public Art at Design Museum of Chicago

Students in Drawing Lines have been investigating the concept of placemaking specifically through art. So far in their investigation, they’ve looked at how public artworks may create places where people want to gather and how the process of creation may bring people together. They got a different perspective on placemaking during their visit to the Design Museum of Chicago where Tanner Woodford, founder and executive director explained that his donation-suggested museum is in itself a piece of public art. The museum not only fulfills the city’s need for a design museum but it serves as a place that educates and unites diverse groups of people.


The purpose of this Field Experience is to see how a place with the mission of gathering people through art may also be considered a piece of public art.


Students will meet Tanner Woodford, the founder and executive director of the Design Museum of Chicago to understand the impact of places and spaces as public art.

Field Experience

Musing over Murals with Pilsen Public Art Tours

The students in the Drawing Lines course have been examining the power of public art in educating and uniting a community. As a part of their investigation, they studied the Mexican Muralist movement and the work the artists did to reunite a divided country. We are fortunate enough to live and learn in a city that has an incredibly rich public art scene. We visited the Pilsen community on the Southwest side of the city and got a tour of the beautiful murals that reflect the history and stories of the community. Luis Tubens of Pilsen Public Art Tours led us on a very informative and engaging tour that clearly demonstrated the impact of public art.


Students have been studying the social impact of the Mexican Muralism movement of the 1920s. The purpose of this Field Experience is to give this investigation local context by viewing the culture of murals in Pilsen, a Latin community known for its thriving art scene. Luis, the Director of Pilsen Public Art Tours and our tour guide will make connections between contemporary mural art and techniques and styles made famous in the 1920s.


Students will take the tour, taking note of how murals find a home and how they impact and/or transform the spaces they reside in.

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We’re In This Together

GCE students can’t help but impress during Final Presentations. Students are challenged to share and demonstrate their learning from the term at each Final Presentation. With just a couple of guidelines, they are free to create dynamic experiences that showcase how they connect their learning to their own passions. This term’s presentations varied in format and allowed the guests to experience learning like a GCE student.

We are grateful for our passionate students and all of the people who came out to support the work they do.

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Bike Prototyping

After weeks of learning from different experts in the field, the Juniors were ready to build the prototype of their original bike designs. Each group of students was given a client profile for whom they had to design a bike. To prepare for this assignment, they met with the Director of Volunteers at Working Bikes, the owner of EarthRiders Cycle Shop, the Program Director at the Chicago Department of Transportation, and designers and engineers from the James Dyson Foundation. Equipped with a wealth of knowledge and some hands-on experience, the students sought out to build their prototypes using all scecondhand materials from the WasteShed, an awesome resource for teachers and makers!

Cooking to Impress

Our students knocked out another month of delicious meals for community lunch. Hiu’s advisory experimented with Asian flavors and delivered dishes with spice, acidity, and umami. They served up bahn mi sandwiches, Thai-inspired ramen, Korean-inspired tacos, and Thai red curry rice bowls. Each lunch was elevated with an accompanying dessert or drink: matcha cookies, iced milk tea, horchata, and black sesame chocolate chip cookies. The meals were equally fresh and hearty with lots of colors to look at and flavors to discover. This group of students was confident to be ambitious under the guidance of Chef Mike McCants. They picked up some knife skills and tips on how to build and layer flavors.

Fresh with a pH

The Freshmen in the Water class are studying the water cycle. In the process, students learned that infiltration is an important part of the cycle because as the water passes through layers of soil and sand, it is filtered and purified so it can be consumed. Using that information, students built water filters to address the guiding question, How would you cope in a water crisis?. As a part of this investigation, they studied pH levels and how to determine if the water is potable. After they designed and built their filters, the students attempted to turn non-potable water into potable water.

WorldChicago Youth Ambassadors

WorldChicago Youth Ambassadors from France, Martinique, and Guadeloupe spent the day with us to experience learning like GCE students. WorldChicago facilitates collaboration between people from all over the world to advance national security, economic development, and social justice. WorldChicago is a local coordinator for the U.S. Department of State Youth Leadership Programs for international high school students and adult mentors. These short, yet dynamic programs inspire cross-cultural dialogue, build respect and mutual understanding, and boost civic engagement among young Americans and their international peers.

The international students joined us in classes, ate lunch with us, and participated in our Soapbox discussion. The students from France, Martinique, and Guadeloupe shared anecdotes about their school-life in comparison to what they’ve experienced in Chicago. Upon leaving at the end of the day, WorldChicago Youth ambassadors and GCE students exchanged social media handles, so we look forward to keeping up with our visitors.

Hit Me With Your Best Shot

Students in the Journalism class have been investigating the power of a photograph. Specifically, they have been pursuing the question, “How does photojournalism help you see the world?”. As a part of their investigation, they examined how shutter speed, aperture, and exposure work together to tell a story in a photograph. They practiced manipulating these tools and analyzing each other’s photos in preparation for their Action Project.

It’s Homecoming, It’s Halloween…

It’s the Homecoming Halloween Dance! The first event put on by our newly established Arts, Culture, and Events leadership group was an absolute success. The team of students along with Adam, Keiko, and our students’ amazingly supportive parents put on an event to remember. The team created a super-spooky haunted house, cleared out a room for the dancefloor, and put on the most delicious spread of pizza, candy, and more candy.

Lucky for us Halloween is still more than a week away so our school will stay decked out with the scary decorations.

A Month of Lunches

The students in Sharon’s advisory bravely stepped up to the challenge of cooking the first month of lunches in our new and improved community lunch program. Under the guidance of Chef Michael McCants and using the MyPlate guidelines, Sharon and her students planned, prepared, and served delicious and nutritious lunches to the whole school! We look forward to learning so much more from Chef Mike and eating more awesome food.

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The Ins and Outs of Collaging

In the first unit of the Population course entitled In/Out, students pursued the guiding question, Where do we fit in?. In this unit, students investigated what and who is included and excluded from a population. As a part of their investigation, they observed organisms both from the inside and the outside, through dissections and a visit to a local zoo, and created their own classification system. The culminating project for the unit was a collage that displays the entire taxonomy of an organism.

The students explored the art of collaging to bring their organism to life. Inspired by the art of Megan Coyle, the students used pages from old magazines to mimic the shading and texture of their animal.

Field Experience

Carrying Water @ The Chicago River

Freshmen in the Water class visited the Chicago River to collect water. In the first unit of this STEAM course, students have been pursuing the guiding question, why is water so common yet so rare? . In their pursuit of an answer, students have been learning about the abundance of water found in living organisms while also investigating the scarcity of potable water that leaves millions of people without clean water on a daily basis.


The purpose of this Field Experience is to investigate the guiding question, How can you get access to water in case of a shortage or crisis?. The students carried water to connect their water usage to worldwide water shortage.


The students walked to a local public water source, the Chicago River to collect and transport water. At the end of the Field Experience, students measured the amount of water they collected and reflected on their daily water usage.

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Youth Climate Strike

A group of GCE students participated in the Global Climate Strike on September 20th. Between September 20- September 27, 7.6 million people took to the streets to strike for climate action. It was the biggest climate mobilization in history! The Global Climate Strike shows that we have the people power we need to create a just world and end the era of fossil fuels. GCE students proudly took part in the Youth Climate Strike in Chicago where thousands of people of all ages flooded the street. It was a powerful demonstration of power in numbers.

Field Experience

Studying the Chicago River on a Water Taxi

In the first Unit of the Water class, the Freshmen have been pursuing the guiding question, Why is water so common yet so rare?. As a part of their investigation, they studied how people from around the world access water; specifically looking at the accessibility of potable water from natural water sources. The students visited the natural water source closest to school, the Chicago River via a Chicago Water Taxi. The Chicago Water Taxi provides transportation options for the city’s commuters by utilizing the resources of the Chicago River. For the students, the ride on the Water Taxi allowed them to experience the city differently as they assessed the cleanliness and potability of the water.


Students will experience their city in a different way by way of water via a Chicago Water Taxi.


Students will examine and assess the cleanliness and potability of the water in the Chicago River.

Field Experience

Investigating the Economics of Rideshare at the Chicago Lyft Hub

The Seniors in the Economics course have been investigating the guiding question, How do we make choices in a world of limited resources and limited time?. In the course, students learn how to think like an economist while questioning their own ways of thinking in order to understand them better.

In the first unit entitled Growth, students examine the concept of supply and demand, and how companies meet consumer needs while remaining competitive. As a part of their investigation, they visited the Chicago Lyft Hub where specialists work hard to ensure that their drivers and riders are satisfied. Lyft is one of the pioneers of rideshare and the students got insight into what it takes to be a leader in a growing industry.


Explore the concepts of supply and demand by using a real-time market through ridesharing.


Students will talk to the ops team and driver liaison to discuss and then plan out a possible strategy to encourage driver use (supply) and rider use (demand).

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These Hands are Made for Tilling…

The Juniors in the Design and Engineering class are addressing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 9 by examining the guiding question, How does the design process impact product and experience?. SDG 9 addresses the need for resilient infrastructure, and inclusive and sustainable industrialization and innovation. The designers and engineers are investigating the importance of empathy in design, specifically that of gardening tools in the first unit of the course. As a part of this investigation, the students are learning about the physics behind simple machines and spending time in the garden working with and without tools in order to redesign a gardening tool.

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We Dune’d it Up!

We kicked off the 2019- 2020 school year with an epic orientation trip to the Indiana Dunes State Park. We were thrilled to spend the weekend with a group of new and returning students getting to know each other, swimming in balmy Lake Michigan, making s’mores around the fire, and sleeping in tents. There’s nothing like an adventure in the great outdoors to create a sense of appreciation and community.

We are so grateful to all of the students and staff that helped us pilot this program, and we look forward to doing this again.

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Step 1: Speak Up!

GCE Lab School students in partnership with the Newberry Library organized and hosted this year’s Youth Soapbox Debates as a part of Newberry’s Annual Bughouse Square Debates. This is our second year participating as organizers of the Youth Soapbox Debates to provide a platform for young people to speak honestly and provocatively about the political, social, and cultural issues that plague their world. We are proud to help provide this platform for young people in a historically significant place amongst activists of all ages and backgrounds.

Rising GCE Junior, Gimena and GCE Class of 2018 alumna, Shay worked hard all summer recruiting speakers and planning the event. The youth speakers proved that there is power in their voice. Their stories also reminded us that speaking up and speaking out is only the first step to creating a better tomorrow. We are hopeful that under the leadership of these young people, we are on our way to a brighter and safer future.

We’re looking forward to next year!