gce steam class Photo Gallery

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!

Field Experience

Rapid Prototyping with The James Dyson Foundation

Students in Design & Engineering received a visit from a team of designers and engineers from the James Dyson Foundation. We have a longstanding partnership with the Dyson Foundation, and we are so grateful we get to learn from their experts every year. This year, students were tasked with answering the prompt, “How does design solve problems?”. Under the guidance of the Dyson experts, the students worked in small groups to identify problems they face daily and started to design a product that could address that issue. Admittedly, the process was a bit messy, but according to the designers, that’s precisely the way it should be.

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.

Field Experience

Envisioning the Future of Bicycles at Earth Rider

Juniors in Design & Engineering visited Earth Rider, a full-service, woman-owned bike shop to learn from store-owner and bike expert, Sharon. Sharon is a League Cycling Instructor and a certified Bicycle Technician from the United Bicycle Institute. She shared a wealth of knowledge about different types of bikes and how they have evolved to meet different needs. She also talked about parts of a bike, bike safety, and accessories that make biking more accessible and practical for all types of commuters. During this visit, the students collected important information that’ll help them design their own bikes and tried out some smooth-riding e-bikes!!! The students were overwhelmed by Sharon’s hospitality; spending time at Earth Rider was more like being at her home than at a bike shop.


The purpose of this Field Experience is to learn more about bicycles (how they are put together and how they are evolving) so that the students can then design our own bikes.


They talked to the owner of the Earth Rider about the parts that make up a bike, their purpose, and the choices designers make when using certain parts over others.

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.

Field Experience

Working with Bikes at Working Bikes

Juniors in Design & Engineering met with Anna, the volunteer coordinator at Working Bikes in Pilsen to learn about the anatomy and the mechanics of bikes. In the second unit of this STEAM course, students have been pursuing the guiding question, “How are bikes designed and engineered to solve specific problems?”. In their pursuit of an answer, students have been studying the concepts of weight, speed, acceleration, velocity, and mass and their effects on simple machines such as the wheel, the axle, and the pulley. To gain a better understanding, the students visited Working Bikes , an organization committed to giving new life to discarded bicycles and distributing them as tools of empowerment to local and global communities.

On the day the students visited, a shipping crate was waiting to be filled and shipped to the Jordan. Anna showed the group how to get the bikes ready for transport, and they got right to work.


The purpose of this Field Experience is to investigate the guiding question, “How do bicycles impact lives?”. The students talked to experts to investigate the evolution of bikes and how they are put together so that they can then design a bike that suits a person’s specific needs.


The students talked to bike shop employees about the parts that make up a bike, their purpose, and the choices designers make when choosing to use certain parts over others.

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.

Field Experience

Better Design at the Greater Good Studio

Juniors in Design & Engineering have been pursuing the guiding question, How does design process impact product and experience?. Specifically, students have been investigating the design of gardening tools and bicycles, and the importance of practicing empathy and designing with inclusivity in mind. As a part of their investigation, they visited Greater Good Studio, a design firm committed to making the world a better place through human-centered design. The students met with designer and co-founder, Sara to learn more about her design philosophy and, to get a behind-the-scenes look at the design process in a professional setting.


The purpose of this Field Experience to see what it’s like being a professional designer, and learn from their process.


The students toured the space, talked to designers, and asked questions about the design process.

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.

Photo Gallery

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.

Photo Gallery

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).

Field Experience

Creation Stories with Lily Be

In the first unit of the Stories course, Creation, students explored stories from a variety of cultures that try to provide answers to the questions: Why does the world exist?, How did it come into being?,  and Why are we here?.  As a part of their investigation, students looked for unique creation stories from their own lives. Chicago writer, storyteller, teacher, podcaster, and performer, Lily Be helped the budding storytellers identify those stories and gave them tips on how to effectively develop and tell them. Lily turned the experience into a game, granting the audience members points for asking questions that further developed the stories. The students learned more about each other and about the art of storytelling.


Students will learn to recognize their life experiences as stories worthy for sharing and will learn how to share their experiences in an effective and engaging way.


Students will reimagine the idea of the creation story and work with a storyteller to identify, develop, and refine their own stories.

Photo Gallery

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.

Field Experience

Meeting Human Needs at Lincoln Park Community Service

Unit I of SDGs & You is entitled Access, and it asks students to investigate the first, second, and fourth Sustainable Development Goals: No Poverty, No Hunger, and Quality Education (respectively). The students’ trip to Lincoln Park Community Service to prepare, serve, and eat a meal with the residents there gave them some first-hand experience with people in their community who know the challenges related to these goals quite intimately. This experience contributed primary research data to their first Action Project, which asks students to argue that a human need should be regarded as a human right.


This week we will travel up Halsted to the Lincoln Park Community Shelter to prepare a meal for and eat with the residents of LPCS. In addition to providing service, we will be thinking about our studies of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the situations in which we might consider human needs to be more properly human rights.


Students are responsible for planning both bagged and hot lunches for 35 people while staying within budget. Students are tasked with taking Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs into account as they determine what foods will go into each meal. Finally, students will prepare and serve lunch as they eat and talk with the residents of LPCS.

In preparation, we are mapping some areas around the world most impacted by the challenges referred to in SDGs 1, 2, and 4. We have likewise used data from the City of Chicago’s data portal to turn the mirror back on the United States, asking ourselves where in our own communities we share similar struggles. Our meal service at LPCS will show us how, even in an area of Chicago well-known for its relative wealth and privilege, challenges regarding poverty and hunger still exist.

Photo Gallery

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.