Lincoln Park

You are part of this mission with us.

Dear Families and Friends of GCE Lab School,

This morning, Technology Director Marcus Duncan shared with me the above photo of the Apple Store at North and Clybourn—just a block north of our school building. It is a striking image. Designed as a building without walls, representing access and innovation, the monolith is now sealed like a vault, protecting luxury and privilege. Following the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, this monument reminds us of deep-seated, systemically-perpetuated inequality, of our nation’s despicable history of violence against black people. Protests across the city and the country in recent days demonstrate shared pain and outrage.

Exploring the Journey of Coffee with Metropolis Coffee

For the past two years, students in the Food For Thought class have visited the Metropolis Coffee Company’s roastery to learn about the life of the Coffee plant. They’ve toured the state-of-the-art roastery and gotten a behind-the-scenes look at each step of the process. Metropolis is dedicated to serving a stellar cup of coffee, but what’s even more important to them is respect. Respect is at the core of the company’s philosophy, from farmers to consumers.

The students were not able to take a physical tour of the facility this year, but Carrie Shemanski, Director of Marketing and Customer Experience, brought the visit to them. Carrie jumped on a Zoom call to talk about the ins-and-outs of sourcing, roasting, brewing, and serving coffee. She led the students in a virtual coffee cupping experience and gave them tips on identifying and describing flavors. The ultimate question is, of course, “How many cups of coffee do I have to drink before they stop tasting like coffee?”.

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.

Examining Policy with Connie Jordan

Juniors are taking a course called Policy. The first Unit, called “Legislate,” investigates the ways that policy happens through legislative bodies. For the most part, our curriculum focuses on the Federal level of the US government; in past years, our students have spent considerable time with the City of Chicago’s legislative body, the Council. This year, we were thrilled to be joined by Connie Jordan, Public Defender in Cook County (who had also visited us in February with Latoya Hughes, a State’s Attorney).

Germane to our studies in Policy, Ms. Jordan shared with us two bills her office is currently advocating at the State level with regard to criminal justice reform: one in the IL House that would do more to assure the rights of accused persons to access phone calls, and one in the IL Senate that would redefine the category of “habitual offender” to exclude accused persons under the age of 21.
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.

Why

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.

How

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.

Why

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.

How

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.

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.

Why?

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.

How?

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.

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.

Why?

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

How?

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

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.

Why?

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

How?

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.

Why

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

How

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

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.

Why?

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.

How?

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.

Field Experience

Creating Drama at The Goodman Theater

In the Sophomore Humanities course, Drama, the students have been investigating the guiding question, How does drama stage and heal our roles in society?. Specifically, they have been studying how William Shakespeare, Henrik Ibsen, and Lorraine Hansberry used drama as a way to respond to the expectations and treatment of women in their society. In the second unit of this course, students read Ibsen’s A Doll’s House and investigated the role of the “doll” in 19th century Norway. The students were challenged to respond to the play’s main characters, Nora and Torvald in the form of a screenplay. As a part of the creation of their screenplays, the students visited the educators at the Goodman Theater to get feedback on their work and to learn more about how to write effective dialogue and stage directions.

Why?

The purpose of this Field Experience is to get feedback on the screenplays they’ve been working on and to gain an understanding of how to effectively communicate using dialogue and stage directions.

How?

Students will participate in a series of exercises that will teach them how to give and receive feedback productively in order to refine their screenplays.

Field Experience

Studying Ecosystems at Patchwork Farms

The Freshmen taking Food have been pursuing the guiding question, What does a balanced ecosystem look like?. In the first unit of this STEAM course, students are investigating the types of organisms and the interactions between those organisms that are necessary in order to sustain a healthy ecosystem. As a part of this investigation, students are studying the importance of companion plants, especially when sustaining a farm in a limited amount of space. To gain more insight into how farmers make the most of their space, the students visited Chicago Patchwork Farms, an urban farm in Humboldt Park. At the farm, the students learned more about the make-up of soil, worked with their hands, and even met a couple of chickens.

Why?

The purpose of this Field Experience is for the students to see an urban farm and to learn about what it takes to sustain one.

How?

The students will tour the space, ask questions, and do some actual work to learn firsthand about farming.

Field Experience

A Test of Endurance

Seniors in Endurance are investigating the journeys of endurance of historical fictional and non-fictional heroes. They are tasked with answering the guiding question, How do you endure mental and physical challenges? by actually facing enduring tests. As a part of this investigation, the students embarked on a transformative journey within themselves with the help of Preston Klik, who demonstrated instruments used for sound meditation and led the meditation for the group.

Field Experience

From Farm to Cup at Metropolis Coffee Company

Freshman in the Food For Thought class went to Metropolis Coffee Company’s roastery to learn about the life of the Coffee plant. Students were welcomed into the state-of-the-art roastery where they got a behind-the-scenes look at each step of the process. Metropolis is dedicated to serving a stellar cup of coffee, but what’s even more important to them is respect. Respect is at the core of the company’s philosophy; from farmers to consumers. It was an eye-opening lesson on the effort it takes to be a responsible part of the production chain.

Field Experience

Experiencing Sound at the Chicago Music Exchange

In the second unit of the course, Light, Sound, and Time, the Juniors have been investigating the guiding question, What does life sound like?. As a part of their investigation, they have been examining how sound travels, how we hear sound, and how we make and control sound. At the end of this unit, the students will use the culmination of their learning to construct their own guitar. In order to do this, they visited the Chicago Music Exchange to gain a better understanding of the anatomy and the acoustics of a guitar.

Why?

The purpose of this Field Experience is to gain an understanding of the functions of the different parts that make up an instrument.

How?

Students collected information in order to build their own guitars by speaking with experts at the Chicago Music Exchange.

Field Experience

Defining Dogma at the Muslim Community Center

The Sophomores in Forbidden Books have been investigating the guiding question, How are minds fanaticized?. Specifically, the students have been examining why books have been forbidden for dogmatic reasons through the study of The Bible and The Koran. As a part of their investigation, they visited the Muslim Community Center to learn more about the history and tenets of Islam from their Youth Coordinator, Aminah. Aminah shared insight on her own connection to Islam and the difficulties of teaching Islam to Muslim youth because of its portrayal by the media.

Why?

The purpose of this Field Experience is to dispel myths and to build some cultural understanding of Islam.

How?

Students will visit a mosque and speak to the Youth Coordinator of the Muslim Community Center.

Field Experience

Looking Through a Pinhole

The Juniors in Light, Sound, and Time have been focusing on light and investigating the guiding question: What would life look like without light? . In order to illuminate answers to this huge guiding question, students are examining how light could be captured and manipulated. As a part of this investigation, they built and experimented with pinhole cameras to better understand the role of light and time in creating photographic images. The class visited the darkroom at the Latin School of Chicago and met with photography teacher, Betty Lark Ross to learn more about the power of light.

Why?

The purpose of this Field Experience is to see the concepts of light waves and how we perceive them come to life.

How?

Students will experiment light using their hand-built pinhole cameras.

Field Experience

Closing the Loop at The Plant Chicago

In the third unit of the Biomimicry Elective, the students have been investigating the guiding question, What would a fungus do?. In this unit, students have been investigating fungi and their role as decomposers in order to rethink their definition of waste. The students are drawing inspiration from fungi and other decomposers’ ability to recycle nutrients to turn linear systems into circular systems to design their own closed-loop systems. As a part of this investigation, they visited the Plant Chicago whose mission is to make healthier and more efficient cities by developing and sharing the most innovative methods for sustainable food production, energy conservation, and material reuse. The students got a first-hand look at an aquaponics system and the practical applications of closed-loop systems.

Why

The students visited the Plant Chicago to learn about the practical applications of closed-loop systems.

How

The students explored an aquaponic system and attempted to design their own in order to demonstrate their understanding of closed-loop systems.

Field Experience

Want Not, Waste Not at The WasteShed

Students in the Game Changers Elective have been pursuing the guiding question, How do game components come together?. In this unit of this game design course, students have been examining the different physical components that make up a tabletop game. They investigated the fundamental design of boards, cards, and moving pieces in order to design and build a game of their own. As a part of the creation of their game, they visited The WasteShed Creative Reuse Center to find recycled materials to build a prototype of their game. The WasteShed is dedicated to providing Chicago with an organized, affordable, and reliable resource for repurposed art, craft, and school materials.

Why?

The purpose of this Field Experience is for students to buy materials to build a prototype of their original board games while learning to find value in repurposed materials.

How?

Students will work in small groups to find the materials they need.