By collaborating with partners from across sectors, Chicago Southland STEM Network takes an innovative approach to increase STEM equity, interest, and persistence throughout Chicago’s culturally and economically diverse south suburbs. Chicago Southland STEM Network convenes educators, business leaders, and community enthusiasts to celebrate and strengthen STEM initiatives and workforce development for students. We create pathways:

  • for educators to access professional development opportunities and learn innovative approaches to teaching STEM.

  • for industry partners to engage students in workforce development collaboration projects by offering Network Internships.

  • for female students to explore STEAM careers and find mentors through Girls STEAM Ahead.

  • for community organizations to share their STEM programs through our online STEM Network Directory,

Chicago Southland STEAM Network originated in 2016 and is powered by Homewood Science Center, a nonprofit organization which inspires scientific wonder, learning, and pursuit. 

STEM Network


Free gatherings held twice a year. A forum to meet and mingle, the Network events showcase keynote talks and hands-on demonstrations from leading institutions including Illinois Math and Science Academy (IMSA), Museum of Science and Industry (MSI), and University of Chicago, making STEM expertise accessible to regional STEM stakeholders and educators. 

Girls STEAM Ahead

An annual roundtable luncheon connecting girls in 7th-12th grades with professional women in diverse STEAM fields. Girls build networking, goal setting, and communication skills with the guidance and mentoring from professional and college level women in STEAM. Encouraging continued connection, women offer support through our online Girls STEAM Ahead directory. 

STEM Network


Network Internships Workforce development collaboration projects offered in conjunction with STEM industry leaders along with Homewood Science Center to provide junior high and high school students an opportunity to apply STEM education while working as a team with other students and industry professionals.   


STEM Network Directory

an online resource for regional STEM providers to showcase their programs. Families learn about programs through the STEM Network Directory, making STEM learning accessible in Chicago’s Southland. 

List or find STEM programs in the south suburbs of Chicago!

South Suburban STEM Network Open House, August 30th, 2016

Video credit: Studio 604


STEM Learning in the South Suburbs

Edie Dobrez Executive Director, Homewood Science Center

August 30, 2016

“Homewood Science Center launches STEM Network to foster collaboration”

Homewood-Flossmoor Chronicle, September 5th, 2016.



"STEM Learning Ecosystems provide the architecture for cross-sector learning, offering all young people access to STEM-rich learning environments so they can develop important skills and engagement in science, technology, engineering and math throughout preK-16.


Strong STEM Learning Ecosystems feature dynamic collaborations among schools, out-of-school time programs, STEM expert institutions (such as museums, science centers, institutions of higher education and STEM professional associations), the private sector, community-based organizations, youth and families."



South Suburban STEAM Network joined the STEM Learning Ecosystems in 2018.


As a nationally recognized STEM Learning Ecosystem, the South Suburban STEAM Network is recognized as taking the lead in STEM learning for the greater Chicago Southland region. Recognized along with EvanSTEM and the Chicago STEM Pathways Cooperative, Chicago Southland STEM Network joins a continuum of STEM ecosystems stretching across the Chicago Metropolitan region. 

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ACT Now! Quality Standards Training
Wednesday Feb 12, 2020 / 9am-12pm
@ Homewood Science Center / 18022 Dixie Highway / Homewood, IL
FREE / Register online Earn CEU’s!

Afterschool for Children and Teens Now (ACT Now)  is statewide coalition that works to ensure that young people in Illinois have access to quality, affordable afterschool and youth development programs.  Now’s Quality Standards capture practices that have been demonstrated, through research, to lead to quality afterschool programs and positive outcomes for children. 

This training will:   

  • Provide participants with a background in the Standards

  • Discuss the benefits of the Standards and the research that links quality programming to positive outcomes for youth

  • Explore how to align the Standards with other quality tools

  • Assist providers in creating a plan for implementing the Standards and developing strategies for overcoming obstacles in implementing quality initiatives

  • Discuss how to use the Standards in work with parents, policymakers, funders, and educators  


Credit for the provider training will be available through the Gateways to Opportunity system and participants can also earn CEUs.

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Tuesday March 10, 2020 / 6pm-9pm

Homewood Science Center / 18022 Dixie Highway / FREE Register by March 6

Network, celebrate, and strengthen STEM initiatives and workforce development for students in the culturally and economically diverse region of Chicago’s Southland. Bringing together partners from across industry and education sectors, Chicago Southland STEM Network is recognized in the global network of STEM Learning Ecosystems.

MARCH 10, 2020 AGENDA 
6:00pm: Networking, Aurelio's Pizza, & Building Tours
6:30pm: Network Updates; Edie Dobrez, Executive Director
6:45pm: ACT Now, Susan Stanton
7:15pm: Innovative Curriculum Resource Project 

8:00pm: LEGO Education
8:30pm: Ignite Talks: Showcase your program with our open call. Submit your Ignite Talk today! 10 slides to energize and promote your program!



South Suburban STEAM Network was recently accepted into the STEM Learning Ecosystems Community of Practice, a global movement to change how students learn, educators teach, and how our country’s STEM workforce is developed. We join EvanSTEM and Chicago STEM Pathways Cooperative as Illinois’ representatives within this esteemed group of 68 national and international members. Homewood Science Center's Executive Director Edie Dobrez will share the STEM updates and information gathered at the last national convening. 


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Expanding Quality in Afterschool STEM

Afterschool for Children and Teens Now (ACT Now) is a statewide organization that advocates for quality and affordable afterschool programs --including STEM!  In this talk, ACT Now will share about free tools and trainings to support the use of the research-based Illinois Statewide Afterschool Quality Standards and how theses Standards can boost student outcomes. ACT Now will also share free resources to help plan high quality STEM programming for youth!

Visit ACT NOW! Online at

Innovative Curriculum Resource Project 

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Today's Education for the Careers of Tomorrow

Preparing our students for their futures is no easy task. We teach, test, and train them for every possible outcome that we can think of. However, what if the actual pathway to their success results in a career that has not yet even been created? What if they will be using tools that are not even currently available at companies that have not yet been born? The future is sitting in front of you today and they are excited about what tomorrow has to offer. Are you? 

Visit Innovative Curriculum Resource Project Online at

LEGO Education

Redefining Success through STEM and the Element of Play

In a world that is moving quickly towards technology at its center, how do we adjust our learning styles to remove barriers to STEM learning and simultaneously build 21st century skills? By developing active learning environments that ignite curiosity, we can cultivate lifelong learners and prepare students for the STEM jobs of tomorrow. In this session we focus on the power of playful learning experiences that not only teach valuable skills, but also promote thinking creatively and solving problems collaboratively through hands-on challenges.


Want to share your program with the Chicago Southland STEM Network?

We challenge you to an Ignite Talk - 10 slides set to auto-advance after 45 seconds. 

Submit an Ignite Talk by February 26, 2020. If your talk is selected, you will need to submit your slides to by March 4th.





Students learn by doing. Through the combined efforts of South Suburban STEAM Network, Homewood Science Center, businesses, and institutions, Network Internships are developed in order to create hands-on, inquiry and project-based internship opportunities for junior high and high school students. 

Check back regularly for upcoming opportunities for students.

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Homewood Science Center is sponsoring a conservation ecology based internship for junior high school students. This internship will complement the classroom science content on ecosystems reflected in the Next Generation Science Standards for middle school. 

Led by Patricia Messersmith, Senior Education Museum of Science and Industry and Nicole Fuller, Chicago Public School Science Educator, 6th-8th grade interns will meet at Homewood Science Center and learn from experts as well as work hands-on at Homewood Izaak Walton Preserve where the students will share their volunteer conservation ecology projects with the community on October 20, 2019 during Homewood Science Center's WALK WALTON.


Students worked with Mi-Jack Products, Inc. engineer to build a scale model of the Mi-Jack TRAVELIFT highlighting the simple machines which make the lift function. Students presented their work at Homewood Science Center's PopUp SCIENCE Simple Machines on Saturday May 18th, 2018.

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Students worked with Schneider Electric designing hands-on activities to explore energy conservation and energy efficiency! Students presented their work at Homewood Science Center's PopUp SCIENCE Think Globally, Act Locally: You can make a sustainable difference on July 22, 2017.

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18022 Dixie Highway    Homewood, IL 60430    (708) 206-3369

© 2016 Homewood Science Center  

South Suburban STEAM Network