Science live on TV, courtesy of students

Staff Writer

Teens working with the Museum of Science and Industry’s (MSI) Science Achievers youth development program just completed their first season of recording the live call-in TV show “Teens Exploring Science with a Live Audience” (TESLA).

The Science Achiever’s youth development program at MSI, 5700 S. Lake Shore Dr., is a program that allows teens to learn more about science and technology while developing leadership skills. The teens often work with professionals and are given opportunities to participate in paid internships. By offering the program, one of the museum’s goals is to make teens become more comfortable with science and consider studying science in college and choosing it as a career. There are currently about 200 high school students in the program.

The TESLA TV show just completed its first season. MSI chose eight of the program’s students to work on the show in front of the cameras, on the phone lines and as stage managers.

“The show gave the youth the opportunity to share what they’ve learned with a wider audience,” said Bryan Wunar, director of community initiatives at MSI, who said the teens usually give demonstrations in the halls of MSI or at different community events.

Wunar, who worked with CAN-TV during his time as a professor at Loyola University, went back to the station again to develop the idea for TESLA, which is a hotline call-in show that is targeted toward elementary school students in the third through fifth grades.

Wunar said having the phone lines available for students to call and interact with the teens while watching the show is a great way to “engage the audience and allow viewers to see the thinking and learning process.”

He said it’s also important for the science achievers to learn how to communicate what they’ve learned to an audience.

The theme for the program’s first season was “Simple Machines.” The eight-person crew included students from Kenwood Academy, 5015 S. Blackstone Ave.; Whitney Young High School, 211 S. Laflin St.; Young Women’s Leadership Charter High School, 2641 S. Calumet Ave.; Lincoln Park High School, 2001 N Orchard St.; Homewood Flossmoor 999 Kedzie Ave.; Parker High School, 330 W. Webster Ave. and homeschooled youth. The group built incline planes, pulley systems and levers and other simple machines “we use all the time but never stop to think about what they do for us,” Wunar said.

Wunar said the second season will start in February and consists of 10 shows.

“We are looking to increase at-home participation,” Wunar said. “We want [viewers] to try the experiments and call in to ask questions and compare results.”