Return to Headlines



Park Forest-Chicago Heights School District 163’s longtime and enriching association with the Illinois Math and Science Academy (IMSA) has led to the School District’s selection to serve as the sole pilot school district in the United States for the Iridescent Curiosity Machine Family Science Program. Curiosity Machine is a hands-on science and engineering program that demonstrates the positive effect of parent and mentor involvement on children’s learning of math and science. Families of Barack Obama and Michelle Obama Schools will participate in the program.

A gathering of 164 parents and students from Barack Obama and Michelle Obama Schools in early fall attended the kick-off meeting of Curiosity Machine, which will connect students and families with STEM experts such as scientists, researchers, medical professionals and engineers from academia and industry. During afterschool sessions, parents will learn alongside their children to acquire knowledge and skills to support their children’s development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills. The goal of the program is to increase students’ exposure to STEM fields as well as their content knowledge.

District 163 is partners  in the endeavor with IMSA; Iridescent, a global non-profit organization that developed Curiosity Machine; the Overdeck Family Foundation, which is providing $130,000 in funds each year for three years for District 163’s program; and Robinson Engineering, which is sharing its engineers’ expertise with the School District.

District 163 science teachers will present design challenges from Curiosity Machine during five, two hour Family Science sessions from 6:30 – 8:30 pm. Parent Leaders will provide support during the sessions. The remaining sessions at Michelle Obama School are November 16, December 1, December 7, and December 12. The remaining sessions at Barack Obama School are November 17, December 1, December 8, and December 14. The Curiosity Machine program is free and dinner is provided.

Iridescent is a science, engineering, and technology education nonprofit organization that empowers underrepresented young people to become self-motivated learners, inventors, and leaders. Since 2006, more than 63,000 children, parents, mentors, and educators have participated in its two global programs: Technovation, the world’s largest global tech entrepreneurship program for girls, and Curiosity Machine, a unique, open-ended, project-based learning program that inspires students, families, and teachers to solve science and engineering problems together. Iridescent has proudly trained more than 3,500 engineers and scientists to develop design challenges and/or mentor students and families. In recognition of its pioneering work for the collective impact in underserved communities, Iridescent received the prestigious 2015 Excellence in Mentoring award, a US2020 White House Initiative.