Science First

Science First

Science First Application

What is Science First?

Science First is a free summer science program that strives to increase students’ knowledge and appreciation of the environment via scientific exploration. Students participate in either a four-week or three-week session that takes place at the Chicago Botanic Garden Monday through Friday. Students are provided with all materials they need to participate, including a laptop loan (on loan during the summer,) and transportation.


What do students do?

  • Explore nature and plants through hands on experiments
  • Meet other science-curious students from all over Chicago
  • Interact with scientists and other staff who study and work with plants
  • Gain the skills to conduct scientific research and prepare a presentation
  • Learn about the Garden’s natural areas including our prairie, woods, and river
  • Have opportunities to visit the Chicago Botanic Garden

When is the program?

Science First session will take place in person Monday – Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Students in rising grades 6, 7 and 8: June 28 – July 14 (three-week program)
Students in rising grades 9 and 10: July 17 – August 11 (four-week program)


Who can participate?

Students who are currently in grades 6 through 9 and are enrolled in a Chicago Public School can participate. Students and parents must commit to all weeks of the program and attend an orientation with a parent or guardian prior to the start of the program. Students who are from a racial or ethnic background that is underrepresented in the field of science (Black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC)) and who would benefit the most from college and career support (low-income, first generation to attend college) are encouraged to apply.


What do you need to submit to apply?

  1. A completed application form
  2. A copy of your second-quarter report card (January) or the most recent one you have. Please do not submit progress reports. (Do not hold back on submitting your application because you are waiting for a report card. Just submit the most recent one you have to ensure the application is received by the deadline.) Note: we are not necessarily looking for top grades.
  3. Recommendation form, filled out by a science teacher or community leader (pastor, youth group leader, etc.) who knows you well. It cannot be filled out by someone related to you or a family friend.
  4. Permission slip, signed by you and your parent/guardian.

Apply Online

To be considered for the program, a complete application must be submitted (including recommendation form, permission slip with parent signature, and uploaded report card) by April 15.

It is your responsibility to obtain the report card and all application components, as we do not work with schools to get this information and will not accept it after the deadline. Incomplete applications—those not accompanied by a report card or completed recommendation form—will not be considered. If you have any questions, please email @email or call Karen Segura at (847) 835-6871.