Broader Impacts Fair

The National Science Foundation values the advancement of scientific knowledge and activities that contribute to the achievement of societally relevant outcomes. "Broader Impacts" are the set of outcomes established by the National Science Foundation that encourage scientists to use their research and knowledge to improve society at large. Students who apply for the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program need to demonstrate their commitment to broader impacts.

The annual NSF Graduate Research Fellowship (GRFP) workshop and Broader Impacts Fair was held virtually on Thursday, October 8. The 10-minute video discussion of the NSF fellowship application by Senior Lecturer in Biophysical Sciences Adam Hammond is still available for viewing.

Nineteen organizations from the university and the local community presented ways that students can get involved with furthering the reach of their scientific work. They are listed below under four themes. Most of the organizations have volunteer opportunities across two or more themes.

Watch for news of the next Broader Impacts Fair in October 2021!

These organizations provide opportunities for UChicago students to mentor younger scientists.

Argonne National Laboratory Educational Programs and Outreach

Argonne is a Department of Energy multidisciplinary science and engineering research center, where talented scientists and engineers work together to answer the biggest questions facing humanity, from how to obtain affordable clean energy to protecting ourselves and our environment.  Educational Programs and Outreach uses immersive and engaging programs to create STEM pathways for students throughout their journeys.Education volunteers play a critical role in shaping attitudes and understanding among our next-generation scientists and engineers. By becoming an Education Volunteer, you will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of events focused towards K-12 students and their families. 

Contact: Jessica Burgess; join the education volunteer listserv

Opportunities: STEM Festivals, Career talks/days with regional schools (K-12), Panel sessions, workshops for students, Competition judges/volunteers, summer camps and much more. Currently, all events are virtual.

Most relevant disciplines: Any science or engineering area

Carole Robertson Center for Learning

The Carole Robertson Center for Learning is a private non-profit organization serving more than 1000 children and their families on the west side of Chicago. Programs reach children at every stage of development—from birth to age 15—and are bilingual in English and Spanish. Children with special needs are welcome in all programs.

Contact: Kenny Riley

Opportunities: Volunteers to lead STEM activities with youth. Help inspire future scientists. Help analyze program quality data. Support youth with Math homework.

Most relevant disciplines: Social Sciences, Mathematics

Illinois Science & Technology Institute

The Illinois Science & Technology Institute (ISTI) is a STEM-focused nonprofit that provides programs and partnerships to connect companies and universities with classrooms. ISTI supports high schools, universities, and companies who want to impact the next generation of innovators, to build a stronger, more inclusive talent pipeline in Illinois. 

Contact: Sarah Perret-Goluboff

Opportunities: The Illinois Science & Technology Institute (ISTI) is a nonprofit organization that runs a virtual mentoring platform called The Mentor Matching Engine (MME). MME is an online collaboration tool that pairs high school students with mentors to collaborate on student-driven research projects. MME is a great way to give back to younger students—anytime, anywhere. It is also a helpful way to build your own experience in your field of study, build your CV, get students interested in your university, and interact with your community. We typically ask mentors to commit about half an hour a week. Communication is entirely virtual with all discussion and video conferencing through the platform. Mentoring on MME is a great way to reach students who might not otherwise have the opportunity to work with mentors like you.

Most relevant disciplines: Social Justice, Social Science, Psychology, Engineering, Biology, Technology

The University of Chicago Materials Research and Engineering Center (MRSEC)

MRSEC's education outreach aims to foster greater interest and broader participation in STEM among students, especially underrepresented minorities and women on the South Side of Chicago. Our typical volunteer opportunities include running hands-on STEM activities with K-8 students at local elementary schools, teaching an intro to materials science class for high school students, and chances to work with high school students in the lab or in a one-week intensive physics workshop.  We coordinate an annual open house consisting of desktop interactives (often related to research) and lab tours.   There are also family STEM nights throughout the school year where volunteers help engage students and families with STEM concepts through interactive demonstrations.

Contact: Tracy ChmielEileen Sheu

Opportunities: We regularly need volunteers for our science club experiments at local K-8 students and table-top demonstrations for our open house. Volunteers are also needed to brainstorm scientific applications of mathematics and write physics descriptions for the individual demonstrations in the Physics with a Bang! Holiday Lecture. Sign up for notices at:

The University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center

The UCCCC supports cancer education and training initiatives across the career continuum. These include two cancer research pipeline programs: researcHStart for high school students, and Chicago EYES on Cancer for high school and college students from populations underrepresented in the sciences. The EYES program also welcomes secondary science educators from underrepresented communities.

Contact: Megan Mekinda, PhD

Opportunities: The UCCCC is recruiting volunteers to help with a range of education initiatives, particularly our cancer research training programs for high school and college students. Our volunteers serve as peer mentors, panelists and workshop facilitators. They also accompany us to schools and other local organizations (e.g., MSI) to educate our community about biomedical research and careers in the field. Commitments range from one hour to several weeks. There is generally minimal prep work and often none at all.

Most relevant disciplines: Biological Sciences

These organizations provide opportunities for UChicago students to help younger students learn concepts and skills related to engineering and technology.


Artifice is a non-profit organization whose mission is to use project-based, hands-on learning to endow participants with tech skills necessary for the 21st century. Founded by UChicago grad students in 2013, we have partnered with local schools to host afterschool programs in introductory electronics, robotics, and programming. Our afterschool tech center in the Woodlawn neighborhood provides a space for participants to tinker and execute their own tech projects.

Contact: Lawson Lloyd

Opportunities: We are adapting our programs for virtual operation. We have several areas in need of volunteers: 1) Online after-school circuit building & coding programs: we mail parts and help students complete lessons virtually; time commitment of ~1.5-2 hours/week. 2) Online homework and tutoring to help overcome the challeneges of remote-learning. 3) Improving and updating our social media & web prescence. 4) New curriculum development – building and testing your new ideas, especially in the era of virtual instruction. Please reach out for more specifics or questions!

Most relevant disciplines: Physical Sciences, Engineering

Fermilab Lederman Science Center

Fermilab is America's particle physics and accelerator laboratory. Our vision is to solve the mysteries of matter, energy, space and time for the benefit of all. We strive to lead the world in neutrino science with particle accelerators, lead the nation in the development of particle colliders and their use for scientific discovery, and advance particle physics through measurements of the cosmos. Fermilab is a leader in quantum science and hosts the Superconducting Quantum Materials and Systems center as part of the U.S. Quantum Initiative. We drive discovery by developing new technologies that support U.S. industrial competitiveness.

Contact: Rebecca Thompson

Opportunities: Scientists, engineers, graduate students and other STEM employees reach out to schools to share their enthusiasm and knowledge in STEM with grade k-12 students by bringing interactive physics, engineering and computing presentations to area schools. Volunteers are also used at major events such as the Family Open House (February) and STEM Career Expo (April). Those interested in the prairie can participate in the annual seed harvests (September and October). For those interested in bringing their skills to science enthusiasts outside of the classroom we have an art gallery, artist in residence program, and an Arts and Lecture series. This year we have added many virtual opportunities to interact with the public including Ask-a-Scientist, our Virtual Arts and Lecture Series, and Virtual Gallery Talks. Please email or visit our website to find out more!

Most relevant disciplines: Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences

Space Explorers

Space Explorers is a Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics (KICP) program to work with local high school students on weekends and during multi-day institutes to teach them STEM topics such as computer programming, artificial intelligence, critical thinking and more. This year the students will learn about game theory through the lenses of rule-based strategies, physical games, social and political power structures, and evolution of meta strategies.

Contact: Timothy Hoffman

Opportunities: Volunteers can drop in for small individual tasks or help with the program more long-term. Opportunities include assisting with lab design and testing, being a field trip chaperone, facilitating student learning during the institutes, and more! Volunteers are mainly needed around Winter break and in the Summer months. All are welcome to participate!

Most relevant disciplines: Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences,  Social Sciences, Engineering, Mathematics

TTIC Girls Who Code

The Toyota Technical Institute of Chicago (TTIC) has started a Girls Who Code Club. The mission of Girls Who Code is to close the gender gap in technology and to change the image of what a programmer looks like and does.

Contact: Rose Bradford

Opportunities: In our role as a Girls Who Code (GWC) Community Partner, we are looking for facilitators to lead GWC clubs.

Most relevant disciplines: Physical Sciences

These organizations are looking for volunteers to help them expand their capacity to bring science to broader audiences.

Expanding Your Horizons

Expanding Your Horizons Chicago (EYH Chicago) is a non-for-profit organization whose mission is to increase the representation of women from diverse backgrounds in STEM careers by exposing middle-school girls to positive, hands-on STEM experiences. We organize a one day symposium for middle school girls in the Chicagoland area to engage in exciting workshops. This year’s conference will be held virtually on March 20th, 2021 through an online conference platform. 

Contact: Heather Macomber

Opportunities: We are looking for both organizing committee members and day-of-event volunteers. The organizing committee works year-round to plan EYH, doing everything from fundraising to social media to recruiting workshop leaders, and more. The committee meets virtually once in January, and then twice a month until the event in March. Day of volunteers attend one training session, then volunteer during the day of the event. If you’re interested in joining, drop in on one of our monthly meetings!

Most relevant disciplines: Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences,  Social Sciences, Engineering, Mathematics

Homewood Science Center

Homewood Science Center's mission is to inspire scientific wonder, learning, and pursuit. In response to the pandemic, we have distributed thousands of PopUp SCIENCE @Home kits to students and their families in the south suburbs and beyond. This fall and winter we are offering a suite of activities centered on citizen science and utilizing Cornell Labs of Ornithology.  We feel these activities will involve the community in COVID safe yet engaging science activities during this difficult time. In addition, Girls STEAM Ahead Success is a program that targets low-income female minority high school students to address gender inequity in STEAM education and careers.

Contact: Edie Dobrez

Opportunities: 1) Present a STEM topic for our Spotlight On webinar series 2) Develop a hands-on activity kit for elementary age children. 3) Get involved in some capacity in our citizen science project. 4) Serve as a mentor during Girls STEAM Ahead Success webinars.  We are flexible! If you have an idea of how to engage with the community, we want to hear it.

Most relevant disciplines: Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences, Social Sciences, Engineering, Mathematics

Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in STEM

The mission of SACNAS is to support inclusivity, professional advancement, and educational opportunity for STEM undergraduate and graduate students from underrepresented groups. Our mission is to empower and provide the tools for all students to succeed in their respective fields, whether in academia or in industry. We provide a combination of personal and professional development workshops and panels catering to the diverse interests of our members to best prepare them for their next steps in life.

Contact: Carlos Cortez; Angel Salazar

Opportunities: Media Specialists, Event Coordinators, Mentors

Most relevant disciplines: Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences, Social Sciences, Engineering, Mathematics


Strive provides free tutoring and mentoring to Chicago youth who reside on the south side of the city, free of charge, with a focus on supporting the whole child and the immediate community.

Contact: Tameka Walton

Opportunities: We are looking for volunteer tutors for youth aged 9-18 (3rd-12th grades) in all subject matters, with an immediate need for math tutors. One-to-one or small group sessions are held once or twice a week for a total of 90 minutes.

Most relevant disciplines: Social Sciences, Engineering, Mathematics

The University of Chicago Science Policy Group

The University of Chicago Science Policy Group (SPG) is a student organization focused on informing and engaging students on the intersections of scientific research and public policy. SPG holds workshops, seminars, and organizes advocacy and civic engagement efforts, both within Chicago and in concert with national science policy organizations. Students of all disciplines are welcome!

Contact: Paul Jerger,

Opportunities: SPG offers opportunities to create internal workshops or external events, engage in science policy advocacy with elected officials, partner with nonprofits, and myriad other ways of increasing the role of scientific research in the creation and implementation of public policy.

Most relevant disciplines: Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences,  Social Sciences, Engineering, Mathematics

These organizations provide opportunities for UChicago students to tutor younger scientists.

Neighborhood Schools Program

Founded in 1976 as an effort to create pathways of engagement between the University and local schools, the Neighborhood Schools Program has grown and now partners with 50 sites on Chicago's South Side and involves over 500 University student employees/volunteers engaging with more than 4,000 local youth annually. Our 50 sites include elementary, middle, and high schools, community centers, and government offices. We place students in roles such as tutors, teaching assistants, administrative interns, and preschool specialists.

Contact: Monica Luna

Opportunities: NSP employees/volunteers can work in schools as tutors, teaching assistants, and/or administrative interns. Some of our highly-engaged program participants choose to develop and implement their own after-school initiatives at their placement sites. Science undergrad/grad students would help us make science and science research more accessible to community youth on the South Side of Chicago.

Most relevant disciplines: Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences, Social Sciences, Mathematics

Splash! Chicago

Teach about your research, a hobby, or anything else that you are excited to share!  Splash Chicago organizes free classes for high school students on topics ranging from introductory quantum mechanics to international cinema to paradoxes in probability. This year, we will host quarterly virtual one-day events with hour-long classes. We're looking both for board members (weekly meetings to organize events) and teachers (one-time commitment).

Contact: Chloe Lindeman

Opportunities: We have two main roles to fill: teachers and board members. Teachers sign up to teach on a one-time basis. Classes can be on virtually any topic; we try to get a wide range of subjects for each event. The board is a more regular commitment as we meet weekly throughout each quarter to plan our events, reach out to high schoolers, and recruit teachers.

Most relevant disciplines: Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences,  Social Sciences, Engineering, Mathematics

Tutoring Chicago

Tutoring Chicago is a private, non-profit organization that provides free weekly tutoring to nearly 1,000 economically disadvantaged students in grades one through six with the help of nearly 1,000 dedicated volunteers. The organization is entering it's 55th year of service and will have a capacity of 1,000+ students and volunteers for the 2020-2021 program year!

Contact: EL Da' Sheon Nix

Opportunities: Tutoring Chicago is always looking for dedicated and committed volunteers to serve as tutors that provide weekly tutoring/mentoring support to our amazing students. Each tutor is paired with one student to support the student in all subjects. Tutoring Chicago also provides occasional one-time volunteer opportunities where support is needed for various activities and events.  All programs in the fall will start on a digital platform, and the organization will only return to site-based tutoring when it’s deemed safe to do so.

Most relevant disciplines: Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences,  Social Sciences, Engineering, Mathematics

UChicago Mathematics – Polk Brothers Program 

Volunteer opportunities involve participation in various roles in an outreach program whose mission is the improvement of math education in the Chicago Public Schools.  The participants in the program are CPS teachers in the elementary and middle grades.

Contact: Robert Fefferman

Opportunities: We have available teaching assistantships, and other positions that involve interacting with the participating teachers.

Most relevant disciplines: Mathematics

The University of Chicago – Office of Special Programs College Prep - Upward Bound

Founded in 1968, The Office of Special Programs - College Prep (OSP-CP) is one of two college readiness programs operating under the Office of Civic Engagement at the University of Chicago.  Program activities provide under-resourced, 1st generation, under-represented Chicago public high school students with access to a high quality, holistic system of supports that help to set them on a path for post-secondary education and career success.  Academic advising and workshops in college planning, career discovery, and executive skills enhance the curriculum. 

Contact: Katrina BowmanDovetta McKee

Opportunities:  OSP employees or volunteers work in a virtual environment as instructors, teaching assistants and tutors in all levels of English Language Arts, mathematics, science, and advance placement coursework for 9-12 grade students. Program assistants are also needed to support administrative functions related to program coordination, evaluation, communications, outreach and recruitment.  Program hours of operation vary based on the academic term with AM and PM options from October – May and then from  June through September.  Individuals hours are determined by the specific position.

Most relevant disciplines: Education, Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences, Engineering, Computer Science, Social Sciences, Social Work, English Language and Literature, Mathematics

Co-sponsors include the Physical Sciences Division, the Division of Biological Sciences, the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering, the Division of Social Sciences, the College, and the Office of Civic Engagement.