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Chicagoland students wrap up fall semester of Create a Spark program, focused on building next generation of scientists, engineers and innovators
CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–As part of their effort to prepare the next generation of clean energy professionals, ComEd and HFS Chicago Scholars are celebrating the fifth year of their Create a Spark program and its second graduating class. The Create a Spark program is a four-year curriculum for high-achieving Chicago high school students to learn about energy, climate change, the electric grid and renewables like wind and solar. This semester, 37 juniors and 46 seniors participated in a curriculum designed by ComEd mentors and the National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project.
“From energy basics to applied engineering, the ComEd Create a Spark program provides hands-on learning opportunities for students to learn about the power grid,” said Gil Quiniones, CEO of ComEd. “As we work towards a clean energy future, educating the next generation of STEM leaders will be crucial for this transition. I look forward to the impact these students will have on the world as they pursue their own STEM careers.”
Since fall 2018, ComEd has welcomed over 175 students into the Create a Spark program. One hundred percent of the 2022 graduating class is currently attending a college or university, and 60 percent of those students are pursuing a science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) degree. The program uses a rigorous four-year, hybrid curriculum to connect students with ComEd mentors.
“HFS prides itself on the success of its scholars, and much of that success can be attributed to the valuable mentorship these students receive during their four-year program,” said Matthew Suss, Director of Operations at HFS Chicago Scholars. “Having regular opportunities to work with ComEd engineers in Create a Spark provides real-life examples of STEM careers and helps encourage many of our scholars to pursue STEM degrees in college.”
This year’s junior class ended their semester with a community outreach project designed to educate ComEd customers on their energy efficiency and personal impact on climate change. Their projects focused on the power of a social media campaign detailing simple, affordable actions ComEd customers can take to be reduce their monthly power bills and energy use, including exchanging incandescent light bulbs for LEDs and unplugging appliances when not in use. These campaigns were presented to ComEd engineers and executives on Saturday, Dec. 10.
The 2022 senior class designed, insulated and built their own energy efficient model homes, complete with solar panels. This project helped teach these young adults about the cost of their energy bill while exposing them to various aspects of STEM to complete their homes. A graduation ceremony for these students will be held in spring 2023.
Freshmen and sophomore students will participate in Create a Spark during the 2023 spring semester, where freshmen will learn about energy and STEM careers and sophomores will focus on electric circuits and components of the power grid.
“NEED programming teaches students about energy, but it also allows them to gain the workforce and leadership skills necessary for their future careers,” said Mary Spruill, Executive Director at National Energy Education Development. “ComEd’s Create a Spark program encourages high school students to explore engineering with the support of mentors. We are proud to play a role in providing the resources and opportunities for these students’ success.”
Interested students can apply to HFS in the fall of eighth grade. To qualify, students must plan to attend a private high school that requires tuition in the Chicagoland area and meet a variety of academic criteria. All HFS Chicago Scholar participants are automatically enrolled in the Create a Spark program.
The ComEd Create a Spark program is one of many STEM education programs offered throughout the year. Other signature programs include, ComEd STEM Labs, focused on encouraging more students of color to purse STEM careers, the ComEd EV Rally, a program for Chicagoland girls to learn about electric vehicles (EVs) and STEM while connecting with women mentors, and the ComEd Youth Ambassadors, a summer course for students to learn about energy efficiency, renewable energy and the power grid.
Students, parents and educators interested in being notified about upcoming ComEd STEM youth programs and when to apply can submit their email address at: STEMsignUp.com/ComEd.
ComEd is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation (NASDAQ: EXC), a Fortune 200 energy company with approximately 10 million electricity and natural gas customers – the largest number of customers in the U.S. ComEd powers the lives of more than 4 million customers across northern Illinois, or 70 percent of the state’s population. For more information visit ComEd.com, and connect with the company on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
HFS Chicago Scholars helps underserved Chicago high school students flourish in and out of the classroom by providing educational enrichment through our lifelong mentoring, college readiness and academic excellence programs, as well as providing financial assistance to attend top Chicago-area schools