By Alisa & Emily P.
On October 9, 2015, Ms. Vai's Ethical Entrepreneurship class and Mrs. Johnson's AP Biology class went on a field trip to the McCrone Research Institute. We had the opportunity to use polarized light microscopes, solve a burglary case with the use of small samples of fabric, examine a variety of substances such as: table salt, starch, marble, silk, oil soot, dandruff, clay... The list goes on! We even got to prepare our own sample slides with mineral oil, cotton, wool, and polyester. For our last session, our instructor showed us how to heat up TNT with a small flame, and use the microscopes to watch it change color as it continued to warm up. It looked as if someone was creating a painting.
The McCrone Research Institute has been active since 1952 and was founded by Dr. Walter C. McCrone in 1960. Our instructor has had a lot of experience with Forensic Science and using high-tech microscopes, so we learned about interesting information that is usually kept behind the scenes. This field trip was one of the many events from Chicago Ideas Week. For one week each October, the Chicago Ideas Week invites many speakers from different career fields to present their ideas and experiences.
Fellow Blogger Emily P. attended more CIW trips! Here's what she had to say:
Another amazing opportunity that was presented to Ms. Vai's business class was the chance to spend October 16 at the Cadillac Palace Theater to watch the Edison Talks. The theater was gorgeous, and the stage was stunning. A clever decision by those in charge of CIW was to start the show by having a two-minute countdown. This played into the theme of the Edison Talks, which this year sought to answer the prompt "Is There Time for...". Edison Talks are the longest and most immersive day of CIW, where the audience disengages from the outside world and instead takes their minds to a place of wonder and innovation.
The talks opened with the most obvious question, "Is There Time?" which Olympic speed skater John K. Cole attempted to answer. His take on time is that it is neither chronological nor linear. He believes that depth and perception of memory can make time seem longer or shorter. I had the opportunity to talk with him after the talks, and he was extremely friendly in elaborating. I asked how we can make our lives seem longer, and he responded with three things he thinks all people can do:
1. Increase breadth and depth of mind (Always be fully engaged in what you are doing)
2. Replace repetition with meaning (Switch up your schedule to prevent the feeling that days are just flying by)
3. Expand your mind (Try new things)
My favorite speaker was Salman Khan, however. As the founder of Khan Academy, he has saved my grades many times, and I am sure many of you can relate. His humble story of tutoring his cousin to being recognized by Bill Gates on TV made it seem possible that any little bit of help can grow into an idea that is widely praised by all. His question, "Is There Time to Make Education A Human Right?" was a problem directly solved by his business, and I cannot wait to see Khan Academy grow throughout the world.
Other riveting speakers including Jennifer Eigenbrode (Is There Time for us to Live on Mars? Yes!), Jason Mayden (Is There Time to Regain the Lost Genius? Yes!), and perhaps most famously, Michael Strahan. His answers to "Is There Time to Wake Up Happy?" revived the entire crowd and really gave a good sense of his values, which were to always push yourself and say "Not If, But When I...".
In all honesty, Chicago Ideas Week was one of the most eye-opening experiences I have ever had, and if anyone gets the chance, they should try to go next year.
You can read more about the McCrone Research Institute and Chicago Ideas Week [CIW] here: