Alive Center expanding next door to add more STEM programs

A Naperville teen center signed a lease last week that will allow it to enlarge its size and offer more STEM programming.

Alive Center, 500 W. Fifth Ave., will begin expanding into the adjacent 502 W. Fifth Ave. location, where The Alive Innovation Lab will be added.


The lab will feature a room dedicated to science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM; a media room; club meeting areas and a space for tutoring and studying.

The original location will continue to be used after school and on the weekends as an area for teens to hang out and for more active classes.

Alive Center Executive Director Kandice Henning said the plan is to build in phases so that the innovation lab will be fully operational by Jan. 1.

This week, she said, a group will head to IKEA to buy furniture to equip some of the rooms that will be used for quiet studying and tutoring.

The 15 members of the Alive Media Group are excited about the new lab and eager to collaborate on building more blogs, memes and videos that spread positive messages to their peers and community, Henning said.

The group set a fundraising goal of $100,000 and while they haven’t quite met it fully, they have enough to proceed and are hoping for more to come in so tables, desks, chairs and computers for the lab can be purchase, Hening said.

Teens are eager to further develop programs like the Computer Science Club and the Girl’s STEM Camp, launched this year by Naperville North junior Isha Srinivasan.

“I am so excited and grateful for the support we have gotten from the community to be able build a place for STEM,” Srinivasan said in a release. “This will give us the opportunity to expand our STEM programs by adding clubs like Girls Who Code and allow more students to participate.”

The STEM lab is an extension of the center’s mission as teen-led, teen-driven place aimed at empowering youth and giving older teens the opportunity to apply their leadership abilities.

With the new space, Alive will be introducing programs for elementary school youth to spark interest in STEM at an early age.

Alive Center has scheduled a public open house from 1 to 4 p.m. Nov. 11 to provide a look at the new space.

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