LINCOLN SQUARE — Amundsen High School's "Starry Chicago" project on reducing light pollution won over judges at Wednesday's Aspen Challenge Chicago competition, earning the team one of three coveted slots to present at the upcoming Aspen Ideas Festival.
"This is a very big win for Amundsen," said Principal Anna Pavichevich, who confessed to shaky hands when sharing the news on Facebook.
"Our smart and talented students wowed the judges with their creativity, passion and innovative spirit," she said. "This is just more evidence of all of the outstanding things that are happening in our neighborhood school."
Twenty CPS high schools — including Northside College Prep, Westinghouse College Prep and Rickover Naval Academy — took part in the competition. Teams were given a set of challenges to choose from, including designing the 21st Century library, expanding the availability of fresh and nutritious foods, and illuminating the unknown by creating a citizen science project.
Amundsen's team opted for "illuminating the unknown" and set out to identify solutions that would improve the night skies over Chicago.
"Kids don't understand the sky should be full of stars," said Amy Exposito, one of eight members on Amundsen's team.
The project struck a chord with DNAinfo Chicago's starstruck readers.
One transplant from the Carolinas commented on Neighborhood Square:
"This is fantastic. One of my first thoughts when I moved to Chicago a few years ago was, 'Where are all the stars?' ... I used to love going out and looking at the stars. It's very awesome (emphasis on "awe") and peaceful.... It would improve the ambiance and livability of the city drastically, in my opinion, if they did what these kids say. I hope someone with some power pays attention to them."
Amundsen students will join teams from Lindblom Math and Science Academy and Clemente High School at the Aspen Ideas Festival in late June.
The festival, founded in 2005, is produced by the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic, and gathers "innovative thinkers, writers, artists, business people, teachers, and other leaders from myriad fields ... to delve deeply into a world of ideas, thought, and discussion," according to the festival's website.
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