Lab News

If you have not already done so, please start the "Back to Lab" process through PowerSchool. Before you are able to access your documents, you will first be asked to update/verify your family and emergency contact information.

Once you do that, you'll have access to information you need to start the school year with ease: class schedules, arrival/dismissal times, drop-off/pick-up procedures, ordering textbooks and PE uniforms, and more.

For help with PowerSchool, the Parent Portal, and Schoology send an email to

The first day of school is Tuesday, September 4, 2018.

Read more about Back to Lab 2018 documents available now in PowerSchool

All parents, guardians, and caregivers will be required to wear a University-issued ID on a white parent lanyard (i.e., a Lab parent ID) at all times when on either campus beginning on the first day of school. So that you are ready on the first day of school, please consider getting your ID as soon as possible.

For your convenience, the University ID and Privileges Office will be providing carding services for parents, guardians, and caregivers on Lab's campus during the following dates and times:

  • Monday, August 27, 8 a.m.–4 p.m., Judd C116
  • Tuesday, August 28, 8 a.m.–4 p.m., Earl Shapiro Hall, Little Lobby
  • Wednesday, August 29, 8 a.m.–4 p.m., Gordon Parks Arts Hall, Sherry Lansing Theater
  • Thursday, August 30, 8 a.m.–3 p.m., Earl Shapiro Hall, Little Lobby
  • Thursday, August 30, 8 a.m.–3 p.m., Gordon Parks Arts Hall
  • Tuesday, September 4, 7:30–9 a.m., Earl Shapiro Hall, Main Lobby
  • Tuesday, September 4, 12–4 p.m., Judd Hall, John Rogers Board Room, C103
  • Wednesday, September 5, 7:30–9 a.m., Judd C116
  • Wednesday, September 5, 12–2 p.m., Earl Shapiro Hall, Main Lobby
  • Wednesday, September 5, 5:30–8:30 p.m., Earl Shapiro Hall, Main Lobby
  • Thursday, September 6, 7:30–9 a.m., Earl Shapiro Hall, Main Lobby
  • Thursday, September 6, 5:30–8:30 p.m., Earl Shapiro Hall, Main Lobby
  • Thursday, September 6, 4:30–9 p.m., Judd C116
  • Friday, September 7, 7:30–9 a.m., Earl Shapiro Hall, Main Lobby
  • Monday, September 10, 2–6 p.m., Earl Shapiro Hall, Main Lobby
  • Tuesday, September 11, 2–6 p.m., Judd Hall, John Rogers Board Room, C103
  • Thursday, September 13, 4:30–9 p.m., Judd Hall, John Rogers Board Room, C103
  • Thursday, September 13, 5:30–8:30 p.m., Earl Shapiro Hall, Main Lobby
  • Monday, September 24, 6–9 p.m., Judd Hall, John Rogers Board Room, C103
  • Friday, October 19, 8 a.m.–2:30 p.m., Earl Shapiro Hall, Main Lobby
  • Friday, October 19, 8 a.m.–2:30 p.m., Judd Hall, John Rogers Board Room, C103
  • Thursday, November 8, 8 a.m.–2:30 p.m., Kovler Gym

Parents & Guardians affiliated with University of Chicago
Your University-issued UChicago Card, attached to the white parent lanyard will serve as your Lab Parent ID and will provide appropriate access to the Schools. You may pick up your white lanyard by showing your UChicago card at the Judd, Blaine, or Earl Shapiro Hall security desks, by stopping by any of the carding sessions, or by visiting the Business Office in Blaine S101.

Parents & Guardians unaffiliated with University of Chicago
Beginning Monday, August 20, you may obtain your Campus Card and parent lanyard by visiting any of the on-campus sessions listed above or the University ID and Privileges Office inside the Regenstein Library, located at 1100 E. 57th St. (Click for library hours.) You must bring a state- or government-issued ID with you. At the office or the on-campus session, you will take a photo ID and receive your Campus Card and Lab parent lanyard.

Expired parent & guardian IDs
Each year a number of Campus Cards expire. Expired cards for parents and guardians will be renewed and reprinted shortly after expiration and will be available for pick up the Judd Hall security desk throughout the year. An email will be sent to parents and guardians once the renewed ID is available for pick up.

As a Lab parent or guardian, you may request up to three Lab Caregiver IDs for your family. To request an ID, please complete the Caregiver ID Request Form. The cost of requesting a new or replacement Lab Caregiver ID is $23.00 and will be billed through FACTS. After the form is submitted, the parent or guardian receives an email notification when the Caregiver record has been created. The Caregiver then may visit any of the on-campus carding sessions or the ID & Privileges Office to pick up his or her ID card. The caregiver will need a government-issued photo ID, such as a passport, state ID, or driver's license, to present at the IPO. Please note that the name and birth date on the form must match the information on the government-issued ID.

For more information, please visit the Lab Parent ID webpage.

Read more about Getting your Lab parent or caregiver ID as early as possible will simplify the first weeks of school

Almost all of our families have reviewed their contact and emergency information in PowerSchool. However, every year, we have situations where important changes were overlooked (cell phone changes, new email addresses, etc.). Please take a moment to log into PowerSchool before the start of school and ensure your information is up to date.

Read more about Please correct your family contact information if you made a change

The Parents' Association (PA) is pleased to welcome you to this amazing community. Every parent or guardian is a member of the Parents' Association, which is led by an elected board of volunteers. Events and initiatives of the PA are also supported by hundreds of additional parent volunteers each year. Sign up for volunteer opportunities here or email the Parents' Association to find out more about the work of the PA and how to get involved. You will find many upcoming events sponsored or co-sponsored by the Parents' Association listed on the PA website, and in every edition of Enews.

The first weeks of school are filled with excitement and questions, and the PA Councils (Earl Shapiro Hall, Lower School, Middle School, High School) work hard to help transmit information to parents through the new family mentor program, orientation events, Back to School Nights, and other events. Please see our presidents' and councils' letters for relevant upcoming events here.

Read more about Welcome from the Parents' Association!

The Parents' Association will be assisting staff in the ESH carline for the first three weeks of school. Parent volunteers are needed during morning drop-off from 8–8:40 a.m. Assistance includes helping students out of the cars and directing them to their classrooms. Any time you can give is greatly appreciated. Please sign up here. For questions, please contact Samantha Morales.

Read more about Volunteers needed to assist in ESH carline, September 4–21, 8–8:40 a.m.

Find out how to get involved! Learn about opportunities to contribute to the school community and meet parents and administrators who lead various events. Opportunities range from two hours on a weekend to year-long leadership positions—from BookSwap to Rites of May and help supporting other philanthropy or sporting events. Click here to see a list of volunteer opportunities and to sign up. For more information, please contact P.A. Co-Presidents Barb Kern or Lauren Polite.

Read more about All-schools volunteer fair, Friday, September 6, 8–9 a.m., ESH Lobby

Morning: Cheer on the Maroons!

  • 10 a.m., Boys Soccer (Junior Varsity) vs. Latin
  • 11:30 a.m., Boys Soccer (Varsity) vs. Latin
    Food trucks will be available during and after the games. After the Varsity soccer game, come play on the field! Parents' Association will facilitate games and activities for younger kids.

Evening: Movie on the Turf

  • 7:30 p.m. (movie to begin at dusk)
    Enjoy a private viewing of Disney's Moana (rated PG) on the new turf. Bring your blankets and chairs to get cozy. Lab will provide the popcorn and drinks.

Read more about Jackman Field Day: Celebrate the opening of Lab's revitalized Jackman Field, Saturday, September 15, 10 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.

In partnership with the University of Chicago campus environment and campus planning team, we will be doing the work of developing a landscape master plan to help shape the best use of our Historic Campus green spaces over the coming years. We can't do it without you.

The landscape architects will be holding a family "charette" during Jackman Field Day. A charette is an opportunity for stakeholders in a project to contribute to and help map solutions. You will be invited to drop in and, through hands-on activities, help the designers understand the ideas and hopes you have for your school's green spaces. Activities will be tailored to people in grade 3 and older.

Read more about Save the date: Help Lab envision the future of our Historic Campus green spaces, Saturday, September 15, between 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

All parents are invited to join us for the first Parents' Association meeting of the school year! New members of the administration will be introduced and key members of the administration will share their plans and ideas for the new academic year. For more information, please contact P.A. Co-Presidents Barb Kern or Lauren Polite.

Read more about General Parents' Association meeting: Welcome to the year, Monday, September 24, 7–8:30 p.m., Judd C116

A dozen high schoolers are on a 10-day educational tour of China

A dozen high schoolers—four from the Laboratory Schools, four from Woodlawn Charter School, and four from RDFZ, Lab's partner school in Beijing—are on a 10-day educational tour of China. They are retracing the steps taken by John Dewey when he visited China for 26 months starting in 1919. Along the way, at Nanjing Southeast University, before a crowd of nearly 300 people, the students reenacted the very speech that Dewey gave nearly 100 years earlier and did so in the very same gymnasium. (They read it in both English and Chinese.) Accompanied by Lab teacher Xiaoli Zhou, UChicago Charter teacher Amina Beloucif, and, for a portion of the trip, Director Charlie Abelmann, the students have met with academicians and kindergarten students and visited rural locations and major cities. With the guidance of documentary filmmaker Ben Kolak, the students are recording their experience and reflecting upon how their different perspectives shape that experience and influence one anothers'.

The "delegation" has been getting some media attention. If you open these links in Google Chrome, you should be offered the option of having the pages translated into English. We can't vouch for the accuracy of Google Translate, but it's interesting!

As the students complete their trip, a group of Laboratory School educators are just embarking on their study tour. Stay tuned.

Read more about Following in John Dewey's Footsteps. Literally.

Labbies join the likes of Elton John, Taj Mahal, and Nas as they cut wax records on an historic, one-of-a-kind recording machine

Labbies join the likes of Elton John, Taj Mahal, and Nas as they cut wax records on an historic, one-of-a-kind recording machine

Allison McGourty and Bernard MacMahon, creators, writers, producers, and directors of a multi-part BBC/PBS documentary, American Epic, that explores the birth of the recording industry, have been Lab's Kistenbroker artists in residence this year. Lab is working with them to help shape a curriculum to go with the documentary as it is used as a teaching tool at schools across the country. At the end of May, during their final visit to Lab they brought a special "guest," the original 1920s Western Electric recording system—the only one still in existence—used in the American Epic films, and which allowed the music industry as we know it to come into existence.

Engineer Nicholas Bergh, who pieced together the machine over a ten-year labor of love, brought and re-built the machine in the Corvus Gallery. Mr. Bergh then "produced" student recording sessions. This was the first time the machine has "traveled" and no one else—save for the musicians recorded for the documentary (and helped by Jack White and T Bone Burnett)—has ever recorded on it.

Students of all ages shared their art and practice, from Middle and High School spoken word artists, to a U-High jazz trio. On the last day of the Lab sessions,, 125 kindergarten students sat on the floor of the Gordon Parks Arts Hall John Rogers lobby, surrounding an antiquemicrophone, sang (and signed!) the hopeful classic, "What a Wonderful World." They may not have sung the same words at the same time, but they succeed in just one take.

"You have to remember that we are recording on equipment that is almost 90 years old," Mr. Bergh told an audience of Lower School students during one of more than a two dozen classroom experiences held in the Corvus Gallery. Duke Erikson, an American Epic writer and producer assisting Mr. Bergh in the gallery-turned-studio, says, "seeing student reactions, listening to their great questions, and observing the looks on their faces when they hear themselves" on vinyl makes this form of sharing American history rewarding. He notes that Labbieshave a level of curiosity he has not before experienced.

"We wanted to make sure that the American Epic experience was available to the entire Lab community," said Music Department Chair Roz Torto. In addition to the historic arrival, and use, of the Western Electric recording system,, staff and faculty had their first "guitar social" with musicians from the Old Town School of Folk Music, and the week culminated with aconcert by multi-instrumentalist and American Epic session artist, Hubby Jenkins.

The Laboratory Schools are uniquely positioned to facilitate these types of integrative, multisensory experiences steeped in hands-on, real world pedagogy.

Mr. Macmahon was moved by essays Lab students wrote about the Hopi tribe featured in the film. "These lives and histories intersect," Mr. MacMahon says . "The music of families in the 1920s has been passed on to a new generation here at Lab. The opportunity to interact with history—through the machine that allowed America to hear itself for the first time—these ideas that are being nurtured could expand to other classrooms across America."

Read the Kistenbroker Family Artist in Residence program here.

Read more about Making history in 3.5 minutes

Mathematician Eugenia Cheng offers the formula: Music + Math + Baking = A love of math

Mathematician Eugenia Cheng offers the formula: Music + Math + Baking = A love of math

Eugenia Cheng has her PhD in pure mathematics from the University of Cambridge, and alongside her research in category theory her aim is to rid the world of "math phobia." She spent the morning at Lab wowing kids and adults with displays of knot theory, checkerboard cakes, and baking puzzles to explain math concepts. (She is a proclaimed lover of dessert and a classically-trained musician.)

Ms. Cheng is also scientist in residence at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an honorary fellow at the University of Sheffield, who has taught at UChicago and Cambridge. During her morning presentation in Gordon Parks Auditorium, Ms. Cheng repeatedly reminded her younger audience that they were seeing—and understanding!—concepts that most people don't get to see until graduate school.

Says Lab math teacher Carrie Prystalski, "Within the math department, we have a Math Outside the Classroom Committee. One of our goals has been to bring in a speaker who might stretch the way our students think about mathematics. We needed to find a speaker who was brilliant, but could also reach a room of students."

With Eugenia Cheng, they nailed it.

Read about Ms. Cheng in The New York Times. See her with Stephen Colbert.

Read more about Labbies get a new taste for math