By Tom Parisi
NIU Media and Public Relations
DEKALB, Ill. — STEMfest will wow spectators at the Northern Illinois University (NIU) Convention Center, 1525 W. Lincoln Hwy., DeKalb, Ill., from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19.
This annual festival introduces learners of all ages to cutting-edge technologies and intriguing science phenomena that will amaze students, parents and educators alike. The event is open to the public. Parking and admission are free.
Hosted by NIU STEM Outreach, the event aims to educate and inspire students to pursue careers in STEM fields.
More than 200 hands-on exhibits at STEMfest 2013 will include favorites such as robotics challenges, Laser Lab, the Haunted Physics Lab, cow eyeball dissections, the College of Engineering and Engineering Technology’s student-made vehicles, and the Midwest Museum of Natural History’s bone and fossil collection and creepy petting zoo.
This year, more than 400 NIU students, faculty and staff volunteers will be on hand to help with these demonstrations, explain amazing phenomena and assist visitors in their explorations.
STEM Outreach, along with community and university partners, are also preparing new exhibits and activities from the U.S. Navy, Rockford’s Nicholas Conservatory & Garden, ComEd, NASA Ambassadors, and more.
Organizers are especially excited to welcome the creators of MashPlant, an online workspace that makes social media and virtual collaboration safe and accessible for students and teachers. MashPlant is co-sponsoring this year’s Explain It Video Competition. Visitors to the MashPlant booth can watch video submissions and vote for the Audience Choice award.
Also at the MashPlant booth, visitors can see the Mobile DJ Unit from Redmoon Theater Company, a Chicago-based performance group that blends puppetry, pageantry and gadgetry into their robust physical performances. MashPlant and Redmoon will also appear on the STEMfest Stage at 2:30 p.m.
“We’re going to have them on the stage talking about some of their creations, and we’ll have one on site,” said Jeremy Benson, STEM outreach and engagement associate. “They’re going to be bringing their mobile DJ cart, which is a Segue that has been retrofitted with a sound system and a bubble blower. They will be cruising around the track on their mobile DJ cart, supplying some tunes and some bubbles for us.”
Additionally, STEMfest’s Book Fair will host award-winning science fiction author Kat Falls.
At 1 p.m. on the STEMfest Stage, Falls will discuss her books — Dark Life, Rip Tide and Inhuman — and participate in a Q&A. She will also be available for book-signings throughout the day. Falls’ novels earned the designation of STEM Teen Read official selections for October. Her books and other fiction and non-fiction titles, including a large selection of books from Usborne, will be available for purchase in the Book Fair area. A portion of the proceeds will support STEM Outreach’s year-round community programs.
Also at the STEMfest Stage, visitors who want to chill out can watch STEM Outreach’s queen of cool Pettee Guerrero. Guerrero will present “Fun with Liquid Nitrogen” demonstrations throughout the day.
Visitors can also watch robots from F.I.R.S.T. Robotics fling Frisbees and climb a variety of obstacles in the STEMfest Robo Arena. The full schedule of stage presentations and robotics challenges is posted at niu.edu/stemfest.
STEM Outreach will also present awards and prizes to the STEMfest 2013 winners of the Science Fiction Writing Contest and the Explain It! Video Competition.
STEMfest is free and open to the public. The festival is supported by NIU’s Division of Outreach, Engagement and Information Technologies; the Center for P-20 Engagement; and University Relations with additional support from 3M, Dart Foundation and Ball Horticultural Company. Donations that support STEM Outreach’s year-round community activities will be accepted.
For more information, call (815) 753-1201.
From the Oct. 16-22, 2013, issue