NIU’s annual STEMfest once again dazzled and educated thousands of attendees of all ages who spent a mid-October Saturday celebrating innovations in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math.
The event attracted nearly 7,500 people to NIU’s Convocation Center, where children and adults learned to do amazing tricks with lasers, petted reptiles, used math skills to win games and hopped into the driver’s seat of several aware-winning vehicles built by NIU engineering and engineering technology students.
New features this year included NIU’s sub-ice rover (SIR) the that was involved in the discovery of new life forms under Antarctica ice caps, NIU’s P-20 Center author Gillian King-Cargile autographing her new book out next month from NIU Press, taste tests of brownies made with healthy (and not so healthy) ingredients, and many art projects that taught STEM & STEAM principals. Among the all-time favorites, fans dissected thousands of cow eyeballs.
More than 200 exhibitors – including a total of 77 NIU departments, centers and student groups along with regional corporations, museums, businesses, and national laboratories – offered hands-on learning games, interactive demonstrations, informative talks and even art projects.
According to evaluations from event visitors, STEMfest met or exceeded expectations of 97% of participants. The highest praise on evaluations went to the 700 NIU students who volunteered to teach and demonstrate STEM principles to attendees with warmth and enthusiasm.
STEMfest, now in its sixth year, was hosted by NIU STEM Outreach and NIU’s Center for P-20 Engagement, which works to inspire today’s students to become tomorrow’s STEM innovators.