STEM Fest Celebration

October 31, 2020
10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

  • STEM Fest 2020 ends with a live virtual celebration on Oct. 31, 2020, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., hosted in partnership with NIU's Office of Undergraduate Admissions.
  • This final event takes place in an assortment of online rooms, which you can visit throughout the day for live interactive talks and demonstrations.
    • Chat with presenters and experts about fun STEAM topics.
    • Explore virtual exhibits created by NIU STEM departments, student groups and our STEM community partners.
    • Participate in STEM challenges.

Preparing for STEM Fest

You don’t have to participate in hands-on activities (there are plenty of videos and live sessions to sit back and watch), but these activities are part of the fun! To make the most of your STEM Fest experience and be prepared for hands-on activities, you’ll want to have some everyday items on hand.
  • Most of our activities can be done with items you have around the house or can easily purchase at the grocery store. To get the full STEM fest experience, you'll want to have some supplies on hand, such as 1-3 cans of Pringles, milk or half and half, dish soap, food coloring, a few Q-tips, some notecards, an egg, Diet Coke and Mentos.
  • If you'd like to delve deeper into some of our more complex hands-on activities, you might also want to have some more specialized items ready, such as a rain gauge, salt, isopropyl alcohol, coffee filters, rubber bands and a blender.
View the complete list of supplies, divided by activity.

Schedule of Events

Join us for these 20-minute presentations and live text chats.

Time Title Room Description
10:10 a.m. ddiLab Huskie Hall Find out more about the research happening in NIU's own ddiLab (data, devices and interaction Lab)! ddiLab supports a range of computer science research projects, with an emphasis on visualization and data analysis coupled to high-performance computing in the support of science.
10:20 a.m. Amusement Park Physics STEM Quest Join NASA Education Specialist Susan Kohler as we discover the physics behind some of your favorite amusement park rides – with a NASA twist! Amusement parks are one of the best places to feel firsthand what astronauts experience while in space. Learn how roller coasters help teach forces of motion and energy transformations.
10:40 a.m. Engineering at Home! Huskie Hall Join NIU's own Christine Nguyen, Ph.D., from the College of Engineering and Engineering Technology for an engineering event that you can do right from the comfort of your own home. We'll use everyday items to create an engineering design that you can keep improving over and over. We look forward to seeing you and your designs!
10:50 a.m. Cyber Security and Codes STEM Quest Join Argonne National Laboratory Cyber Security Analyst Jennifer Fowler to explore the world of cyber security and learn how to code and decode secret messages using a ceaser cipher you can make at home. Discover how this simple encoding and decoding of messages was just the beginning and how cyber professionals work to protect information that is connected to the internet from getting in the wrong hands.
11:40 a.m. NIU STEM Student Panel Huskie Hall Join current NIU students and recent graduates as they discuss their experiences in their education, chosen field and beyond. Get tips on how to find your own “Spark!” and what to expect when you attend NIU.
11:50 a.m. A World Without Atmosphere STEM Quest Join Fermilab vacuum engineer Lucy Nobrega as we explore what would happen if Earth's atmosphere disappeared. Would stuff look the same? Sound the same? See some novel consequences of removing air from a system.
12:10 p.m. Esports Chat and Chew Huskie Hall Are you curious about what Esports is and how to become an Esports team member? Join NIU Esports team members during your lunch hour! Ask them anything you want about the world of Esports.
12:20 p.m. Math, Engineering and Dreams STEM Quest Join authors Kelly Starling Lyons (Dream Builder) and Amy Alznauer (The Boy Who Dreamed of Infinity) along with NIU's own Gillian King-Cargile. Learn how math and engineering influenced the real-life main characters of their books and how they became well known leaders in their fields.
12:40 p.m. Creepy Crawlies Huskie Hall Join NIU Biological Sciences Ph.D. student Ellie Taylor, who is currently studying Musca domestica (the house fly). She will present some traditionally scary insects and discuss why they are not as scary as they may first appear.
12:50 p.m. Leonardo DaVinci Was Wrong! STEM Quest Join Argonne National Laboratory scientists as they demonstrate and lead some friction experiments. Use household items and follow in Leonardo's footsteps to discover what he got wrong and why. Hear from Ben Gould, Ph.D., about modern day friction experiments and why they are so important.
1:10 p.m. FoodMASTER Huskie Hall How is our diet connected with how we feel? How much does our diet affect our everyday life? The FoodMASTER initiative is about using food to teach math and science skills. In this session, we'll discover what the connection is between the foods we eat and our mood throughout the day. We'll explore the anatomy of the digestive system, how nutrients are absorbed in the digestive system and some examples of foods that affect our mood.
1:15 p.m. Thermo Fisher 
STEM Quest Learn how we are actively responding to the current coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 outbreak, as well as the exciting life science research products we develop at the Rockford, IL, Thermo Fisher site. Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. is the world leader in serving science, with annual revenue exceeding $25 billion. Our mission is to enable our customers to make the world healthier, cleaner and safer by accelerating life sciences research, solving complex analytical challenges, improving patient diagnostics and therapies or increasing productivity in their laboratories.
1:45 p.m. Find Your Spark Demo Show All Rooms Join NIU STEAM's own Jeremy Benson as he leads us in a demonstration some of physics fun. The demo show is always a fan favorite at STEM Fest! This year's special show will be all about potential energy (gravitational, elastic and electric) and how we can unlock our own potential by finding our “spark” of creativity.

STEM Fest Online Rooms

Each room has live events as well as content you can explore on your own. 

  • Haunted STEAM Lab – Explore the spooky, slimy, not-so-scary side of STEM with demonstrations, live chats and fun science videos.
  • Huskie Hall – Hear how our Huskies are leading the pack in STEM research and exploration. Live and recorded sessions in the Huskie Hall feature the research and artistry happening at NIU and across the region.
  • STEM Quest – Connect with STEM experts and organizations. Explore STEM careers, chat with experts and see how STEM careers impact our society and world.
  • Live STrEAMed Demos on the Virtual Celebration Stage – STEM Fest is not STEM Fest without our high energy science demonstrations! Don't miss our livestreamed “Find Your Spark” demo show.