STEM Outreach’s Bright Futures event April 30 will teach students how to harness wind energy

April’s Bright Futures event will teach students the power of wind and the science behind the turbines that dot the northern Illinois landscape.

April’s Bright Futures event will teach students the power of wind and the science behind the turbines that dot the northern Illinois landscape.

April’s strong, gusty winds are good for more than just flying kites.

The next Bright Futures program, “Fun with Wind Energy,” will introduce elementary and middle school students to alternative energy and the science behind wind turbines. This free event will begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 30, at NIU’s Engineering Building, 590 Garden Road.

Free parking will be available in the NIU parking lots surrounding the building.

“Wind is an important source of energy for us to tap into as it contributes very little to the accumulation of greenhouse gases,” says Pati Sievert, director of STEM Outreach.

Sievert and Melissa Burlingame, program coordinator for the Institute for the Study of the Environment, Sustainability, and Energy, will share how wind energy can be harnessed to do work. Students will then get to participate in hands-on activities to test the different aspects of windmills and discover what makes them most effective in generating energy.

At these free Bright Futures programs, students learn by doing. Students get hands-on experience working with circuits and electricity.

At these free Bright Futures programs, students learn by doing. Students get hands-on experience working with circuits and electricity.

Burlingame says that this event will be a good way for students to have fun while learning about the technologies that will shape their future. “When these kids grow up, they will have opportunities to continue to enhance the use of wind energy. Getting them excited about this rapidly growing field early will help them ask questions we never thought to ask and take the technology to the next level,” she says.

Bright Futures will continue to offer fun, educational programs throughout the spring.

On Sunday, May 12, organizers will present the Electric Art Lab at NIU’s Department of Physics, where kids can learn the science behind electric art and then create some art of their own.

The program will conclude Thursday, June 6, with an Electric Fair at the DeKalb Public Library. The fair will celebrate electricity with electrified hot dogs and pickles, face painting, squishy circuits, electric art and much more.

STEM Outreach associate Jeremy Benson recently visited the DeKabl Public Library to demonstrate the new snap circuit kits that are now available for checkout.

STEM Outreach associate Jeremy Benson recently visited the DeKabl Public Library to demonstrate the new snap circuit kits that are now available for checkout.

Bright Futures is a partnership among DeKalb Public Library, Cortland Community Library, Hinckley Public Library District, Sycamore Public Library and NIU STEM Outreach and is sponsored by a generous grant from the DeKalb County Community Foundation.

In addition to the live events, the Bright Futures program helped the libraries purchase hands-on circuit kits and books and DVDs about energy, electricity, and electrical engineering.

These materials are available for check out from participating libraries.

For more information, call (815) 753-0533 or email jjbenson@niu.edu.

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