Share Tweet Share Email

NIU STEM Outreach invites all young Einsteins to ‘spring into science’ with Science Saturdays

January 30, 2012
Jeremy Benson, assistant director of NIU’s summer youth STEM camps, will lead these interactive Science Saturdays classes.

Jeremy Benson, assistant director of NIU’s summer youth STEM camps, will lead these interactive Science Saturdays classes.

Beginning Saturday, Feb. 11, NIU STEM Outreach will present Science Saturdays, a series of six, interactive, hands-on science classes for students in fourth-grade and higher.

STEM Outreach associate Jeremy Benson will help students explore science, technology, engineering and math (STEM!) and learn concepts such as the physical properties of sound waves and the forces that keep roller coasters from flying off their tracks during loop-the-loops.

Benson is a post-graduate student in the Department of Physics at NIU and assistant director of NIU’s summer youth STEM camps.

He sees Science Saturdays as a great way engage kids with concepts they might normally find challenging. His interactive, high-energy approach is designed to make learning fun.

“These classes will be exciting for students because they’ll get to explore the concepts using their own two hands.” For instance, in the session “Batteries Included,” students will learn about electronics and circuitry by learning how to solder in order to construct their own electronic devices.

All of the sessions are designed to break concepts down using activities where students can see, hear, feel, and experience the science and technology at work in their everyday lives.

Students will even get to literally “break things” in some sessions. During the “How’s That Work?” session, Benson will lead students in taking apart household items such as CD players and vacuums to get a look at the simple machines that power them.

Students in “Roller Coaster Physics” can build model coasters.

Students in “Roller Coaster Physics” can build model coasters.

Students also will be encouraged to ask Benson and his lab assistants lots of questions during the sessions. “Kids are naturally curious,” Benson says. “The great thing about these sessions is that they get to ask questions and get answers from scientists on the spot!”

Benson also presents STEM Outreach’s school programs at elementary and middle schools throughout Illinois and loves to see the joy in kids eyes when they see something in a new way because of science.

“If we can light that spark of excitement about science, we might be able to open up a world of future learning possibilities.”

Parents are invited to attend sessions with their children and get in on the fun. “I like to see parents there,” Benson says. “They can talk about what they learned at home and say ‘Hey, remember when we built that robot together?’ ”

This program is part of NIU STEM Outreach’s ongoing initiative to provide students throughout northern Illinois with additional exposure to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

“Today, society relies on science and technology and the demand for skilled workers in these fields will continue to grow,” STEM Outreach Coordinator Pati Sievert says. “By encouraging young people to engage with these important subjects, we’re helping to build the innovators of tomorrow.”

NIU’s Science Saturdays take place Saturdays in February, March and April in Faraday Hall Room 105 from 9 am to noon.

The cost is $25 per Saturday session and students can sign up for just one or as many sessions as they want. Discounts will be provided to families registering multiple students and for students who participate in all of the sessions.

Space is limited, so register early.

  • Feb. 11 – The Science of Sound
  • Feb. 25 – Programming Robots with Lego Mindstorm™
  • March 10 and 24 – Batteries Included!
  • April 7 – How’s That Work?
  • April 14 – Roller Coaster Physics

For additional information on Science Saturdays and other programs offered by NIU STEM Outreach, contact Jeremy Benson at (815) 753-0533 or [email protected].

by Gillian King-Cargile