Libraries to host ‘Energize Your Mind’ events, Sycamore kicks off spring STEM series Feb. 11

STEM Saturday!The popular Bright Futures series launches its spring 2013 season at local public libraries in February.

Hands-on activities for children and their families will spark their understanding of energy, electricity and electrical engineering.

Funded by the grant from the DeKalb County Community Foundation, Bright Futures is a partnership of NIU STEM Outreach with libraries in Cortland, DeKalb, Hinckley and Sycamore.

The kick-off events will feature razzle-dazzle demonstrations of the Van deGraff generator, which makes hair stand on end and sends pie pans flying; a Jacob’s Ladder of indoor lightning; an electrified pickle; and more. STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) expert Jeremy Benson and NIU students will introduce energy and electricity principles and assist participants with hands-on activities.

Children will also be able to explore and experiment with new snap circuit kits that can be checked out. Print materials related to energy and electricity – and appropriate for children of all ages – can also be checked out at local libraries.

Bright Futures 2013 expands on a successful program at the DeKalb Public Library in 2012. The schedule for February:

Starting in March, Bright Futures will partner with the libraries to present “squishy circuits” that conduct electricity, a tour of the NIU Engineering Building and hands-on activities, wind energy experiments, and an electric art lab.

NIU STEM Outreach logoAn Electric Fair in June will culminate the program.

Local librarians and STEM Outreach planned the Bright Futures proposal with local librarians who requested expansion of the program to other DeKalb County libraries. The DeKalb County Foundation contributed funds to build the libraries’ collections of hands-on equipment and books as well as STEM-based programming.

STEM Outreach increases STEM literacy and interest for K-12 students, families, and educators at events on campus, in schools, and throughout the northern Illinois region.

A part of NIU’s P-20 Center, STEM Outreach also organizes hundreds of hands-on activities at STEMfest each October. For more information, call (815) 753-0533 or email jjbenson@niu.edu.

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