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‘Maze Runner’ author James Dashner to visit NIU April 9

March 27, 2014

James DashnerImagine waking up in the heart of a vast maze with no memory except your name. Every day, you have to run the maze, searching for a way out. Every night, the maze fills with robotic monsters and its walls change positions.

That’s the chilling premise of James Dashner’s best-selling young adult novel “The Maze Runner.”

From 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Wednesday, April 9, the NIU community is invited to meet Dashner during a casual breakfast and book signing at NIU’s Founders Memorial Library Staff Lounge (Lower Level). His books will be available for purchase.

At 1 p.m., the author will visit NIU’s Altgeld Hall auditorium to discuss his dystopian “Maze Runner” series, the upcoming film adaptation and his career as an author.

The event is free and open to the public.

Public seating is limited to the auditorium balcony, which can be accessed from Altgeld’s third floor. Main floor seating will be occupied by high school students on campus for hands-on activities related to “The Maze Runner.”

Dashner’s talk is presented by NIU STEM Read with support from Follett, Random House, Friends of the NIU Libraries and NIU Undergraduate Admissions. STEM Read, located in NIU’s Center for P-20 Engagement, uses popular fiction books as a gateway to help young readers explore the science behind the fiction.

The program hosts live events throughout the year and creates free online videos with STEM experts, games, collaborative writing prompts, art activities and lesson plans that align with Illinois state learning standards.

To build on young readers’ enthusiasm for “The Maze Runner,” STEM Read has also invited 220 high school students from around the region to participate in a live action game based on the book.

Book cover of “The Maze Runner”Throughout the day, the students will take part in creative problem-solving activities with NIU experts in psychology, engineering technology, kinesiology and cryptography, all factors in solving the maze. STEM Read plans to post the game and related videos to its website shortly after the event.

Dashner also will be the keynote speaker April 9 at “Next Generation Science with Cross-Curricular Teaching,” a professional development dinner for K-12 educators at Follett Publishing (1340 Ridgeview Drive in McHenry, Ill.). During the event, educators will discuss cross-curricular lesson planning and 21st century critical thinking skills.

Gillian King-Cargile, NIU’s STEM Read coordinator, will participate in this event to discuss using science fiction to stimulate curiosity and motivate reading and writing in young learners. This event is free, but registration is required.

Learn more about STEM Read and find out how to register for the professional development event at For more information, call (815) 753-6784 or email [email protected].