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Free STEM Read Mini Conference brings together writers and scientists

July 1, 2019

This summer, NIU STEM Read is partnering with the NIU Libraries and the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators to host the first of a series of events exploring “future telling,” how storytellers and scientists engage in dialogue and use their ingenuity to imagine new possibilities and innovations.

Kate Hannigan

The science + fiction mini-conference will feature experts in writing and STEM, including authors Kate Hannigan (“The Detective’s Assistant,” “The Cape”) and Lex Thomas (The “Quarantine” Series), NIU economist Tammy Batson and researchers from Argonne National Laboratory.

This free event will take place on Saturday, July 27, from 1:30 to 4 p.m. at Open Books (West Loop), 651 W. Lake Street in Chicago.

The conference will explore current research on everything from economics to disaster management to codes and ciphers and will offer insights into writing books and stories that incorporate science, technology, engineering and math. This event is geared toward authors, prospective authors and other adults interested in writing and STEM. Educators and librarians are also welcome to attend, and professional development hours are available.

The event will include a panel discussion, small group ask-me-anything sessions with the authors and experts, and Ignite Talks presented by interns engaged in research at Argonne National Laboratory.

Gillian King-Gargile

Gillian King-Cargile, NIU STEM Read director, is excited about the chance to bring writers and scientists into dialogue.

In a recent interview with Hannigan, King-Cargile said, “As a writer, I love talking with scientists because my brain starts buzzing with endless questions, crazy possibilities and imagined applications of their work. I also love seeing how STEM experts engage in their own version of storytelling to test hypotheses, create new products and improve our world.”

She continues, “But there are fewer opportunities for aspiring and even established writers to interact with subject matter experts, to hear a wide variety of new ideas in science and research. I want to give other storytellers the opportunity to gaze into the future, imagine the possible and create the books that will inspire young learners, dreamers and innovators.”

This event is free and open to the public, but space is limited. Attendees should RSVP at Participants are also encouraged to bring a gently used book to donate to Open Books to support their community arts and literacy programs.

To learn more about NIU STEM Read, visit or contact Gillian King-Cargile at [email protected]. ‘