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Annual STEM Fest showcases NIU campus, faculty research and student talent

October 18, 2021

STEM Fest is back in person on Oct. 23, with interactive learning fun for all ages.

NIU STEM Fest started more than a decade ago as a festival to celebrate innovations in science, technology, engineering and math. The free annual event has now become a family tradition that welcomes visitors of all ages to hear talks from experts, view spectacular science demo shows and engage in over one hundred different interactive learning activities.


The NIU STEM Fest team is thrilled to bring the event back in person – now at a new location in the center of NIU’s DeKalb campus. STEM Fest will take place Saturday, Oct. 23, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. inside and out in the NIU Holmes Student Center, Founders Memorial Library, MLK Commons and Swen Parson Hall. STEM Fest is free and open to the public and is a wonderful way for community members to meet NIU faculty, staff and students and experience the excitement of a lively university campus.

NIU student volunteers help to inspire young people to pursue STEM fields. (Photo from 2019.)

“I’m excited that we’re coming back in person, and that our new location gives people of all ages a chance to discover more of NIU’s campus,” says Kristin Brynteson, director of NIU STEAM, which organizes STEM Fest. “Because of the variety of venues, we’re trying some new formats and activities, including a workshop in our STEAM Studio in Swen Parson Hall, big stage productions in the Holmes Student Center auditorium, and an exploration of entrepreneurship and innovation in the Founders Memorial Library innovation space.”

Visitors will also have the chance to explore campus on a tour and with the new Huskie Go app – a scavenger hunt game that uses augmented reality technology to help players learn about NIU’s rich 125-year history.

The activities provided by NIU departments and student groups help to bring STEM Fest alive each year.

Visitors can explore high efficiency vehicles designed by the NIU Supermileage Team and ask the student designers about their gas and battery-electric prototype vehicles. They can hear a concert by the NIU Steelband and then try out the steelpan instruments as they learn about vibration, pitch and the science of sound. Guests young and old can test their hand at chess with the NIU Chess Club, try out video gaming with the NIU Esports Club or witness a weather balloon launch with real-time data from the Department of Geographic and Atmospheric Sciences.

“Our goal is for community members to find their spark of inspiration and for teens and young people, in particular, to be inspired to pursue STEM fields,” says Brynteson. “We hope that seeing our fabulous NIU student volunteers in action motivates visitors to imagine themselves as future scientists, engineers, mathematicians or designers.”

Students, alumni and educators can still sign up to volunteer at STEM Fest. Find more details on the STEM Fest volunteer website.

STEM Fest is a program of NIU STEAM, in the NIU Division of Outreach, Engagement and Regional Development.

STEM Fest 2021 is brought to you by Facebook. Thanks also to our other sponsors: Thermo Fisher Scientific, Bayer Fund, 3M, ComEd, IDEAL INDUSTRIES, INC., and Nicor Gas. And thanks to our additional supporters: Mortenson, Enel Green Power, FNBO and Shure Incorporated.

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This year at STEM Fest, NIU student groups will welcome visitors to the MLK Commons, Holmes Student Center, Founders Memorial Library and Swen Parson Hall.