STEM fest needs student volunteers

By Brian Guttman

STEM Fest volunteers will get their pick of prizes, but only if they register before Tuesday.

STEM Fest is Oct. 19. Students can register to volunteer online at, and those who do will receive a STEM shirt and water bottle. All students who register before Tuesday will be able to reserve a shirt, otherwise they may have to settle for another size.

“We want people who enjoy working with others and helping out,” said STEM Outreach Director Pati Sievert.

For three years, STEM Fest has gathered people to explore the world of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The benefits of volunteering go beyond the freebies.

“It’s just a good opportunity, especially for the education majors to really get out and interact with the kids,” said Jeremy Benson, STEM outreach and engagement associate.

This year, volunteers will be required to wear a name tag showing their hometown and major to encourage connections between the families and the students. The name tags are meant to help parents find volunteers from their area who may be better suited to advise their children about a career in the STEM field.

“I think that they’re [student volunteers] sort of an ambassador for the university,” said Judith Dymond, STEM outreach and engagement associate. “I think that helps people that are coming through, young people, maybe high school people, that see those students, and they seem to be engaged and having fun, they [younger participants] might think of those careers for themselves.”

The emphasis on connection between the children and the student volunteers is one reason why 92 percent of families surveyed last year said they wanted to return.

“Parents are always very impressed with the NIU student volunteers, and I like that, it’s nice,” Sievert said. “We have great students here and it’s great to have people appreciate that.”

Student volunteers get their choice of where they would like to work, but they may get assigned somewhere else depending on if there are any shortages.

“It’s a fun and rewarding experience for anyone that volunteers, and it’s the place to be on Oct. 19,” Dymond said.