Second annual STEMfest educates children of all ages on maths and sciences

Caitlin Giles, STEMfest volunteer and sophomore mechanical engineering major, said the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics festival held Saturday is important for children.

“I think it’s important to teach little kids about math and science,” she said. “Once you understand them, you can kind of understand the world.”

NIU hosted the second annual STEMFest at the Convo Center Saturday.

Some of the organizations not affiliated with NIU that exhibited this year were: Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois, the Morton Arboretum, Burpee Museum of Natural History, Cave of the Mounds, Illinois Council on Economic Education, Lights for Learning, Energy Systems Group and the DeKalb Libraries.

Jon Carnahan, chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, said the event was successful.

“It’s good to educate young people about science,” he said. “And in addition, the participants are having a lot of fun. [Event coordinator] Pati Sievert has done an incredible job.”

One organization that people may not have expected to see was the NIU Center for Latino & Latin American Studies, whose booth featured an “archaeological dig,” DNA examples of strawberries and origami. The center’s reason for exhibiting, said Sandy Lopez, assistant to the director of CLLAS, was to show Latino and Latina students “that they can be engaged in science.” They need to know that “anyone can do this,” she said.

The students who came ranged from elementary school to high school ages. Bianca Fant, from West Elementary, said she hopes to use science in her future career as a veterinarian by “testing and using different things to help animals get better.”

Madison Cooper, a student from Clinton-Rosette Middle School said that she expects to use science in her future. “I want to be a phlebotomist and work at Kishwaukee Community Hospital.” She said.

Amanda Spitalli, a student at Naperville Central High School said her favorite exhibit was the local K-9 unit as it was “nice meeting someone [who trains animals] for a living.”

Paul Spitalli, also a student at Naperville Central High School, said his favorite exhibit was the Robot Arena.