NIU hosts first STEMfest

By Ryan Griesmeyer

NIU will be hosting its first STEMfest from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Saturday at the Convocation center. There is a estimate of 2,000-5,000 people planning to attend the event.

STEM stands for Science Technology Engineering and Math.

“We are having this event to encourage more students to understand how STEM plays a role in their lives and consider a STEM career,” said STEM Outreach Coordinator Pati Sievert.

The STEMfest is geared towards children from kindergarten to college with activities for them to enjoy.

Sievert said there will be a lot of hands on science activities such as a haunted physics lab, new hands on laser displays for high school students, technology playground that will include music and animation, dissecting cows eyes, a group called Destination Imagination who are bringing competitions such as building bridges and towers out of spaghetti and gum drops.

Along with that, there will be books and speakers such as Scott Williams from the Burpee Museum of Natural History in Rockford, Ill.

“We want to get kids excited about technology and for the public to see how important it is to get the next generation excited about them and want to pursue them as a career,” Sievert said.

Jeremy Benson, post graduate and communications and physics major, said that he has a lot of fun doing it because he has always been interested and science and hopes to make other people excited about it too.

“Honestly, I think we work really hard to make this fun and interesting,” Benson said. “I think it’s really great to get the kids excited. The truth is, [science and math] is all around you; you just need to realize it.”

The cost for the festival to happen is between $25,00 and $30,000. Money is coming from some corporate sponsorship, TCF bank, ABBOTT labs, Dekalb county Community Foundation, Midwest Girls Collaborative Project, Engineering and Technology Alumni Society, National Electrical Contractors Association and several smaller donations from businesses and STEM outreach budget.

“There are about 150 volunteers that the office manages and overall there should be close to 250 volunteers,” Sievert said. “Several departments have booths along with student organizations.”

STEMfest costs $5 for parking and admissions are free. Donations will be accepted during the event and the money will go towards the cover for the event.