STEM Fest 2021

Saturday, October 23 from 10 A.M. to 4 P.M.

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All visitors to STEM Fest are required to follow NIU’s health and safety policy. Check out our FAQs for more details and visit NIU’s Protecting the Pack website for details.

What is STEM Fest?

STEM Fest is a FREE in-person event every October that celebrates science, technology, engineering and math with hands-on activities, exhibits and talks.

STEM Fest is held in the heart of NIU’s DeKalb central campus in the Holmes Student Center, MLK Commons and Founders Memorial Library.

Parking is available for free in any lot on campus on the day of STEM Fest.  (Do not park in any space marked “Reserved.”) A parking map is available here.

Register your bus group to make arrangements and help you plan for a great day! Buses should drop off participants at the East Entrance of the Holmes Student Center.

Scouts and Youth Groups can earn patches. This year’s learners will have the opportunity to earn our Find Your Spark patch, the Passport to My Future patch, as well as multiple mini patches. If this isn’t your first time at STEM Fest, you can even grab a corresponding year patch and show off your frequent flyer status. Sign-up your scouts or youth group for easy check-in at STEM Fest. Email Hollie Rodriguez at with any questions.

Request disability-related accommodations by contacting Judith Dymond at or 815-753-4751. Advance notice is appreciated.

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STEM Fest Demonstrations and Activities

Celebration Stage

Location: Sandburg Auditorium, Holmes Student Center

10:30 a.m. – NIU STEAM Demo Show

11:30 a.m. – Artemis: NASA’s Mission to the Moon and on to Mars! Presenter: LaTina Taylor, NASA EPDC Specialist

1:30 p.m. – NIU Chemistry Club Demo Show

2:30 p.m. – NIU Steelband Ensemble

3:30 p.m. – NIU STEAM Demo Show

Students at a computer station

Curiosity Stage

Location: Founders Memorial Library, First Floor

11 a.m. – Illinois Waterways and Great Lakes: Invasive Species and Management Strategies. Presenters: Vic Santucci, Lake Michigan program manager, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and Nathan Lederman, Aquatic Nuisance Species Program natural resources specialist, Illinois Department of Natural Resources

Noon – Archiving Dime Novels. Presenter: Sata Prescott, project manager for digitization of dime novels, a distinctive collection of 19th century popular fiction, NIU Founders Memorial Library

1 p.m. – The NASA Perseverance Mission: A Precursor to Human Landing on Mars. Presenter: James “Joel” Knapper, NASA Solar System Ambassador for the past 12 years

2 p.m. – The Physics of Football. Speaker: Mike Eads, Associate Professor, NIU Department of Physics

3 p.m. – Exercise Your Brain: How Aerobics and Strength Training Improve Brain Function. Speakers: David Benner, Jr., gerontology instructor, NIU Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education, and Jamie Mayer, Ph.D., speech pathologist and associate professor, NIU School of Allied Health and Communicative Disorders

Booths and Interactive Exhibits

More exhibits are being planned every day! Here are a few examples of the interactive exhibits we’re looking forward to this year.

Sweet Butts Cotton Candy

See cotton candy being made within a clear bubble.

The Rubber Band Project

Learn about how rockets fly through the atmosphere by making and launching a paper rocket.

NIU Center for Southeast Asian Studies

Learn about water filtration with this interactive exhibit.

National Stuttering Association DeKalb

Get a finger trap, and learn how it can feel for a person who stutters to have a block, the feeling of the voice catching in the throat.

NIU Supermileage

Check out the supermileage vehicles on display and interactive pieces for all ages.

Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science

Simulate a random walk using a Galton board (also known as a quincunx), where plastic balls drop on a peg board. 

Discovery Center Museum

Play with vertical wind columns, for an open-ended, creative engineering activity.

Make ‘n Take: 
T-Shirt Tote Bags

Don’t throw away that old t-shirt. Keep it out of the landfill by upcycling it into something new. For this activity, we will supply the t-shirt and easy to follow instructions.  It takes about 15 minutes.  Use it to carry your goodies after attending other workshops like Build-a-Blinkie.

You will also learn about upcycling and the environmental impact of t-shirts.

Haunted Lab

Experience spooky science Learn about light, forces, waves, electricity and more with spooky interactive exhibits

Medical Lab Sciences: Learn about good hand hygiene by playing catch-a-germ.


Test your ability to combine oil with water. Can you get them to mix? It’s not as easy as it sounds.

Sit-Treat-Eat Repeat: Take and post a selfie (#NIUSTEMFEST) with our NIU mascot, Mission!

Drone Zone

Try your skills at flying a drone and see why it’s quickly becoming a favorite hobby for so many!

BLOCK Fest:Big blocks, small blocks, wood and foam – it’s never too early to begin learning about gravity, balance, geometry and more, while having fun building with blocks.

Up-close Animal Experience

Come meet the playful, big personality bunnies and loud, social ducks. Visit with and learn about these animals and more.

71 North Innovation Partnership Studio

Visit the lower level of the Founders Memorial Library to show off your innovation skills as you design, test your airplane’s flight range, and refine your finest paper airplane! Then, create a video pitch on why your design is the best!

At 12:30, don’t forget to head to the MLK Commons to watch a weather balloon launch and learn about the process meteorologists use to collect data about atmospheric weather conditions.


DeKalb FFA
Discovery Center Museum
Enel Green Power
Forest Preserve District of DuPage County
Green Paws Environmental Alliance
Illinois Destination Imagination
Kishwaukee College
NASA Educator Professional Development Collaborative
National Stuttering Association DeKalb
Nicor Gas
NIU American Meteorological Society
NIU Anthropology Club
NIU Audiology
NIU Autism Caregiver Group
NIU Center for Economic Education
NIU Center for Southeast Asian Studies

NIU Chemistry Club
NIU Chess Club
NIU College Democrats
NIU Communicative Disorders Student Association
NIU Data, Devices and Interaction Laboratory (ddiLab)
NIU Department of Anthropology
NIU Department of Biological Sciences
NIU Department of Computer Science
NIU Department of Geology and Environmental Giosciences
NIU Department of Mathematical Sciences
NIU Department of Mechanical Engineering
NIU Department of Mechanical Engineering
NIU Department of Physics
NIU Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science
NIU Esports
NIU Esports Club
NIU Formula SAE Team
NIU Inclusive Birding Club
NIU Institute for the Study of Environment, Sustainability and Energy

NIU Mars Rover Team
NIU Medical Laboratory Sciences
NIU Music and Memory
NIU National Society of Black Engineers
NIU Percussion Club
NIU School of Art and Design
NIU Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers
NIU Student Dietetic Association
NIU Student Nurses’ Organization
NIU Supermileage Team
Northern Public Radio
OLT Marketing (T-shirt Sales)
Shure Incorporated
Sit – Treat – Eat – Repeat
STEM Fest Information Booth
Sweet Butts Cotton Candy
The Rubber Band Project
Thermo Fisher Scientific
University of Illinois Chicago College of Pharmacy

Volunteer at STEM Fest! 

We need your help to make STEM Fest a success. If you’re a student, alum or community member, sign up now.

Become a STEM Fest Sponsor

You can be a STEM Fest Supporter! Your generous sponsorship reaches thousands of students, children and adults and helps make this annual event possible. As a sponsor, your name and logo will be featured on digital content including the STEM Fest website and STEM Fest social media. We look forward to talking with you soon about sponsorship of STEM Fest. Please contact NIU STEAM director of development, Judith Dymond, Ed.D. at at your convenience and let’s get started!

Campus Tours

NIU Admissions will be offering campus tours at STEM Fest at 11:00, 11:30, noon, and 12:30.  The tours will depart from the information table just outside of Ellington’s on the main floor of the HSC.

STEM Fest by the numbers

As we gear up for year 12 of STEM Fest, we’re thrilled that this flagship event has helped to inspire so many people over the years.

  • Since 2010, STEM Fest has welcomed:
    • More than 50,000 attendees.
    • Over 1,200 exhibits.
    • More than 7,000 NIU volunteers.
  • Local scouts have earned over 5,000 patches.
  • The year of highest attendance was 2019, with almost 8,000 people – and 96% said they planned to come back!
  • The year with largest social media reach was 2020 with more than 80,000 reached.

We’re grateful for the participation of our external partners – NASA, Argonne National Labs, Fermilab, Morton Arboretum and the Rockford Park District, as well as the dedication of our long-term sponsors – Ideal Industries, Thermo Fisher, Ecolab, ComEd and Nicor.

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STEM Fest is brought to you by

Facebook Logo

Thanks also to our other sponsors

Bayer Logo
3M Logo
ComEd Logo

And thanks to our additional supporters