What is STEM?

STEM is a way of learning that integrates Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics together into real-world applications and experiences. STEM education rarely offers an explicit solution to a problem. Instead, students use what they know to determine the best possible solution.

What is STEM Fest?

STEM Fest is a celebration of all things science, technology, engineering, art and math. It began in October 2010 as a way to bring together NIU and community partners to provide young people and their families the opportunity to engage in hands-on activities as they explore STEM fields and careers. In 2019, more than 7,000 visitors attended NIU’s STEM Fest, experiencing activities such as the Haunted Physics Lab, a weather balloon launch, block building, cow eye dissections and more!

When is STEM Fest?

STEM Fest occurs on a Saturday in October. STEM Fest 2021 will take place on Saturday, Oct. 23 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. STEM Fest is an expo, an open-house style event. Come and go at any time. Most families report spending at least three hours at STEM Fest!

Where is STEM Fest held?

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

Is there a cost to attend STEM Fest?

Thanks to many generous sponsors and volunteers, STEM Fest is free to attend! No advance registration is required of participants. Attendees may want to bring money for lunch or snacks, or pack food and dine in one of the many public lounges at the Holmes Student Center and Library.

What are STEM Fest planners doing to help keep participants safe?

  1. All visitors are required to follow NIU’s health and safety policy. Visit our Protecting the Pack website for details.
  2. Moving to the center of campus allows us to have activities outside in MLK and spread out across three of our largest indoor spaces – HSC, FML, and Swen Parson. Questions regarding indoor ventilation will have to be sent to the building.
  3. A reduction in total booths means more than 6 feet between vendors.
  4. QR code maps will eliminate holding onto papers all day
  5. Exhibitors can request to be outside – contact by October 1st.
  6. Vendors are asked to sanitize their stations regularly.
  7. Sanitizer stations will be available across all venues.
  8. Masks will be available at various stations across the event and NIU signage will require masks indoors.
  9. DeKalb County Health Department will be having a vaccine clinic on-site.

Can I bring a group to STEM Fest?

Yes! Groups of all sizes and ages are welcome to join us. To help us plan for your group, we appreciate your advance notice by registering your group here.  We ask that groups plan to bring one chaperone for every five elementary school students, six middle school students or 10 high school students. Scouts and youth groups have the ability to earn a patch! Learn more.

Can STEM Fest accommodate guests with disabilities?

Yes! STEM Fest is ADA compliant. Please contact Judith Dymond at or 815-753-4751 with any special requests.

How can I support STEM Fest?

Sponsorships and donations help NIU STEAM keep the magic going!

You can also support STEM Fest by volunteering a few hours of your time. Volunteers are needed to help with greeting, directing and engaging guests in hands on activities such as programing robots, building with blocks, experiencing virtual reality technology, and more! 

Where can I get information on becoming an exhibitor at STEM Fest?

Each year, STEM Fest hosts more than 100 exhibitors. Learn more about ways you can become an exhibitor.

How can I learn more about NIU STEAM programs and events?

The best way to learn about future STEM programs is to sign up for our e-newsletter. Visit our NIU STEAM website to learn more about ways you can bring our programs to your school, group outing or event. And plan to attend a STEM summer camp!