NIU STEM Read is known for mind-blowing field trips that use games to bring to life the STEM concepts behind popular fiction books. In a normal year, each field trip would gather 400 to 1,000 students in a ballroom, gym or even the convocation center to design costumes, practice their suturing skills on banana peels, build improvised shelters out of items on hand or immerse themselves in other creative hands-on challenges.
Similarly, NIU STEAM Summer Camps typically welcome hundreds of young people to campus to experience a week of college life, build community, tour the NIU labs and facilities, and perform hands-on experiments and builds.
We all know the past year has been anything but normal, so the NIU STEAM team faced the challenge that defined so much of 2020: How could they bring their interactive, hands-on camps and field trips online to create an immersive virtual learning experience that stayed true to the NIU STEAM vision?
Well, with a little ingenuity and a lot of hard work, our STEAM educators have created online learning experiences that prioritize: 1. Community and connection, 2. Hands on learning, and 3. Freedom for students to pursue their own interests and follow their curiosity.