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  • September 06, 2017 1:10 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    From the Northern Illinois University STEM Saturdays web site.

    STEM Saturday classes help students explore interesting topics through hands-on activities and exciting demonstrations. Parents are encouraged to attend students' classes and get in on the fun. This season's offerings include photography, computer programming, STEAM, introduction to Arduinos, and STEM activities for young divas.

    STEM Saturday Courses Fall 2017

    Please take a close look at the descriptions for recommended ages for each class. Some classes are two sessions.

    September 30 and October 7– Listen up!

    Meeting Times: 9:00am – 12:00pm
    Meeting Room: NIU STEM Classroom (Swen Parson 146)

    Earbuds and Beats by Dre are great, but how many of your friends can say that they’ve built their own set of speakers? During this STEM Saturday class, students learn about electromagnetism, solder electrical components, and take home their very own set of speakers and an amplifier. 

    Note - This class meets for two sessions.

    Suggested ages: 12 and up
    Price: $80
    Register here

    September 30 – STEM Divas – Product Designers

    Meeting Time: 9:00am – 1:00pm
    Meeting Room: Faraday 129

    Our world thrives on improving our technology, so join the team in innovating and designing new ideas! Divas will use the engineering design cycle to identify what makes a good product and how to improve it while exploring their creativity and passion.

    Note: This class will satisfy the requirements for Girl Scouts Juniors Product Designer badge and is open to anyone who is interested.

    Does your entire troop/pack want to participate in more of our STEM programs? Contact us to set up private programs and customized activities to earn more badges!

    Suggested ages: 7 to 12
    T-shirts are available in both adult and youth sizes for $10 each
    Class Price: $45
    Register here

    November 4 – Scout Coding Day

    Meeting Time: 9:00am – 2:00pm
    Meeting Room: Holmes Student Center, Heritage Room

    Loaded with tons of hands-on projects to help teach coding, Cubs Scouts and Girl Scouts will both be able to attend and have the chance to earn a badge. Scouts will program robots, learn how robots work, build their own robot models, and observe college students during the Hackathon coding competition!

    • Girl Scout Brownie badge: Designing Robots
    • Girl Scout Junior badge: Programming Robots
    • Cub Scout Bear badge: Robotics

    Does your entire troop/pack want to participate in more of our STEM programs? Contact us to set up private programs and customized activities to earn more badges.

    Suggested ages: 7 to 12
    Price: $65
    Register here

    November 11 – STEM Juniors – Day of STEAM

    Meeting Times: 9:00am – 12:00pm
    Meeting Room: NIU STEM Classroom (Swen Parson 146)

    Art is all around us, and now it’s in our STEM classroom! Join us for a full day of discovering how we use STEM to make art and how we use art to learn about STEM. Students will find many opportunities to use their creative side with engineering and visual art projects, including a pop-up card and a musical instrument.

    Suggested ages: 7 to 12
    Price: $35
    Register here

    November 18 – Introduction to Arduinos

    Meeting Times: 9:00am – 12:00pm
    Meeting Room: NIU STEM Classroom (Swen Parson 146)

    Learn to code like the best! Students will learn how humans communicate with computers, practice their logic skills, and use critical thinking to command a computer to complete tasks and challenges in this fun and interactive introduction to computer programming. No prior experience necessary!

    Students can use our Arduino kits for free. Families who are interested in purchasing an Arduino kit with the components used in class may visit the following link before or after this class.

    Suggested ages: 12 and up
    Price: $30
    Register here

    December 2 – Arduino Projects

    Meeting Times: 9:00am – 12:00pm
    Meeting Room: NIU STEM Classroom (Swen Parson 146)

    Expand your coding skills and make a project come alive with our intermediate level coding class. Here, students will use both physical and digital components to complete multidisciplinary tasks.

    Please note that this class requires completion of one of our previous Arduino classes.

    Suggested ages: 12 and up
    Price: $30
    Register here

    December 2 – STEM Divas – Say Cheese!

    Meeting Times: 9:00am – 1:00pm
    Meeting Room: NIU STEM Classroom (Swen Parson 146)

    Come with your selfie face and be ready to snap pictures in our STEM photography class! Students will see how cameras evolved to the tiny power machines we keep in our pockets and investigate what makes a good photo. Students build their own mini-studio and edit their photos to share with their friends and family.

    Families are encouraged to bring smartphones or tablets, but we will have some available for students to use.

    Note: This class will satisfy the requirements for Girl Scouts Juniors Digital Photographer badge and it is open to anyone who is interested.

    Does your entire troop/pack want to participate in more of our STEM programs? Contact us to set up private programs and customized activities to earn more badges.

    Suggested ages: 7 to 12
    T-shirts available in both adult and youth sizes for $10 each
    Class Price: $45
    Register here

    December 9 – Holiday Party

    Meeting Time: 9:00am – 12:00pm
    Meeting Room: NIU STEM Classroom (Swen Parson 146)

    The annual holiday party is our way of saying thanks to all of our students and their families who participated in the Fall 2017 Saturday classes! We’ll spend half of our time doing a special holiday themed demonstration show, complete with refreshments. The other half will be spent making science themed gifts with the kids while the adults get a chance to hear about some of our favorite STEMtastic gift ideas. 

    Price: $10 per family
    Register here

  • September 04, 2017 9:07 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Elaine Luther

    What do you do when your school doesn’t provide as many STEM activities as your child craves? How do you help them when you were an English major? Here are some fun and easy ideas for things you can do as a family, and add in to your already busy life without much trouble.

    Listen to Podcasts together

    Tumble Science Podcast for kids

    These are short, about 20 minutes, and the hosts discuss a real question from a kid, and then go out and interview scientists who are experts in that topic. They’re well done and hold children’s interest.

    Tumble has joined up with Listenwise.com which provides discussion questions to go with each podcast. Listenwise also has lots of other podcasts and radio stories that you can listen to right on the site.

    Find more podcasts for families at TheWondery.

    Watch SciGirls and do the Activities

    SciGirls is a show on PBS where real girls choose a question, are matched with a real adult female mentor in science or engineering, and the girls go out and use the scientific method, or the design build process, to solve the problem as a team. The shows are well done, entertaining, and show the process, the ideas tested and ruled out. In a world where fear of failure and perfectionism can be problems for kids, this show shows that failure is just part of the process.

    You can print out the images of the flow charts for the Design Build Process and the Scientific Process and when your child is building and gets frustrated, you can just remind them that the Design Build Process is a circle and we revisit each step. You can ask them, “where are you right now in the Design Build Process?”

    Watch full episodes at

    Visit SciGirls Connect

    For each episode, the SciGirls folks create a companion activity for parents and teachers to use. Many can be done in an hour and nearly all of them use items you probably already have around the house. Find all the activities at SciGirls, under resources.

    Many of these activity guides are also available in Spanish and Season 4 will be entirely in Spanish!

    They have also paired up short sections from the shows, about 5 minutes to use as an introduction to the activity. Even though the show is called SciGirls, the show and activities appeal to boys as well. And the site has role model profiles.

    You can do all of the SciGirls activities as a family, but sometimes it’s more fun with friends, especially if that deadline of friends coming over helps make it happen. You could start an informal, once a month STEM club, where each parent takes some turns facilitating the activity. Like a book club, but for STEM! Kids particularly enjoy design-build challenges, in my experience, where they are given materials, constraints and a challenge and told to go for it.

    The most important job as the activity facilitator, is to control the urge to help too much, and say too much. We as parents have to learn to hold our tongues, sit on our hands, and let them figure it out. Ask the kids questions instead of giving answers.

    Sci Girls 7

    One of the amazing contributions the folks at SciGirls have made is to gather the relevant research on how to get girls involved in STEM. Here they are.

    Girls benefit from collaboration, especially when they can participate and communicate fairly. (Parker & Rennie, 2002; Scantlebury & Baker, 2007; Werner & Denner, 2009)

    Girls are motivated by projects they find personally relevant and meaningful. (Liston, Peterson, & Ragan, 2008; Lyon & Jafri, 2010; Mosatche, Matloff-Nieves, Kekelis, & Lawner, 2013; Patrick, Mantzicopoulos, & Samarapungavan, 2009; Thompson & Windschitl, 2005)

    Girls enjoy hands-on, open-ended projects and investigations. (Chatman et al., 2008; Denner & Werner, 2007)

    Girls are motivated when they can approach projects in their own way, applying their creativity, unique talents, and preferred learning styles. (Calabrese Barton et al., 2013; Calabrese Barton, Tan, & Rivet, 2008; Eisenhart & Finkel, 1998; Lyon & Jafri, 2010)

    Girls’ confidence and performance improves in response to specific, positive feedback on things they can control—such as effort, strategies, and behaviors. (Blackwell, Trzesniewski, & Dweck, 2007; Dweck, 2000; Halpern et al., 2007; Kim et al., 2007; Mueller & Dweck, 1998)

    Girls gain confidence and trust in their own reasoning when encouraged to think critically. (Chatman et al., 2008; Eisenhart & Finkel, 1998; Kim et al., 2007)

    Girls benefit from relationships with role models and mentors. (Holmes, Redmond, Thomas & High, 2012; Liston, Peterson & Ragan, 2008; Lyon & Jafri, 2010; Mostache et al., 2013; Weber, 2011)


    Another great source for design/build challenges is the TV show Zoom. Zoom even has activities for preschoolers. is the website of author and build Lance Akiyama, who wrote Rubber Band Engineer, a terrific book that uses tongue depressors and paint stir sticks to make pretty cool things that really work. He has links on his site for where to buy just a few extras such as wheels and propellors, that are inexpensive, but really help raise the cool level of each project.

    Encourage Building

    Goldie Blox is a toy designed to encourage engineering thinking in girls, and while you may not like that the toys are pink, the story books that accompany each building kit engage girls and draw them in. Girls can build each project as instructed, and then there are variations and they can build their own creations too.

    A large collection of Lego and quality wood unit blocks, such as from Melissa and Doug, are a good addition to any home. These investment toys last for years. Magnatiles are another wonderful building toy, and my favorite, because they are magnetic, they are actually fun for kids to clean up. And Keva Planks, or Kapla blocks, allow for advanced building and all of these toys can hold the interest of children older than you might think.

    These are all quality “toys” that can be passed from sibling to sibling, or kept handy for visiting children.

    To make building really fun, it’s important to buy enough of each type of building toy so that kids can really make cool stuff! It’s frustrating when you want to build a whole town of Lego but you can only build a house and a half.

    Three Citizen Science Projects Your Family Can Participate In

    What microbes are in your shower head?

    Listen to the Tumble episode that explains it:…

    Lincoln Park Zoo is watching animals in our urban environment and you can help! Learn more here:

    Find more citizen science opportunities here:

    SciGirls has some episodes on citizen science, find some of them here, including the one about monitoring frog populations:

    Find the pdf activity guide “SciGirls Participate! Citizen Science Adventures” here:

    The last pages of the pdf lists kid-friendly citizen science projects and even three apps to help you be involved. And you’ll also find a printable nature journal there.

    Attend a STEM FEST or Maker Faire

    In the Greater Chicago area, there are many Maker Fairs and Northern Illinois University has a STEM FEST each October. This year’s STEM FEST will be October 21st.

    Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana also usually has a Stem Fest each spring, theirs is called STEMapalooza.

    You can find the Maker Faires here

  • August 29, 2017 10:54 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Fall Science Adventures classes are open for registration on the Fermilab website:
    Register for many favorite classes, such as:

    October 14, 2017 – Nature’s Energy for grades 5–8
    October 21, 2017 – Spiders, Spinners of Silk for grades K–2
    November 4, 2017 – What Makes You So Special? for grades 3–5
    November 11, 2017 – Playing with Your Food for grades 1–3
    December 9, 2017 – CSI: Careful Scientific Investigations for grades 3–5
    For teachers, parent volunteers and library staff

    October 4, 2017 – STEM Family Night Planning Workshop for grades K–8
    Gain knowledge about many free resources to help you plan your own school or library Family STEM Night. Become qualified to borrow the Fermilab Hands-on Science equipment. 

  • July 20, 2017 10:22 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    From the NASA Education Express Message -- July 20, 2017 email newsletter (sign up at . . .

    “Houston, We Have a Podcast” is a new weekly audio show from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. The podcast, hosted by Gary Jordan as he talks with various guests, is designed to highlight a variety of topics covering the work of Johnson, NASA’s “home of human spaceflight.”

    In the first episode, released on July 7, 2017, NASA public affairs officer Dan Huot provides a high-level overview of the International Space Station: what it is, how it works, and why it’s there. New episodes will be released each Friday; upcoming topics include space food, human research in space, mission control and communications. Personal stories of human spaceflight, from living on the space station to understanding what it may be like to walk on Mars, will come from the Astronaut Candidates of 2017, International Space Station astronauts, and scientists and engineers from around the center.

    Timed at an average of 45 to 50 minutes, episodes of “Houston, We Have a Podcast” will be released on iTunes, SoundCloud and Questions may be asked using the hashtags #askNASA and #HWHAP on various NASA accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

    A live podcast episode from space with astronaut Jack Fischer is planned Aug. 10, 2017, on NASA TV, Facebook, YouTube, UStream and other platforms. Live audience viewers will be able to ask questions via Facebook and YouTube. The recorded podcast episode will be released Friday of the following week.

    To download episodes of “Houston, We Have a Podcast,” visit .

    Episodes also may be found on SoundCloud at

    Episodes of the podcast will soon be available on iTunes and other platforms.

    Please direct questions about this podcast series to Gary Jordan at

  • July 15, 2017 6:40 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Kids can’t do that!  There’s something kids hear all too often, but citizen science is something they CAN do!

    According to SciStarters, a matching site for volunteers and scientific research, "A citizen scientist is an individual who voluntarily contributes his or her time, effort, and resources toward scientific research in collaboration with professional scientists or alone. These individuals don’t necessarily have a formal science background.”

    Here’s a project you can do at home just by collecting microbes from your showered and mailing them to a scientists:

    Hear an interview with the scientist behind this project, on Tumble, a science podcast for kids!

    That’s where I heard about it first and it’s a terrific show!  Find it on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

    Want more citizen science?  The SciStarter website has a terrific search function to help you find an experiment to be a part of, and you can filter your search by age group.

    I found out about SciStarter from SciGirls, a PBS show where you can see see real tween and teen girls doing citizen science and download activity guides .

    Heres the SciGrils website for parents:

    and the site for kids: where you can watch episodes, play games or find activities.  

    Want to get your hands dirty right away?  Check out our program Curiosity Hacked, which will be focusing on building supportive habitats for native species and citizen science this year.  We have a two Meet & Greet events: August 3 and August 12. Registration for the 2017-2018 academic year will take place at the end of summer.

  • July 02, 2017 9:11 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    A Message from the Midwest Torrance Center For Creativity

    Students are cordially invited to participate in the International Torrance Creativity Awards for 2017 in the four areas, creative writing, visual arts, music composition, and inventions.  The competition is for students ages 8-18, and the deadline for submissions is August 21.  Please see our flyer for more information (click here).

    The competition is judged by outstanding individuals who are experts in their areas.  The judges in past years have commented on the exceptional qualities of submissions, such as the beauty, creativity, originality, and imagination.  We warmly encourage students to participate in as many areas as they like.

    We keenly look forward to having you consider the possibility of submitting or encouraging a child to submit.  It is a privilege to receive material of such creativity and originality.  If you would like to see last year's magazine, it is available on our website (click here).

    Very sincerely,

    Joan Franklin Smutny, Director

    International Torrance Creativity Awards

    The Center for Gifted / Midwest Torrance Center for Creativity

  • June 22, 2017 4:14 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    International Museum of Surgical Science


    Summer STEM Sessions

    The Human Body and Space

    Sponsored in part by NASA

    Tuesday & Wednesday, July 25th and 26th

    Tuesday & Wednesday, August 1st and 2nd

    8:30am - 12:00pm Daily


    5th, 6th & 7th Grade Students


    $10 per session or $30 for all four sessions


    Find the application and more information here!

    *Space is limited to the first 20 applicants per session

  • June 10, 2017 3:24 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    SENG (Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted) holds an annual conference every summer somewhere in the US.  This year the conference will be in Illinois!  They will be in Naperville at the Marriott Hotel from August 3 - 6, 2017! For more details, see their web page:  SENG Conference.

    Are you interested in helping SENG by volunteering at this summer's annual conference? 

    There are two separate opportunities. 


    SENG is looking for about 20 people to work as Speaker Ambassadors for one day and in exchange is offering a reduced attendance fee for the conference.  To learn more about this opportunity, see this SENG Volunteer letter. If you are interested, please complete this Agreement Form, attach it to an email and send to me at 


    SENG is looking for a few volunteers to assist with their Children's Program. In exchange, the volunteer may enroll his or her children in the program at no cost and will receive a museum pass for the Field Museum. Learn more about the Children's Program. If you are interested, please respond to this email and I will provide you with more details. Please note that Children's Program volunteers will need to be vetted through the Illinois State Police.  

    Please respond promptly in order to take advantage of these opportunities!  I look forward to seeing you all there!  

  • May 29, 2017 10:18 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    $15 Student tickets are available on select Chicago Symphony Orchestra, SCP Piano, MusicNOW series concerts and more. Purchase tickets in advance online! Students may also purchase walk-up tickets for $20 at the Box Office on concert days.

    There is a $5 handling fee per ticket. A valid Student ID is required for each ticket purchase.


    Upcoming concerts with Student Ticket availability:

    See CSO web site for complete details.

  • May 16, 2017 12:37 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    From IMSA Email:

    Time is running out to register for IMSA Summer programs! We have a great line-up of fun and engaging STEM programs---don't miss out!

    Registration closes May 31! 

    Click here for our full line-up!

    There is space in the following programs:

    Grades 3-4

    Chemapalooza (6/19 - 6/23)

    STEMvironment (7/17 - 7/21)

    Grades 5-6

    MYTHconeptions (7/24 - 7/28)

    Grades 7-8

    MicroSTEM (7/10 - 7/14)

    MicroSTEM (7/17 - 7/21)

    Grades 8-9 (Residential)

    Extreme Math & Science @ IMSA -

    GIRLS ONLY - (6/25 - 6/30)

    Due to our registration platform, some of these programs may indicate there is a waitlist (even though there are spots available). 

    We will contact you via email on a first-come-first-serve basis to process your full registration.

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