Hi Everyone! I went to the NIU STEMfest 2017 at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, IL. It was a beautiful warm autumn day at 77 degrees in October. A great day to get out and about!!
Yes, I even took a photo of where I parked as I get lost easily and can be aimlessly wandering parking areas. Of course, I could have pinned it too. But, I was feeling shutter bug happy!
As I entered the main area, a couple of friendly volunteers greeted me while providing me with a map. Which I really need to get around anywhere, lol. After viewing the map for a bit and looking around for some signs I didn’t see, although I am sure they were there, I decided to just slightly wing it. So, with map in hand as if I knew what I was doing, I went along from booth to booth.
One of the first displays, The Geology and Environmental Geosciences, caught my eyes as there they had a massive dinosaur looking footprint. They, also, had varied fossil and quartz rocks. I love geology as this area of science works with gorgeous gems. How can a gal pass up checking out quartz and dinosaur fossils? On a serious note, it is truly amazing how long it takes Earth to form the gemstones along with the strength of gemstones.
Next, one of the first signs to catch my attention was an earthquake monitor system due to my thoughts on the recent Mexico City earthquake. However, I was informed that the display I was viewing near this sign was not actually the earthquake detector, but rather a device that tracks underwater activity. In particular, scientists are interested in the temperature of water near Antarctica along with the stability and life of the area. I responded that it could possibly relate to earthquakes as many earthquakes form and happen underwater as well (just a thought). To learn more visit the link below.
Next, I stopped by to check out the rocket booth of a former colleague, Bob. Bob is passionate about rockets and NASA. Since, I had the pleasure of visiting NASA in Houston and being up close to the Saturn S and trying on a spacesuit through a reflection, I couldn’t pass up reconnecting with the rocket man!
He showed the crowd how rockets can be made – even using everyday household items and take out food containers. A great way to recycle!
Check out a clever way to turn an old Halloween candy dish into a rocket!!
Pfft, no need to store that bowl until next year’s holiday…
Or, an average shampoo bottle to make a Martian!
His true pride and joy though is the red rocket he and his daughter made together. It is now signed by varied NASA folks. How cool is that?!
Do you love looking at the stars? Do you wonder about space? Check out @NASAspinoff!!
Also, do you love space and you are looking for a fun weekend out? Then, checkout the NASA / JPL Solar System Ambassador program. The web address is below at the end of this show!
The Argonne table had some neat hologram post cards with nanospheres and a human protein crystal. The card states that the nanospheres study may help us one day learn how to better store nuclear waste. This is good for many places including Illinois as there are several operating nuclear plants that provide power for the area.
The human protein crystal displayed on another card is one that causes cystic fibrosis. The study of this protein can one day help doctors ease the pain and suffering that patients experience with this disease. If you study science, you too can be an everyday super hero! Also, Argonne has free workshops called CodeGirls Camp and High School Coding Camp where girls and young women can learn to code. Visit the link below to learn more!
A really fun display was the AR Sandbox – no, this does not stand for accounts receivable or Arkansas. The AR of the AR sandbox stands for augmented reality. Yes, I put my hands in the sandbox! While I enjoyed a nice exfoliation, the young woman working the display explained that I was learning about elevation changes and water systems. As I moved the sand to create low elevation areas, I brought up my hand as though sprinkling water to make rain that filled the low laying areas with water. This would be a really cool tool for a classroom I bet! Or, fun at home as well.
Another fun interactive I encountered appeared to be teaching about shapes (and projectile speeds). It definitely could have been used as a geography lesson if the boxes were stacked up differently as well. It was great to see Texas, Mexico, and Canada included at the fest! Can you find them in the photo? Can you tell us where they should be located in relation to each other? Feel free to leave your comments!
Next up was NIU STEAM City. #NIUSTEAMCITY I really loved that STEM included the Arts! Art is an important part of science. Thanks to many artists, students from K-12 to colleges and universities can visualize concepts by seeing them in textbook illustrations or classroom models. In fact, do you remember the posters you saw in your classes? Or, the posters and brochures at your last doctor or dentist visit? That was art in action for science.
One of the final booths I visited and my personal favorite was the Biological Sciences booth. Who remembers the round dishes that we placed our cotton swab samples during high school biology class? Remember swiping a cotton swab across the water fountain, bottom of our shoes, and in our mouths to later see the resulting bacteria? Well, this booth had those fun petri dishes.
One in particular was a useful example for our everyday life – the results of a swab swipe from a cell phone! Think of this next time you go out to eat at a restaurant or sit down for dinner at home with your family. Were you just on your cell phone? Did you just write a text while eating your favorite hamburger or taco? You were on your phone and didn’t wash your hands? You may want to reconsider this next time!
Lastly, I stopped by a booth on my way out of the fest. I had the pleasure of meeting author, Gillian King-Cargile. She writes the exciting storybook series called The Toy And… in the STEM subjects. She featured her book titled The Toy and the Tide Pool that teaches children about sea creatures such as crabs and starfish. She places real science facts into her books in a creative and interactive way. The book club offers children reading material in all of the STEAM subject areas. Some topics that are included are biology, neurology, blindness and adaptive technology, geology, computer science, military science, and cancer research. If you enjoy reading with your children, check out http://www.stemread.com. Oh and looking to stretch the budget? The virtual book club is free!
As promised earlier, here are all the links to learn more!
The main event venue is always looking for volunteers and to get you excited for next year. Yes, it goes quicker than you think!! http://www.stemfest.niu.edu/stemfest/
Geology can yield the crystal ball… https://www.geosociety.org/
Underwater excursions and research. http://www.wissard.org
NASA, rockets, and ambassadors – sounds like a fun time! https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/ssa/home.cfm
CodeGirls Camp, college research, and education at Argonne. https://www.anl.gov/education
I know that sandbox was so much fun! Do you want to make one at home? Visit https://arsandbox.ucdavis.edu/
STEAM City seems like a good metro place to be, so check out their blog at: StEaM-city.tumblr.com
Biology is the study of life. Life is all around us. To learn more, visit https://www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk/courses/biological-sciences/guide-to-studying-biological-sciences/
Bedtime stories are the best! Visit here and get some more stories!! http://www.stemread.com
If you would like to check out The Toy and book series, visit http://www.stemread.com/toy-and-the-test-drive-2/