Local News

$20K grant from Facebook supports NIU’s STEM Fest

DeKALB – A Northern Illinois University event which celebrates advances in science, technology, engineering and math, recently received a $20,000 grant from Facebook, according to an announcement.

NIU STEAM, in Northern Illinois University’s Division of Outreach, Engagement and Regional Development, received the graint to support its annual festival called STEM Fest.

As the lead sponsor of this free family event, organizers said Facebook is helping to provide fun, hands-on learning activities that spark curiosity for STEM fields in people of all ages.

“We’re thrilled to partner with Facebook to bring STEM Fest back in person this year,” Kristin Brynteson, director of NIU STEAM, said in a news release. “We share a commitment to making STEM education accessible to all people in DeKalb and the northern Illinois region.”

Facebook has been part of the community since 2020 when it broke ground on a data center in DeKalb.

Northern Illinois University’s STEM Fest started more than a decade ago, and the event has now become a DeKalb tradition that welcomes visitors of all ages to hear expert speakers, view science demo shows and engage in hundreds of hands-on learning activities. The event will be in person this year at a new location in the center of NIU’s DeKalb campus.

STEM Fest will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 23, in the NIU Holmes Student Center, Founders Memorial Library, MLK Commons and other nearby buildings. Highlights will include workshops in the STEAM classroom in Swen Parson Hall, big stage productions in the Holmes Student Center auditorium, and an exploration of entrepreneurship and innovation in the Founders Memorial Library innovation space.

Visitors will get to experience the most popular activities from past years as well as some fun new exhibits. They’ll program robots, build with blocks, test out virtual reality technology, witness a weather balloon launch with real-time data displays and explore the Haunted Physics Lab. They’ll also get a chance to chat with experts in physics, engineering, chemistry, meteorology, nursing and many other fields to find their spark of inspiration.

“We appreciate the opportunity to invest in DeKalb County through events like NIU’s STEM Fest where learning about science, math and engineering is hands-on and fun,” Matt Sexton, Community Development regional manager at Facebook, said in the release. “Facebook is committed to the long-term vitality of communities where we are located, and we look forward to building relationships with partners in DeKalb County for years to come.”

Learn more at go.niu.edu/STEMFest.