Spooky Science Saturday returns at NIU

DEKALB – Spooky Science Saturday, Northern Illinois University’s hugely popular Halloween-related event, promises to be bigger and better than ever this year. And that’s saying something, considering that the featured attractions, the Haunted Physics Lab and Creepy Chemistry Lab, drew 1,700 visitors in 2008.

This year’s event has been expanded to two campus buildings. Spooky Science Saturday will be held from 1-5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24, with visitors asked to begin tours of the laboratories in Faraday Hall West on the NIU campus. Exhibits and activities also will be located in Faraday Hall. The two buildings are connected by a tunnel on the lower level.

“We’ve spread out to accommodate the increasing number of participants,” says Pati Sievert, NIU’s coordinator for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Outreach.

“We’re thrilled that this event has become popular over the years,” she said. “We will have more than 100 interactive displays or hands-on activities designed to spark young people’s interests in science. Halloween provides us with the perfect opportunity.”

Displays featured in the darkened laboratories will include periscopes, glowing liquids, a duck-in kaleidoscope, a flash/shadow wall, a levitating globe and fun-house mirrors. Visitors can don “rainbow glasses” and ponder the lightning bolts in a plasma globe. A fog machine will be used for visualization of lasers.

And, thanks once again to the NIU Chemistry Club, kids will have an opportunity to make take-home slime.“Slime is back,” Sievert said. “It was popular last year, so we are creating more slime-making stations and will have plenty of materials.”

Spooky Science Saturday is geared for families. It is part of the larger NIU STEM Outreach effort to spark young people’s interest in the sciences well before they reach college age. Volunteer students and professors will be on hand to explain the science behind the demonstrations.

Members of the public can arrive any time during the open-house event. Entrance is free, although a $2 donation is suggested, and donors will receive “mood pencils.” Free parking will be available in the NIU Parking Deck on the west side of Normal Road, about one block north of Lincoln Highway.

The Haunted Physics Lab is sponsored by NIU STEM Outreach, the Department of Physics and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. For more information, see www.outreach.niu.edu/stem/haunted_lab.shtml.

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