Learning doesn’t take the summer off at Northern Illinois University.
And that’s not just for summer school students. It also applies to the hundreds of students who attend the more than 80 camps run each year at NIU, including those by NIU STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math).
In many ways, these camps are an offshoot of our annual STEM Fest each October, where we try to get students of all ages excited in STEM fields. Because it’s not just enough to get them excited about science and math for a day, you need to give them opportunities to roll up their sleeves and find out just how fun and interesting it can be. And that is what our camps strive to do.
This year, that has included camps for students in grades 2-5 to explore topics such as nature, animals color and sound; a week-long celebration of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing where middle schoolers made model rockets and designed their own Mars rover; and a variety of camps that have allowed high school students to explore careers in areas as diverse as video game design and earth science.
Regardless of the age of participants, all of these camps are meant to open the eyes of campers to the world of opportunities available to those who are prepared for STEM fields. Doing so has never been more important as there is a tremendous need to create a new generation of American innovators.
While it is already nearly the middle of July, there still are opportunities for students to get in on the fun.
For students entering grades 2-5, July 29-Aug. 1, we will be offering our STEM Superheroes Day Camp, where they can meet police, firefighters, paramedics and other everyday heroes and learn how STEM is a big, and growing, part of their work.
At the other end of our offerings, July 28-Aug. 2, students entering grades 10-12, can participate in a camp focusing on Engineering, Health Sciences, Project Design and Video Game Design. Participants will have the opportunity to select one of those tracks and spend the bulk of the week exploring their chosen field with others who share their interest. It also is an opportunity to experience living on campus and to interact with professionals and students in STEM fields throughout the day. Oh, and there are video games, movie nights and outdoor recreational activities, too!
Last, but not least, there still are opportunities for students in grades 9-12 to sign up for Quarantine: The Summer Camp! In this weeklong (July 21-26) examination of the book, “Quarantine: The Loners,” participants visit labs across campus and work with STEM experts to solve hands-on challenges related to microbiology, human health, disaster management, costume design, engineering, economics and more. They also will explore creative writing as they create Quarantine stories of their own. At the end of the week, campers will get to meet the authors of the book and participate in a final game to gather resources, fight for survival and find out which tribe really rules the school.
To learn more about these and other camps, visit www.niu.edu/summercamps.
• Judith Dymond is a part of NIU STEAM in Northern Illinois University’s Division of Outreach and Engagement and Regional Development.