High School Camps

Girls learns to solder at a STEM Camp

2020 STEM Career Exploration Camps

With so many great STEM professions out there, which one is right for you? NIU’s STEM Career camps give high school students a chance to spend a week immersed in a subject of their choice. Campers work on real world projects, meet with experts in their fields and learn more about the varieties of careers available.

Entering grades 10 - 12, residential, Sun – Fri

  • June 14-19: Computer Science, Engineering, Health Sciences, Video Game Design and Development
  • June 21-26: 3D Design, Life Sciences, Video Game Design and Development
  • July 19-24: Chemistry, Engineering Health Sciences, Maker Camp
  • July 26-31: Engineering, Health Sciences, Product Design, Video Game Design and Development


You’ll apply to the track of your choice and spend the bulk of the week with the smaller group of students who have also chosen that track. Evening recreational activities will involve all campers.

Campers can expect a fun and busy week as STEM career options open up before them!

  • Experience dorm life by living and dining in the newly renovated Gilbert Hall.
  • Interact with professionals and students in their chosen STEM fields throughout the day, including informally at meals.
  • Enjoy evening activities, such as video game night, movie night and outdoor recreational activities.

Who should apply? If you can answer yes to any of these questions, STEM Career Explorations is for you!

  • Are you a high school student curious about STEM career possibilities and interested in exploring some of them?
  • Do you like math or science but have no idea what you could do for a career?
  • Are your parents telling you to become an engineer because they make good money, but you don’t know what an engineer does?
  • Do you dream of becoming a nurse, physical therapist or doctor?
  • Do you wonder what other health careers there are behind the scenes at a hospital?

Check out the tracks below!

Campers will choose one track. Register early as each track is limited to 20 participants.

3D Printers are changing the way we build the future. This track will focus exclusively on careers in 3D design and manufacturing and will give you the opportunity to develop skills needed to design and produce your own 3D objects using a variety of exciting technologies. You’ll use two of the leading computer aided design programs in the industry, meet with professionals in the field, and tour the Maker Space at the NIU College of Engineering and Engineering Technology. See how 3D design is used to create jewelry and watch how 3D prints are turned into metal art pieces at this innovative camp.

Chemists work on teams to develop pharmaceuticals; create new chemical compounds; test food, water or soil; and even analyze evidence in criminal investigations. Chemistry is in everything and chemists work in nearly every field. In this track, you’ll get hands-on experience with chemical reactions, water and soil testing, food chemistry and more. Meet with chemists and chemical engineers working in the field and learn about the wide range of chemistry careers available.

Learn about careers related to biology, horticulture, zoology, environmental sciences and more as you experience exciting field trips and hands-on projects. Highlights include visits to Afton Nature Reserve and Nachusa Grasslands. Session include hands-on activities covering genetics, forestry, microbiology, marine biology, and wildlife rehabilitation.

Engineers are the link between mathematical and scientific concepts and practical, commercial applications. They work in teams to develop, test and produce everything from the smallest nanotechnology to the largest rockets, buildings and road and sewer systems. In this track, you’ll complete a series of hands-on engineering projects as you learn about the different types of careers available to engineers. NIU College of Engineering and Engineering Technology faculty will lead sessions daily, most in their own research labs. We’ll also meet with NIU Engineering students and tour additional engineering and tech labs.

In this track, you’ll investigate many of the ways in which scientists are helping people live healthier lives. We’ll meet with pharmacologists, biomedical engineers, epidemiologists and other types of health professionals, and you’ll get a chance to tour their labs and perform hands-on experiments. Highlights include a guided tour of the NIU Anatomy Lab, where you’ll see the cadavers NIU students dissect in their human anatomy studies. You’ll also have a chance to dissect a cow heart and practice your suturing skills by stitching it back together.

This session will introduce you to a range of tools and processes to help your creativity flourish. You’ll get to build your own projects using power tools, 3D printers, soldering irons and more, as you learn to use tools safely and select the right tool for the job. Come with your own idea and we’ll help you bring it to life. Or we’ll give you some project ideas to help you get started. * This camp is highly recommended, although not required, for those who wish to enroll in Product Design camp.

Do you have a great idea for a product? Stretch your skills and ingenuity as you learn how to take your idea through the product design cycle, from design to prototyping, testing and improving. You’ll talk with an intellectual property lawyer about how to patent your idea; create a Shark Tank-style sales pitch; and conduct cost and market analyses. You’ll walk away from this camp with a big picture view of how products are developed, manufactured and brought to market. * Making camp is highly recommended, but not required, before enrolling in Product Design.

In partnership with NIU’s Digital Convergence Lab. Are you interested in video games, animation, or 3D virtual worlds? Do you know that designing games is a team effort involving several types of artists, writers, and programmers, as well as the game designer? Sign up for the Video Game Design and Development track to try your hand at game design and learn about the various careers available. Join us to use professional software to design and develop a playable video game. Participants will explore popular video games, learn the essentials of game design, develop a game story, create game characters, invent game goals and rules, storyboard game scenarios, design a game interface and create sound effects to realize their games. No prior experience is needed, but those who have participated in our Exploring STEM through Video Game Design and Development Camp will be able to use the week to advance their skills.