Middle School Camps
2019 Exploring STEM Camps
Explore your passion with NIU’s Exploring STEM camps! Each week offers several exciting topics to engage young scientists in the wonders of STEM. With tracks ranging from art to robotics to video game design, there’s sure to be something to spark your interests.
Entering grades 7-9, residential, Sunday - Friday
- July 7-12 @ Lorado Taft: Art, Lightning Bolts & Magnetic Fields, Engineering, Gaming & Puzzles, Programming & Robotics
- July 14-19 @ Lorado Taft: Coding, Making, LEGO WaterBotics
- July 21-26 @ NIU DeKalb: Chemistry, Digital Arts, Making, From the Moon to Mars, Video Game Design
Check out the descriptions below for details about each track!
Design, create and innovate! Experience physics through pendulum painting. Exploit the different densities of paints and other solvents to create art through acrylic paint pouring. Campers will explore the connections between art and science with these and other hands-on creative projects.
From the food we eat to the products we use every day, chemistry is in everything and chemists work in nearly every field! Forensic chemists even help to solve crimes by using science to analyze crime scenes. At this camp, we’ll explore chemistry by learning about forensics and criminology. You’ll learn about the history of forensic science, the shortcomings of forensics and what the future of forensics might look like, all while getting hands-on experience in the lab as you complete your own experiments to solve crimes.
From interactive robots to desktop and web applications, this camp will encourage students to expand their programming skills. Campers will learn how different types of programming languages are used, including Arduino, Raspberry Pi and Python. You’ll even create your own Arduino based project to take home. (This track assumes some familiarity with computers and coding. For beginning students, please see our Programming and Robotics Track.)
What stories do you want to tell? How can you communicate emotions and important information using the digital technologies that are available all around us? At this camp, you’ll get a chance to use green screens, digital photography, photo editing, stop motion animation and other technologies to communicate important stories and concepts. We’ll also learn about how digital arts affect us as others communicate stories and feelings to us through various media. You’ll also learn how to work within the limitations of certain digital platforms, such as Instagram or Twitter, to effectively communicate your message.
From designing roads and buildings to cell phones and self-driving cars, engineers are solving problems and creating the future every day. In this camp, we’ll develop our critical thinking and problem-solving skills with hands-on challenges and fun design competitions that will spark your inner engineer!
(New camp for 2019!). This summer will mark fifty years since Neil Armstrong took his famous first steps onto another world. We’ll be celebrating that accomplishment with a whole week of out-of-this-world fun investigating rockets, robots and all the other cool technology that helps humans explore The Moon, Mars and beyond. Highlights include building and launching a model rocket and designing a rover to explore the surface of Mars.
STEAM learning and fun go hand in hand as campers explore the science and math behind their favorite board, card and dice games and develop a game of their own. You’ll learn about probability, logic and game mechanics as you play old and new favorites such as Yahtzee, Monopoly, Dixit, Catan and Pandemic, and as you solve puzzles to navigate our escape rooms. Then put your logic and design skills into action to create your own game.
What if you could build and program your own robot to travel across the water and even plunge beneath the surface? In this camp, you’ll design, build and program LEGO NXT robots and then test them in a series of underwater challenges. You’ll get to practice the engineering design process as you build, test and then refine your design, and you’ll develop your familiarity with informational technology tools and computer programming.
In this electrifying session, campers will explore the science of electricity and magnetism through exciting hands-on activities and interactive projects. Campers will investigate circuits and electronics as they learn to solder and construct their own devices. They will also explore the phenomenon of electromagnet radiation as they create their own working radio transmitters.
Would you like to build your own projects using power tools, 3D printers, soldering irons and more? This session will introduce campers to a range of tools and processes to help their creativity flourish. Speaking of creativity, did you know that you can make a time-keeping device out of marbles, water, candles, sand, the sun or moon… just about anything, really? There are even different measures of time that don’t rely on our traditional 12-hour cycle. As you learn to select and safely use the right tools for the job, we’ll challenge you to come up with and make your own creative clock or time-tracking device. The possibilities are endless!
Learn the basics of creating a program, and see your program come to life! This is the perfect camp for those who would like to learn coding and don’t have any prior experience. We’ll learn to program several different types of robots, including LEGO EV3 kits and Finches, and we’ll learn how robots are used in the real world. Block-based programming will allow campers to quickly master and apply basic coding concepts to let their creativity shine.
In partnership with NIU’s Digital Convergence Lab. Why spend your summer playing video games, when you could learn how to make you own? Campers will use computer-based tools to design and prototype a playable video game while developing skills in complex problem solving, working in teams, project management, and using computer design software.