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We are dedicated to building a community of researchers and educators who together innovate ways to engage students and the public in STEM fields — Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

04 September 2015

The Last Invention We’ll Ever Need

We have another fun video for you this week! Here’s a great TED talk by philosopher and technologist Nick Bostrom about the development of artificial intelligence and how it might impact the world. Like the internet, it’s very hard to envision what life would be like with this technology before it is a reality but people like Dr. Bostrom are thinking hard about it. Young students are going to be faced with new technologies and concerns in the future and exposing them to some of the developments they can look forward to is a great opportunity to get them interested in STEM topics.

02 September 2015

Noyce Interns Explore Space

nsf4This past summer, two interns from our Noyce Program were at Adler Planetarium in Chicago doing some pretty impressive activities. Rebecca Krasny and Ricardo Wells spent their summer at the planetarium learning a lot and teaching a lot as well. There were also a lot of Noyce Interns around the Edwardsville area, and there’s plenty of information about this NSD on the Noyce site.

Read the Full Article at the SIUE News site.

01 September 2015

Volunteer Fair Tomorrow at the MUC

Science camp

Tomorrow from 10am – 2pm the Kimmel Leadership Center is having a Volunteer Fair in the Morris University Center. Come see our fun stuff at the STEM Center table and sign up for volunteer opportunities like the Science and Engineering Research Challenge or Science Olympiad. For those of you interested in volunteering who can’t make it to the fair, feel free to send us an email to ask about opportunities and get on our mailing lists.

28 August 2015

Amazing Bead Video

Need some new videos for your lessons in Forces and Motion? Try this one that shows how a simple chain of beads like you might find in a necklace can behave very strangely. This is a great example of a Discrepant Event, something that behaves differently than you might suspect. Answering the question of why is a great excercise for STEM students of all ages, regardless of whether they come up with a definitive answer.

Thanks to our undergrad staffperson Valerie Becker for finding this topic.

27 August 2015

New STEM Center Hours

STEM-Logo-smSharp-eyed visitors might have already noticed that we changed our hours earlier this week. We will be open from 11am-3pm on Monday through Thursday and also until 6pm on Wednesday. If you want to come early (or late for that matter) you can call and let us know and we’ll make sure someone will be around. The STEM Center can be reached at (618) 650-3065 or at

We are making this change based on our usage traffic in order to better serve the public. By concentrating our efforts on a smaller window we are better able to provide prompt service to anyone stopping by. We are often available outside of our “open-door” times as well so if you’re in doubt, just call!

25 August 2015

Teacher Workshops This Fall

The STEM Center will be hosting some teacher workshops later this fall and we want you to join us! More details will be forthcoming but Continuing Professional Development Units will be offered as part of each workshop’s fee. Contact the Colin Wilson ( or watch this page for more details but for now, check out the topic descriptions below!

Lego Robotics

Our November workshop experience will be an introduction to robotics education with Lego® Mindstorms robots. At the STEM Center we have classroom sets of the NXT (middle school and high school) and WeDo (elementary school) robotics sets and both will be available during the workshop. Learn an easy and modular way to introduce your students to programming, engineering, problem-solving, and robotic design with these kits, then schedule a time to borrow our sets to take back to your school!

Engineering Design

In December we will be approaching engineering design with the same inquiry learning style we have taken with various science topics in the past. Utilizing the Design It! and Explore It! curricula produced by the Educational Development Center, we will look at easy, hands-on projects that encourage both student creativity and student methodology. These curricula are perfect for after school programs and classroom units on engineering.

12 August 2015

Digital East Saint Louis in the News!

Students in the Coding the Community project.The Belleville News-Democrat has a great news story about the Coding for Community project which our staff has been involved in. This project with East St. Louis schools involves students from the Metro-East area exploring their hometown and building a website to share its rich history and geography. They’ve been doing some great work already this summer and the project is only getting started! Read more by clicking the link below.

Byte by Byte, East St. Louis Students Get to Know Their Hometown

26 June 2015

Seeing Through Alien Eyes

What would it be like to see through alien eyes? Or to only see a limited amount of color? The activity, “Seeing Through Alien Eyes” from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific and Family ASTRO, lets you do just that. It’s also a great introduction to telescope color filters.

20150605_144328The activity has participants look at several “scenes” made out in differently colored felt. The participants are wearing visors that have been made to filter only red, blue, or green light. What do they see? What does the world look like through each color? Can they agree on which tree is really green, or which sun really yellow?

We recently did this activity with the summer campers at the Leu Civic Center. They had a blast trying to figure out the world through their alien visors, first in groups of all the same color, the in groups with visors of each color. They even decided to repurpose their visors for their planetary settlement in a later activity!

We now have a kit to go along with activity, so you don’t have to make the visors and felt scenes from scratch! Check out this kit in our inventory. It comes with 21 visors, 3 felt scenes, and the instructions for the activity. We hope you enjoy seeing the world through alien eyes as much as we did.

Guest post by Nicole Gugliucci

18 June 2015

New Toolkit: Our Magnetic Sun

It’s time to wrap up the third of our three introductory posts to our Night Sky Network toolkits.

MagSunBannerSmThis time, we have an introduction to Our Magnetic Sun. This kit explores the magnetic fields of the Sun with, well, magnets! Magnets strategically placed onto a banner of the Sun in one case, free floating magnets in other case, and a simulated “solar storm” with magnets on it as well. Some of these activities might be good for a general introduction to magnetism, especially the box with four compasses placed around it to map the magnetic field of a small object. But these do specifically tie into the Sun and how magnetic fields produce solar storms and affect us here on Earth, including with beautiful aurorae.

UV2There are also a few ways to observe the Sun safely. Information cards included in the kit describe safe solar viewing methods, and several pair of solar viewing glasses are included. Don’t forget, NEVER look at the Sun without proper protection! You can detect sunlight in other ways, specifically in the ultraviolet. You don’t need a special instrument for that, since there exist color-changing beads that react to ultraviolet light, but not most indoor lighting. This is great for teaching about ultraviolet light and the importance of proper sun protection while outside. The kit comes with a few beads, but we have many more in the Resource Center.

Check out the Our Magnetic Sun kit today in our Resource Center, or browse the activities and videos on the Night Sky Network webpage.

Guest post by Nicole Gugliucci. Images by Night Sky Network.

17 June 2015

Meet the Itty Bitty Radio Telescope!

20150616_185344My background is in radio astronomy, and I spent much of my graduate school career helping to build a radio telescope that is doing research in South Africa. It turns out that you can build a really simple radio telescope as well, just using parts that others have trashed or from an electronics store. (Okay, maybe you should check Amazon if Radio Shack didn’t stay open near you.)

So, I’ve built an Itty Bitty Radio Telescope (IBRT) for the STEM Resource Center, and it is now available for loan and use! The “Itty Bitty” comes out of educational and outreach efforts from various organizations, and they all have good instructions on how you can make your own. I pulled this particular dish from the dumpster area in my apartment complex, but you can often get one for free by searching Freecycle or Craigslist. Or, just ask a friend if they have a satellite tv dish that is no longer in use.

This IBRT uses an old ChannelMaster as a way of seeing how strong of a signal is being detected. It has a dial readout but also gives off a sound that increases in frequency as the signal gets stronger. The ChannelMaster we use is no longer made, but I wanted to pick a system I was familiar with, even though almost any satellite meter will do. Also, it meant I could get a few cheaply from eBay.

So what can this Itty Bitty see? As far as astronomical objects go, it can pretty much only see the Sun. It is a very small antenna, so it needs a very bright radio object. And our Sun does gives off a lot of radio emission. It’s a pretty cool demonstration for a cloudy day, but it will work anytime that the Sun is out, as you can see in the short video below.