148 N 3rd St, DeKalb, IL 60115

Professional Development

Upcoming Events

STEM Read Summer Institute 2019
When: 07/24/2019 09:00 AM - 07/26/2019 03:30 PM
Where: Gable Hall, Learning Center, DeKalb, IL
Who: Everybody
Cost: $495 (Early Bird before June 1 – $425) per person* * If you are interested in receiving Graduate credit from the College of Education, please contact Melanie Koss (

Register Now! 

Be a part of NIU STEM Read!
Become a NIU STEM Read Educator!

As a NIU STEM Read Educator, you will learn how to facilitate an action-packed STEM Read event in your school! You will also have access to the materials and resources you need to make your STEM Read event a success.

As a STEM Read Educator you will

  • Attend a three-day STEM Read Summer Institute from July 24 – July 26, 2019
  • Receive Digital Toolkits for the 2018 -2019 STEM Read events and one archived toolkit from the STEM Read Vault
  • Be able to check out STEM Read Event kits housed in the NIU College of Education’s Children’s Literature Teaching Collection
  • Have access to one NIU STEM Read Educator webinar per semester for the 2019-2020 school year
  • Be able to set up virtual coaching sessions with the NIU STEM Read Team during the 2019-2020 school year
  • Receive an official NIU STEM Read Educator digital badge for your email and website

Other benefits include

  • Early access to on campus STEM Read events
  • Discount registration for on campus STEM Read PD sessions during the 2019-2020 school year
  • Discount registration for the 2020 NIU STEM Read Summer Institute
  • Opportunities to network and connect with other NIU STEM Read Educators

STEM Read Summer Institute

During the three-day summer institute, you will become an expert in STEM Read’s unique approach to learning through gamified STEM Read field trips. Each day you will experience a new NIU STEM Read field trip. After each field trip, you will work with the NIU STEM Read experts to learn how they designed each event and learn how to facilitate each one at your own school. You will also gain tips and tricks for how to adapt and modify the events to best fit the needs of your locations. The institute will include time for networking and collaborating with your fellow NIU STEM Read Educators and an author of one of our STEM Read selections.

This year’s special guests are Lex Hrabe and Thomas Voorhies. Otherwise known as writing team Lex Thomas. Authors of the Quarantine Series.

The STEM Read Summer Institute is offered in partnership with the Department of Curriculum and Instruction in NIU’s College of Education. Learn more about the Department of Curriculum and Instruction on their website.

Children’s Literature Teaching Collection
The Children’s Literature Teaching Collection (CLTC) is a non-circulating resource library housed in the College of Education’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

For more information contact Kristin Brynteson (, Gillian King-Cargile (, or Melanie Koss ( with questions about this program.

Registration includes:

  • Continental breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Campus parking
  • STEM Read book pack.

Attendees are responsible for their own housing and travel.


About NIU STEM Read
STEM Read creates fun, hands-on games based on popular fiction books. Our high-energy games give students a chance to interact with text, participate in problem-solving challenges, and explore cool STEM concepts. Our free, online lesson plans provide additional ways for students to engage with the book and the science behind it. In the past year, we have reached over 12,000 people through our live events and hundreds of thousands more online at

Past Events

More on Professional Development

A STEAM-Based Approach

We can provide professional development to educators and librarians on STEAM-based interdisciplinary learning and technology integration.

Examples of Professional Development

Here are examples of programming that we can host or provide at your location. However, we always love coming up with something new!

Set Phasers to Fun! Exploring the STEAM Behind Science Fiction

Looking for new ways to shake up your program? Want to make learning cool again? Northern Illinois University’s STEM Read and SMARTspace@NIU host both online and in-person activities, discussions, games, and interactive experiences for everyone across the P-20 spectrum (pre-K through graduate school and beyond). Our NGSS-aligned activity guides and lesson plans provide a wealth of content in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM). Best of all, we connect our activities to popular science fiction books and movies! In this session, we’ll show you how you can incorporate our free online resources into your classroom and get students involved in STEAM-based activities related to popular Sci-Fi books and movies such as designing robots to help save humanity, sculpting a new sea creature with unusual defense mechanisms, and building and testing space crafts that will help humankind defend themselves from alien buggers.

STEAMing It Up! Hot Tips for Infusing Arts, Literacy, and Contemporary Fiction into STEM Education

STEAMing It Up! will provide creative strategies for combining STEM and the arts. Participants will experience interactive lessons, participate in networking and idea-sharing, and come away with free tools, lesson plans, and learning resources for engaging young learners with STEAM.

Learning Extension by Invention: A How-to Approach for Making Awesomeness

Want to inspire your students to make awesome STEAM-based creations? We’ll give you the information and free resources you need for “maker” projects in your classroom. Let’s talk about it all: robots, solar ovens, snake-repelling helmets, space crafts, games, and more! We’ll lead you in an example activity where you use the design process to research, write, explore, and build together. Discover how these activities can motivate students to make amazing creations while meeting the Next Generation Science Standards and the Common Core. Learn about support that is available to help you throughout the process by tapping into educational resources at Northern Illinois University that are free and open to everyone. Join us. We want YOU!

Exploring the Science Behind Science Fiction Using Popular Books and Movies

Connect with experts, educators, and students and participate in innovative interdisciplinary activities that explore the science behind science fiction using books and movies. Access a wealth of content with a basis in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM). As part of the P-20 Center at Northern Illinois University, SMARTspace@NIU and STEM Read host both online and in-person activities, discussions, games, and interactive STEAM-based experiences for everyone across the P-20 spectrum (pre-K through graduate school and beyond). Watch videos with scientists to learn more about the science in Sci-Fi books and movies and participate in related projects such as building robots, creating snake-repelling helmets, preparing for the zombie apocalypse, engineering paper airplanes, cracking encrypted codes, and testing your mind with logic puzzles. Participate in an activity in which you collaborate with others to solve a problem and help humanity. Learn about more ways you can join us, invent, innovate, and make a difference.

Too Hot for Teens? Balancing Concern and Censorship in Traditional and Online Learning Environments

We discuss censorship and digital media literacy and provide helpful tips on how to provide students with authentic technology-based learning opportunities. We discuss how teachers can become facilitators and co-learners in order to allow to students to take control over the learning process. Examples will be provided to demonstrate how to use technology to enhance learning and meet curricular outcomes.

Get Your Game On! Incorporating Online Educational Games into the Classroom

Play and learn at the same time! Turn your classroom into a learning portal where students take control of their learning as gamers and participate in fun educational activities. Discover how to use online gaming to facilitate learning. We will review gaming resources that you can use in your classroom and also discuss how you can create your own.

Ready, set, STOP! GO! Capture Students' Attention with Stop-Motion Animation

Learn how stop-motion animation can help students better understand educational content and enjoy the learning process. We will discuss the facilitation of the video creation process from conceptualization, storyboarding, and resource acquisition, to video production and presentation/distribution. We love free, so participants will learn about using mobile devices and free apps available for producing inspirational videos. Learn how to encourage students to produce original artwork and creative storylines that unite in a well-planned video production.

Schools, Libraries, Organizations

We would love to work with you.