Outreach and Engagement



Using funding from the State of Illinois, particle physics faculty Dave Hedin and Jerry Blazey initiated a physics outreach program in 2001 which was dubbed the Frontier Physics Program to reflect NIU ties to Fermilab and Argonne. Activities included school visits, summer science camps and the Haunted Physics Lab, with this evolving into NIU's STEM Outreach program in 2008.

Haunted Physics Laboratory and STEMfest

The Department of Physics holds an annual Haunted Physics Laboratory (HPL) as part of the NIU STEMfest. Started in 2003, the event gain popularity and out grew its original location at Faraday Hall. In 2010, HPL was moved to the NIU Convocation Center and was expanded to include other STEM disciplines and became the backbone of STEMfest. The HPL and related LaserFest displays are still some of the most popular parts of STEMfest, which is held in late October each year. 

Hands-on Physics

NIU STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Outreach can bring 25-100 of the interactive physics displays,  developed for the Haunted Physics Labs, to your school for a day-long or evening event.  Billed as Physics Phun Labs, except near Halloween when they are still recognized as Haunted Physics Labs, these investigations are sure to intrigue students from kindergarten through high school. 

Frontier Physics Road Show

NIU's popular and dynamic physics demonstration programs for students in kindergarten through high school can be customized for each audience by choosing themes and concepts that reflect the materials currently being covered in class. Demonstrations using liquid nitrogen, plasma globes, strong magnets, lasers and diffraction-lensed rainbow glasses among many other intriguing demos excite students as they bring physics concepts to life.

To arrange to bring either the Hands-on Physics or Frontier Physics programs to your school or community, contact


Campus Visits

STEM Outreach can assist with arrangements for campus visits in any of the STEM fields and in arranging for faculty or students to visit your classroom. 

Professional Development

Whether you are looking for ways to engage your students or increase your content knowledge, STEM Outreach can help  you connect with professional development resources at NIU. 

To connect with NIU faculty in Physics or other STEM fields for visits or professional development, contact 

Pati Sievert
STEM Outreach Director


NIU's Davis Hall Observatory is open to the public for telescope viewing on Thursdays and Fridays when NIU  is in session and at other times by appointment.

Fermilab Tours

The general public can visit Fermilab and see many sites at the lab on its own. But of special interest is a tour of the D0 experiment and the Fermilab Tevatron Collider. This tour has to be arranged in advance. The tour guides are members of the D0 collaboratiopn including some from NIU.


The Physics Department also sponsors a number of programs with high school teachers and students including the Quarknet week during the summer.