2016 Speakers

Keynote Speaker

Olympia LePoint, "Reprogramming Your Brain to Master STEM"
Using science and her own experiences to help individuals reprogram their brain and overcome their fear of math, Olympia LePoint is an author, educator, science entertainer and award-winning former rocket scientist. Committed to math literacy and helping adults and students overcome their fear of math, LePoint formed the national education program: Olympia's End Mathaphobia in 2010. She established the book publishing and educational entertainment company, OL Consulting Corporation and in 2013, published Mathaphobia: How You Can Overcome Your Math Fears and Become a Rocket Scientist.
Following the completion of her undergraduate studies at the age of 21, she was hired as a mathematician for The Boeing Company, where she served as a rocket scientist for NASA programs from 1998 to 2007. While at Boeing, LePoint helped launch NASA's Endeavour, Discovery, Columbia, and Atlantis Space Shuttles. As a specialist supporting the Mission Control Center, she was responsible for recommending real-time solutions to ensure safe rocket launches and authorized multimillion-dollar rocket engine testing. LePoint helped design and build experimental space rockets, and to launch 28 NASA Space Shuttles.
LePoint writes blogs for the Huffington Post, hosts the weekly talk show "Answers Unleashed" and has appeared in countless magazines and news publications, including gracing the cover of Porter Ranch Life Magazine in 2014. In 2010, she was recognized as "The New Face for Math Literacy" on Oprah.com. She has appeared on PBS "Between the Lines," NBC and CBS2/KCAL9 News, "Kaplan at Night," Dr. Drew's "Life Changers" TV Show, as well as "The Bret Lewis News Hour," "Jump Shipp," and "Christians OnDemand" Episodes. LePoint is also a distinguished Tedx Speaker and shares her powerful story in the TED Talk "Reprogramming Your Brain to Overcome Fear" at the TEDx Conference, TEDxPCC.

Guest Speaker

Dr. Diandra Leslie-Pelecky, "The Physics of NASCAR"
Working at the "intersection between science and story," Diandra Leslie-Pelecky uses her background as a nanomaterials researcher, educator and master science communicator to bring science to both technical and non-technical audiences of all ages. The author of the book "The Physics of NASCAR: The Science Behind the Speed," Leslie-Pelecky blogs about the science of motorsports at buildingspeed.org/blog and appears every other Friday on the SiriusXM Speedway satellite radio program to comment on current tech-related events. She has served as a guest, contributor or writer for motorsports programming on ESPN, H2 and VOOM HD, as well as the National Science Foundation's Science of Speed web series.

Guest Speaker

Jerry Zimmerman, "Mr. Freeze"
Employed as an Engineering Physicist with the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) in Batavia, Jerry Zimmerman has volunteered as the Lab's third incarnation of "Mr. Freeze" since 1997. Providing demonstrations to thousands of students each year as his alter-ego Mr. Freeze, Zimmerman is dedicated to motivating and encouraging young people to better appreciate and study science.
Making science fun, the Mr. Freeze demonstration shows the interesting and entertaining properties of cryogenics and extreme cold using Liquid Nitrogen (LN2). Sponsored by Fermilab since the 1970s, Mr. Freeze provides an exciting science-based show with lots of surprises mixed with interesting scientific facts.

2016 Activities and Exhibitors

All About Bones

Your bones serve several crucial functions: they provide structural support for your body, protect your organs, store minerals and provide an environment to produce blood cells. Featuring a wide variety of samples on display, this booth will provide visitors an in-depth view of the anatomy and physiology of the human skeleton including opportunities to compare differences between male and female bone structures, examine a fetal skull, explore bone under the microscope, experiment to see what happens to acid-soaked bones and much more.

American Science and Surplus

Learn about electricity and electrostatics, observe the workings of a Van de Graaff generator and browse a variety of science kits designed to inspire young minds.

Astronomy & Telescopes

Visitors can take part in indoor and outdoor telescopic viewing (weather permitting). They can also make spectroscope observation of gas spectra to simulate how we identify the composition of stars. Participants will also learn about the evolution of the Mars atmosphere.

Ball Python Genetics: Beauty of the Beast

In recent years, selective breeding has led to an explosion of captive bred animals displaying a staggering variety of color and pattern mutations ("morphs"). Visitors can observe live animals representing a variety of morphs while learning about genetic concepts, responsible animal husbandry and conservation issues related to native and non-native species of snakes.

The Birthday Paradox

Many people have fundamental misconceptions about probability or the likelihood of something occurring, yet understanding probability is an important element in understanding math and science. Taking part in a brief experiment, visitors will learn about probability by discovering the likelihood of two people sharing the same birthday.

The Book Store

Glen Ellyn's very own Book Store will be on hand featuring a wide variety of books covering captivating topics in science, technology, engineering and math.

Computer Game Coding for Students

Participants can sign up for one of three one-hour introductory computer game coding classes featuring coding for games in the style of Flappy Bird (10:30 to 11:30 a.m.), Minecraft (12:30 to 1:30 p.m. and Ice Age Play Lab (2:30 to 3:30 p.m.). Space for these classes is limited. Prospective participants must register for the classes as soon as possible upon arrival to STEMCON.

Dark Energy Survey

In 1998, astronomers studying distant supernovae discovered that the expansion of the universe is speeding up. Yet, according to Einstein's theory of General Relativity, gravity should lead to a slowing of the expansion. A collaboration of more than 120 scientists from research institutions and universities from around the globe, the Dark Energy Survey is designed to probe the origin of the accelerating universe and help uncover the nature of dark energy by measuring the 14-billion-year history of cosmic expansion. Visitors will learn about the survey's progress to date and future goals.

Department of Natural Resources

View live indigenous species and learn about conservation and natural resources in Illinois.

Discover Your Microbiome

Sometimes called "good" bacteria, probiotics are microbes (such as live bacteria and yeasts) which can provide many health benefits. Visitors will see how Kombucha is made and examine bacteria-rich GoodBelly and Kefir under a microscope to see living bacteria and learn where microbes live in our bodies.

ECO-City Urban Planners

Led by a representative from Argonne National Laboratory, visitors will learn about concepts in environmental science and how it relates to urban planning. Participants will manipulate alternative energy sources in a model city to learn concepts about alternative energy and how it can be applied when designing a city.

Engineering and Technology Club Robotics

Comprising COD engineering and technology students across a range of disciplines, the award-winning Engineering and Technology Team will share information about the design and build process and provide demonstrations of their robots ETC 1 and ETC 2. One of only 36 teams nationally to compete in the UIUC Midwest Robotics competition for the past four years, COD's Team has been the only two-year school to be invited to compete against prestigious universities including UIUC, University of Illinois at Chicago, Northern Illinois University and the Illinois Institute of Technology. In 2015, the team was awarded Best Design at the UIUC Midwest Robotics competition and was one of only two community colleges invited to participate in the 2015 NASA Robotic Mining Competition held at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Energy Bike

Participants will learn about energy efficiency through pedaling a bike which will measure their pedal power and use the energy to power a variety of light bulbs including compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), incandescent and light emitting diode (LED) bulbs.

Exploring Electromagnetism

Exploring the wonders of electricity, magnetism, light and optics, visitors will see fascinating demonstrations of variety of phenomena including parabolic reflection, magnetic levitation, electromagnetic induction and the polarization of light.

GMO Taste Test

Visitors will learn about foods that are products of GMOs and can participate in a taste test comparing organic and GMO produced foods. Visitors will also learn how GMOs are used to promote advances in agriculture, medicine, pharmaceuticals and research.

Google Cardboard

Through the use of Google Cardboard, participants will download and install recommended virtual reality apps onto their own smartphones and experience a simple virtual reality environment.

IceCube Neutrino Project

Visitors will learn how to analyze data collected at the South Pole's IceCube Observatory, the largest single detector ever built. Participants will see if they can tell the difference between cascades and tracks that denote different types of neutrinos or tell the difference between cosmic ray muon and neutrino and more.

Invasion of the Mollusks

Originally native to Eastern Europe, Zebra mussels were picked up in the ballast water of ocean-going ships and brought to the Great Lakes in the 1980s. By 1990 Zebra mussels had infested all of the Great Lakes. Visitors learn about the effects of this invasive species on populations of indigenous Smallmouth Bass and safe handling of bass. Will feature live specimens of living aquatic organisms.

Math Magic

While participants work with the properties of numbers, counting bases, algebra and division properties, mathematicians will guess visitors birthdays, as well as numbers and cards they choose using the everyday "magic" of applied mathematics.

Medicinal Plants

Plants have been used medicinally across the globe to treat a wide variety of illnesses for thousands of years. Visitors will learn about a variety of medicinal plants and beneficial products that are available without a prescription. In addition, participants have the opportunity to observe how plant extracts and fungal products inhibit bacterial growth.

Microbes are Everywhere

Illustrating the importance of hand-washing and the ubiquitous bacteria we commonly come into contact with, this interactive demonstration, with the help of Glo-Germ lotion and an ultraviolet light, clearly illustrates the journey of bacteria from our hands to the hands of others and everything we touch. Visitors will also meet Microbiome Mike and learn about common organisms which can be transmitted by unwashed hands and where they might normally be found.

Nanotechnology: It's a Small World

Referring to engineering and manipulation of functional systems at the molecular scale, nanotechnology is found in a broad range of industries and applications including, electronics, green energy and conservation, healthcare, medicine, space exploration and textiles, to name just a few. Visitors will take a closer look at molecular structures and particles and investigate changes as particles become increasingly smaller.

Newton's Third Law

Representatives from Lewis University use Newton's Third Law to show how teachers impact students.

Parabolic Properties

While a parabola has many wonderful geometric properties, it also has an amazing characteristic known as the reflection property, which is used in a variety of everyday applications including car headlights and satellite dishes. Visitors explore the reflective property of a parabolic shape as it bounces off a reflective surface and hits a focus point.

Prairie Tour (weather permitting)

Visitors will learn about prairie restoration at COD and tour the Ecological Study area, a section of approximately 15 acres of woodland, marsh and reconstructed prairie featuring nearly 300 species of native tallgrass plants, as well as a variety of wildlife including many species of insects, toads, frogs, turtles, small mammals, and birds such as warblers, wading birds, owls and hawks.
Appropriate clothing (long pants and walking shoes) is required.

Protein Modelling

Proteins are molecules which are necessary for the structure, function and regulation of the body's tissues and organs. Magnificently complex, proteins are made up of hundreds or thousands of smaller units called amino acids, which are attached to one another in long chains. Visitors will have the opportunity to view and manipulate digital protein structure models to learn about the complex and well-designed world of proteins.

River System Development

Participants will model the development of a river drainage basin by producing precipitation and runoff in a stream table. Each simulation will result in 'time-lapsed' erosion of the sand within the table. Within minutes, participants will observe the sediment transport and deposition processes that shape the land naturally over hundreds or thousands of years. Among the structures participants may produce are tributaries, meanders, braided streams and deltas to name just a few. For an eye opening experience, participants can also simulate the consequences of catastrophic floods to the drainage basin.

Robots in Space

Following the Curiosity Rover's landing on Mars in 2012, the stage was set for increasing use of drone and robotic technology in space exploration. Guided by an expert from the Cernan Earth and Space Center at Triton College, visitors can operate LEGO® EV3 Robots to examine this connection while learning about what the future may hold.

Safe Sun Viewing

Our sun is an awesome sight, a dynamic, living body that changes unpredictably from day to day; however, it is well known that looking directly at the sun can cause permanent and serious damage to the eye's retina. Visit the sun viewing area for a chance to see the sun without risk to your vision.

Sci-Tech Museum

Participate in a variety of hands-on demonstrations focused on physics, math and logic, chemistry, earth science and more.

Seeds for Change: Restoring Illinois Prairies

While Illinois is known as the "Prairie State," less than 0.01 percent of the original 22 million acres of prairie that once existed here is still intact due to agricultural development, population growth and urbanization. Visitors will observe, process and plant prairie seeds and take home seedlings (as supplies last).

Smushy Science

Most people have heard of Deoxyribonucleic Acid but know it more commonly referred to as DNA. Providing an up-close and personal view of (DNA), this booth guides visitors through a simple process through which they will use household tools to extract, isolate, and observe the DNA of a strawberry in a matter of minutes.

Society of Women Engineers: Lego® Robots

Guided by representatives of the Society of Women Engineers, visitors can choose to assemble robots at two levels. Younger participants can learn basic robotic construction by assembling own bristle-bot from household items, while older participants with more time can learn more advanced robotics construction by assembling Lego® Robots.

3D Printing

Using cutting-edge technology, participants will learn how special file formats are converted to 3D objects using Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) printing techniques and will observe the creation of 3D printed objects from a sampling of print file options. In addition, visitors will learn about the history of 3D printing and the variety of 3D printing technologies available today.

3D Scanning

3D scanners examine real-world environments or objects and collect data on its shape and its appearance. The collected data is then used to create three dimensional models in a digital format. 3D scanning is utilized by a variety of users, including engineers, architects, designers, educators and consumers, in a broad range of industries including aerospace, civil engineering, consumer products, healthcare, manufacturing, power generation and much more. Through state-of-the-art technology, participants will learn how 3D objects are scanned into files compatible for 3D printing and view the creation of 3D imaging files from physical objects.

Traces of the Past

Providing evidence of long-past life forms and habitats preserved by natural processes, fossils can be the remains of a once living thing, such as bones or plants, or even remnants of biologic events such as dinosaur footprints or animal burrows in an ancient forest. Using modeling clay and seashells, participants will learn how some fossils form as a result of burial by sediment, the most common way fossils are formed.

Water Pollution: Causes and Solutions

Fresh water is one of our most vital resources and when our water is polluted it is devastating to both the environment and to human health. The U.S. relies on public water systems to treat and deliver just over 44 billion gallons of water each day to our homes, schools and businesses and much of this water comes from rivers, lakes and other surface water sources. Through a watershed model demonstration, visitors will learn how storm water runoff carries pollutants through the watershed to a pond, lake, river, bay, or ocean, and ways to mitigate the growing problem of water pollution.

Weather Balloon Launch

To kick off its 28th storm chasing season, the COD Meteorology program will launch a meteorological weather balloon at STEMCON. Visitors can view the launch and view real-time tracking as the balloon rises into the atmosphere while an attached radiosonde measures and transmits data on atmospheric conditions including humidity, temperature, wind speed and direction, dew point, barometric pressure and atmospheric density, as well as trajectory data such as latitude, longitude, altitude and flight path.

When Art and Science Meet

Representatives from Northwestern University discuss the intersection between Art and Science.

The Wonders of Wireless

Wireless networks use radio waves to connect devices such as laptops, mobile phones, printers and servers to the Internet, business networks and applications. Increasingly ubiquitous, wireless networks can provide increased affordability, convenience, mobility and productivity. Participants will learn the ins and outs of wireless networking and what is in store in the future.