Saturday STEM (Grades K – 8)

Fall 2023 Saturday Programs

Modeling Mayhem

January 27, 2024 | 9:30 AM – 12:00 PM CST | Aurora-IMSA Campus

They say "the world is our playground" and one can make the case that there is no playground activity quite as iconic and exhilarating as going on a swingset and trying your best to swing straight to the stars! In this Modeling Mayhem activity, our playground engineers will be investigating the physics of swinging and the effects of different variables on swinging motion (a.k.a. pendulums.) Participants will then be able to create their very own model swingset! Will they create a giant swingset with a full fleet of swings or perhaps a full-on amusement park pendulum ride that can twirl passengers in a full circular path? We can’t wait to see what marvelous models our creative engineers will create!
Register Now for this Program in Aurora
Apply Now for a Financial Needs-Based Scholarship*

How do engineering and science apply to a simple game of skee-ball? With all the technology taking over the gaming industry, we need to SAVE Skee-ball, a classic and super fun arcade game!! In this Modeling Mayhem activity, students will experience the engineering design process and explore physics principles as they create their very own model of a skee-ball game! Come have a BALL and put your own SPIN on how Skee-ball is built and played!
Register Now for this Program in Aurora
Apply Now for a Financial Needs-Based Scholarship*

Jellyfish are beautiful and mysterious ocean creatures. They have no bones, no brain, no heart, and no eyes. They have clear, bag-like bodies that contain their digestive organs and have trailing tentacles that are used to sting and capture prey. Interestingly, about 50% of all jellyfish are bioluminescent. During this session, our bioengineers will explore these interesting anatomical features by creating their own model of a bioluminescent jellyfish (which actually does glow in the dark)! Then they will design some experiments to test one or more common ideas about bioluminescence.
Register Now for this Program in Aurora
Apply Now for a Financial Needs-Based Scholarship*

Out of This World (Space)

December 9th, 2023 | 9:30 AM – 12:00 PM CST | Aurora-IMSA Campus

Grades K-2 (NEW!) – Mission: Outer Space

This fall, we’re aiming for outer space! In this K-2 Saturday STEM, our young space enthusiasts will learn about our mysterious and magical universe as they investigate our solar system — from the stars to the planets. Students will discover what we know, what we’re learning, and where we fit into our universe through some fun and informative musical and literary explorations. Then, students will build their very own model of a gas giant (Saturn, Neptune, Jupiter, or Uranus), which will double as an interesting sensory experience for them to bring home. Join us today, because SPACE is limited!

Grades 3-4 – Cosmic Encounters

Outer space is vast and absolutely fascinating! In this Saturday STEM, participants will explore a variety of astronomical phenomena and technology, including the planets within our solar system, telescopes, comets, and meteors. Students will build models of a comet or meteor and create their own space bracelet or keychain featuring every planet. Additionally, students will investigate how telescopes work and take a quick “virtual tour” of space with actual telescope footage of select celestial bodies. Along the way, our budding astronomers will discover some underlying STEM principles that help us study and understand our universe!

Grades 5-6 – Astronaut Suit-Up

The importance of a spacesuit cannot be understated as they are literally what keeps astronauts alive in the extreme conditions of outer space where temperatures can range anywhere from -270.45°C (-455°F) to thousands or millions of degrees if you get too close to the Sun! In this Saturday STEM, participants will get the chance to explore the concepts of heat transfer and insulation in order to better understand the types of material choices that should be used to make the most protective space suit possible. The budding aerospace engineers will then be challenged to put their newly discovered knowledge to the test by making a pair of their own space gloves with the ability to protect them from the extreme temperatures of outer space – (or at least the range of temperatures they might experience in their own kitchens/around the house…)

Grades 7-8 – Bending the Boundaries: Flexible Structures in Space

A myriad of engineers are tasked with solving an array of problems common to crewed spacecraft. From secure docking among spacecraft on active missions in outer space to safe landing aspects of a given spaceflight’s return to Earth, there is no shortage of engineering conundrums to solve! In this Saturday STEM, our aspiring mechanical engineers will build flexible structures to explore the processes and challenges of docking (connecting) different vehicles in space. In addition, students will investigate the relationship between time and impact force, as they design a functional seat for the Artemis lunar lander — such a seat should be designed to protect astronauts during a rough landing. Don’t miss your chance to collaborate with your fellow space enthusiasts and compete for the honor of solving these intricate challenges using a combination of conceptual physics and hands-on engineering.

School Year: 2023-2024SessionModalityDatesTimeCostRegistration
Grades K-2 (NEW!) Mission: Outer SpaceIn-person @ IMSA12/9/239:30 AM - 12:00 PM CST$55Closed
Grades 3-4Cosmic EncountersIn-person @ IMSA12/9/239:30 AM - 12:00 PM CST$55Closed
Grades 5-6Astronaut Suit-UpIn-person @ IMSA12/9/239:30 AM - 12:00 PM CST$55Closed
Grades 7-8Bending the Boundaries: Flexible Structures in SpaceIn-person @ IMSA12/9/239:30 AM - 12:00 PM CST$55Closed

Digging Deeper (Dissections)

November 11th, 2023 | 9:30 AM – 12:00 PM CST | Aurora-IMSA Campus

November 18th, 2023 | 9:30 AM – 12:00 PM CST | BelleValley School, Belleville IL

All living things produce waste. In this workshop, students will explore the unique characteristics of different types of animal waste while also considering why it is so important to eliminate waste products from the body. They will get their hands dirty by dissecting an owl pellet–a unique type of waste product that owls produce by regurgitating indigestible animal remains–to unravel the mystery of an owl’s diet. Participants are required to wear closed-toed shoes for this activity.

What is in an eye? Students will explore the visual systems of mammals through the dissection of a cow eye. Identifying various cow eye structures, they will discover how the cow eye compares to a human eye. By discovering where their sense of sight comes from, participants will begin to appreciate the little things in our eyes which help us to see the world and create their very own model of an eye. Participants are required to wear closed-toed shoes for this activity.

The brain is the control center of the body, but how does it look and function? Are there substances that impact the function of the brain? What can pass into this sensitive organ and what is kept out?  Participants will explore this fascinating organ by dissecting a sheep’s brain. Also, as an introduction to brain anatomy and physiology, students will create and test models of the blood-brain barrier. Participants are required to wear closed-toed shoes for this activity.

Vampires may be the mythical creatures of our nightmares, but they are not the only creatures to gorge on blood! Blood is an ideal meal source for predators in a variety of habitats because it consists mostly of protein and water. Lamprey are a group of parasitic fish that prey on cold-blooded organisms and are native to the northern and western Atlantic Ocean. Come dissect a sea lamprey to discover how their special anatomy makes blood a perfect meal. Afterward, we’ll experiment with (fake) blood to learn about the interesting properties of real blood!

*Applying and qualifying for a scholarship does not guarantee an award or registration into the program. To qualify for a scholarship, the student’s family is required to submit proof of financial eligibility: if you qualify for SNAP or Free/Reduced lunch, you qualify, but we need you to submit proof of eligibility. If you do not have a form in your possession or have difficulty getting it from your school or IDHS, you may submit a screenshot showing eligibility. Please contact us at if you have difficulty with this requirement. Alternatively, a 2021 or 2022  federal tax return showing proof of family income may be submitted.

  • Scholarships are awarded on a rolling basis, so it is to your benefit to submit all supplemental forms as soon as possible.
  • WATCH YOUR EMAIL and CHECK YOUR SPAM FOLDER! Award recipients will be notified via email and must reply to the scholarship offers within the time period indicated in the email.
  • NOTE: You may choose to either pay for program registration OR apply for a scholarship and await award notification. Your scholarship application will not be considered if you also complete a paid registration.

No requests for a registration cancellation/refund will be accepted for all in-person Saturday STEM programming.