NIU STEMfest Introduces Low-Sensory Hour

Oct 26, 2018

NIU student Izzy Johnson practices an experiment for STEMfest.
Credit Northern Illinois University

Northern Illinois University’s STEMfest is working to be more inclusive this year.

The annual event takes place at NIU's Convocation Center. It features scientific demonstrations, intricate displays, and STEM experts scattered across the large space.  But it’s often a loud, crowded show.  NIU STEM educator Sam Watt says they’re trying to expand access to the event with a low-sensory hour.

"Low sensory hour would be a time for us to turn the lights down, reduce the sound, and just kind of calm it down for those who have sensory disorders," he said.

This applies to some people on the autism spectrum, as well as those with visual or auditory conditions. Watt says parents have expressed their appreciation for this “quiet time.”

“We get a lot of people saying “Finally, I can bring my kid to something that’s not going to overwhelm them."”

The quiet hour takes place from 4-5 p.m. during STEMfest on Oct. 27th.  The event itself runs from 10-5 p.m.