The STEM Read Podcast: Math And Physics Are My Superpowers

Apr 21, 2021

In this episode of the STEM Read Podcast, host Gillian King-Cargile (@gkingcargile) gives you an encore excerpt from one of NIU’s Future Telling Webinars. These free events bring together great minds from the worlds of writing and STEM to explore bleeding-edge research and its impact on our society and our sci-fi. Our guests are author S.L. Huang and physicist Rebecca C. Thompson.

On this episode, host Gillian King-Cargile (@gkingcargile) explores the gene editing tool CRISPR, used to create the breakthrough mRNA vaccines for COVID-19. First, she talks with biographer Walter Isaacson (@WalterIsaacson), author of Leonardo da Vinci and Steve Jobs, about his new book The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race. The book chronicles the discoveries surrounding CRISPR and the brilliant scientists racing toward publications, patents, and prizes.

The STEM Read Podcast - Batman Is A Maker

Feb 12, 2021

From clever costumed superheroes to persistent little girls, makers come in all shapes and sizes. Host Gillian King-Cargile (@gkingcargile) will highlight new stories that focus on thinking, tinkering, and making. First, she’ll interview Ruth Spiro (@RuthSpiro), author of Made By Maxine and the Baby Loves Science series, about her latest book Maxine and the Greatest Garden Ever. The book explores the friendship between two very different makers who want to build, grow, and make the world a little more functional and fabulous.

STEM Café Explores The Science Behind Haunted Houses

Oct 28, 2020
Northern Illinois University

This year, Northern Illinois University is hosting a series of virtual STEM cafes. One of them, "The Psychology of Haunted Houses" will break down what it takes for "a good scare." 

Taking on this task are collaborators Paul Kassel, dean of the NIU College of Visual and Performing Arts, and Jim Langley, scene and lighting designer and retired theater professor. The two will focus on chemistry, lighting technology and the brain to explain how to make haunted houses more effective.

NIU STEMFest Virtual This Year

Oct 28, 2020
Northern Illinois University

Northern Illinois University’s STEMFest celebrates the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The annual event usually draws large crowds to the NIU Convocation Center. Not the 2020 edition. 

This year, STEMFest will culminate with a virtual celebration on October 31st from 10am to 2pm. 

STEMFest organizer Dr. Kristin Brynteson noted that the online platform allows visitors to customize their STEM experience.

Some people are complaining that COVID-19 is not the pandemic they signed up for. It was supposed to be Zombies!


On May 30, 2020, The United States launched a manned spacecraft into low-earth orbit for the first time in nine years. SpaceX is now the first private company to launch NASA astronauts into space from US soil. The astronauts are heading to the International Space Station. And how did this happen? With a whole lot of math. As we celebrate this historic flight that could be the next step in human exploration of the Moon and even Mars, we’re highlighting two women whose love of math took them on unexpected journeys of their own.

Peter Medlin

A group of teachers hold their phone in front of their faces. Using the camera they’re looking at the classroom they’re standing in...when suddenly a zombie appears. It warns they need to reach a safe house or they’ll be eaten alive.



 With that they face a series of locked doors. To open them and escape the undead’s grasp, they need to answer a series of vocabulary questions. Wait, what?


The Sound of Science - "Potholes"

Mar 8, 2019

K: Welcome to the Sound of Science on WNIJ. I'm Kate Powers.

J: And I'm Jeremy Benson.

K: Spencer asked why we have so many new pot holes each spring. Jeremy, what's going on with the roads in the spring?

J: It all starts long before spring, Kate. Water is great at getting into every crack or crevice in anything, right?

K: Yes…

The Sound of Science - "Gold"

Feb 22, 2019

K: I’m Kate Powers from NIU STEM Outreach here in the studio with Sam Watt and this is the Sound of Science.

S: Kate, I have a question from Colton today. He is wondering why you have to polish silver but not gold?

K: Yeah gold is pretty amazing. Colton is right, gold doesn’t tarnish like other metals. Before we talk about gold, though, we should talk about what is happening when a metal tarnishes. 

S: Well, I know silver turns black when it tarnishes. What other metals tarnish?

The Sound of Science - "Why Does E=mc2?"

Feb 8, 2019

Jeremy:  Greetings, I’m Jeremy from NIU STEAM.

Sam: And I’m Sam, and this is the Sound of Science on WNIJ.

Jeremy:  Today’s question was asked by Hunang from Orland Park.

Hunang: I'm Hunang, I am from Orland Park and I would like to know, why does E=mc2? 

Sam:  That’s a great question, and one we should be able to answer relatively easily. Get it, relativity?

The Sound of Science - "Extinct Humans"

Feb 1, 2019

Sam: Welcome to the Sound of Science on WNIJ. I’m Sam from NIU STEAM.

Jeremy: And I’m Jeremy! Today we have a question from Maddy.

Maddy: I'm Maddie from Fox River Grove, and I would like to know what would happen if all of humanity went extinct? 

Jeremy: Great question Maddy! Sam, what are your thoughts on the extinction of our species? What would happen?

The Sound of Science - "Becoming a Scientist"

Jan 25, 2019

Jeremy: Welcome to the Sound of Science on WNIJ. I’m Jeremy.

Kate: And I’m Kate. We’re here from NIU STEAM to answer your questions about anything to do with science, technology, engineering, and math.

K: Today’s question comes from Judy from Chicago. 

[How does someone become a scientist?]

J: Kate, before you joined NIU STEAM, weren’t you a researcher in a chemical lab? How did you become a scientist?

The Sound of Science - "Fruitcake"

Jan 18, 2019

J: I’m Jeremy Benson from NIU STEM Outreach and I’m in the studio with Kate Powers. This is the Sound of Science on WNIJ.

K: Jeremy, I hear you have a question from Lizzy today. 

J: Yes, Lizzy is concerned that her mom is still eating fruitcake from Christmas. She wants to know if that fruitcake is too old to eat, but I’ve heard stories about really old fruitcakes before. I just figured fruitcakes last a long time because nobody likes them.