- Associated Press - Thursday, February 16, 2017

DEKALB, Ill. (AP) - Amelia Weingarz, 8, couldn’t think of anything she’d rather do on a weekend than program her own droid, marvel at 3-D images through a hologram projector and create her very own lightsaber.

Amelia was among the students who learned all about the science behind the “Star Wars” films at a recent Northern Illinois University STEM Outreach program STEM Saturday class.

“We programmed our robot, and it could go around in infinite circles,” said Amelia, a second-grader at North Grove Elementary School in Sycamore. “I’ve always done lots of STEM things, and I like ‘Star Wars.’ I’m having such a great time, and I can’t wait to build and design the light saber.”

Amelia was one of 20 children who attended the sold-out class on Jan. 28. STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and math, and NIU’s STEM Outreach program offers several classes throughout the year. The “Star Wars” theme made this class one of the best-attended, STEM educator Jeremy Benson said.

“‘Star Wars’ is a big thing culturally right now. Everyone loves ‘Star Wars,’ and we’re using the allure of it to get kids thinking about STEM fields,” Benson said. “There are a lot of emerging jobs in STEM fields, and it’s a good idea to be literate of science and technology in general. Having a basic understanding of how things work is a responsibility for all of us.



“Kids need to be ready to operate in a world where there will be even more technology.”

Adam Hearnsberger, 10, was curious to learn about robots and how they worked in the “Star Wars” movies. The home-schooled fifth-grader said he likes being able to make his own droid work.

“I really like science. I find it interesting to learn how stuff works,” Adam said. “I’ve never made a hologram before, and I’m really excited to do that.”

Vincent Tripoli, 9, had attended other STEM Saturday classes, but he was really looking forward to this one because he’s such a big fan of “Star Wars.”

“I like mechanical things because you can program them and make them move and grab things,” said Vincent, a third-grader at Southeast Elementary School in Sycamore. “I wanted to learn how the robots in the movie were made, and I’m having a lot of fun today.”

Joseph Brown, 8, of DeKalb already knows he wants to be an engineer someday. The second-grader at Brooks Elementary School said the Jan. 28 class was his third STEM class, and it already was his favorite.

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Source: The (DeKalb) Daily Chronicle, https://bit.ly/2jERCDM

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This story has been corrected to indicate that the event took place Jan. 28 instead of Saturday.

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Information from: The Daily Chronicle, https://www.daily-chronicle.com

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