STEM Resources for K-12 Students and Families

Current Opportunities

Homeschool Physics Thursdays

The UNI Physics Department invites interested high school-aged homeschooling students to participate in a series of hands-on physics activities during the Spring 2023 semester. Activities are conducted in one of our studio lab spaces within Begeman Hall, and emphasize hands-on data collection, analysis, and representation.  The Homeschool Physics Thursdays Club is open to area high school aged students.  In Spring 2023, the group will form an Iowa Physics Competition Team and prepare to compete in this statewide event on Tuesday, April 11.  Learn more and apply here.  


High School Apprentice Program - Deadline to Apply is February 28!

UNI is seeking applications for our AEOP High School Apprentice Program.  High School Apprentices are paired with a faculty member over the summer and complete a research project.  This program is free and the students earn a stipend for completion.  Learn more below!  


UNI STEM Camps Logo - line drawings of many different tools and symbols of STEM forming a diamond around "STEM Camps".UNI STEM Camps

UNI STEM Camps provide local youth with exciting and fun opportunities to expand their science, technology, engineering, and mathematics knowledge and skills while making new friends.  Please see our STEM camp policies page for additional information.

Summer Daycamp information is generally available beginning in March.  Please see our STEM camp policies page for additional information about camp policies, including our refund policy.


Army Education and Outreach Program (AEOP) LogoHigh School Apprentice Program

We are excited to announce that our summer high school apprentice program, funded by the Army Educational Outreach Program (AEOP) will return for summer 2023! 

The High School Apprentice Program brings underserved high school students to college campuses for summer STEM research opportunities.  These 9th to 12th grade students join research teams in a variety of labs across campus. Apprentices work on real-world STEM research with UNI faculty, develop research and communication skills, and network during their 8-week program.  Learn more by reading past Apprentice research posters, projects are published to the  UNI REAP Apprentice Scholarworks collection

Apply to become a 2023 AEOP Apprentice at the University of Northern Iowa between December 23 and February 28.  Applications are collected at the national level - be sure to select UNI in Cedar Falls, Iowa as your preffered site!

Summer 2023 Research Opportunities

UNI will have AEOP Apprenticeship Positions available in the Biology, Physics, and Chemistry & Biochemistry departments.  Applicants may request to be considered in a specific lab and/or describe their own interests and the selection committee will match successful candidates to the appropriate lab.  The more a student shares about their own experience and interest, the better chance they will be placed in a lab.  Possible labs for 2023 include but are not limited to:

Astrobiology Underground Lab in Chemistry and Biochemistry; This lab works with park conservationists and NASA to conduct research in cave systems as an analog to space environments and to provide guidance for cave conservation.   Dr. Sebree is carrying out multiple chemical studies in caves as they relate to other planets. This will be a fieldwork heavy opportunity that will include exploring several of Iowa's and South Dakota's most pristine subterranean areas with the possibility of camping at the research sites. It is recommended to review some of the films at prior to applying. The applicant must physically fit, be able to climb a 90 ft ladder, and not be claustrophobic.  Camping gear and travel from campus to the study locations will be provided for this apprentice during field trips.  

Condensed Matter Physics research Research with Dr. Tim Kidd and/or Dr. Andrew Stollenwerk.  Dr. Kidd's research focus is on modifying materials to enhance their potential for use in novel electronics, alternative energy, and nanoscale devices. His research labs contain extensive facilities including scanning electron, optical and atomic force microscopes, ultra high vacuum systems, and other equipment for the creation and study of nanoscale materials.  Dr. Stollenwerk focusing primarily on surfaces and low dimensional material systems.  Results from his research are potentially applicable in electronic devices, sensors, and sources of alternative energy. The electrical and structural properties of these materials are studied using a variety of techniques such as scanning tunneling microscopy and ballistic electron emission microscopy. 

Biology research labs focus primarily on plant and animal conservation topics, including field research.  Medical topics are also a possibility in both Biology and Chemistry.

Program Requirements

Apprentices must:
  • Be entering 9th through 12th grades in Fall 2023.  
  • Have their own transportation to campus (parking pass will be provided free of charge for those who drive themselves or for a parent/guardian; UNI is on the purple bus line)
  • Have their own local housing. Campus housing is not available as an option for apprentices.
  • All Chemistry/Biochemistry apprentices must have completed at least Algebra I and some of the UNI Chemistry labs require apprentices to be aged 16 by June 12, 2023.
  • Astrobiology Underground Apprentice will participate in field trips to Midwest caves as a part of the apprenticeship and must be able to climb a 90 ft ladder and not be claustrophobic.
  • Be available to attend orientation on the evening of Tuesday, May 23, the poster symposium on Friday, July 28 and able to commit 215 hours to their apprentice between those dates.
  • Apprentices must meet the AEOP definition of doubly underserved in STEM. (see below)
  • Preference will be given to participants with a demonstrated interest in STEM fields as shown through their application essays and coursework.

Applicants qualifying as underserved must meet two or more of the criteria listed below:

  • Student qualifies for free or reduced lunch/ is low income
  • Student is a minority historically underrepresented in STEM (Alaskan Native, Native American, Black or African American, Hispanic, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander)
  • Student who identifies as female pursuing research in physical science, computer science, mathematics, or engineering.
  • Student attends a rural, frontier, or Title I school (per NCES data)
  • English is a second language for the student
  • Student has a disability (including learning disability)
  • Student is a potential first-generation college student (parents did not attend college)
  • A dependent of a military service member or veteran.



Lights, Action, Magic Camper taking a selfie with our Future STEM Panther prop - a cartoon panther with cutout space for a face.

Future STEM Panthers

The UNI Future STEM Panthers is a virtual club open to K-12 grade students who have attended a STEM event on campus. STEM Panthers receive periodic electronic newsletters with information about upcoming campus events for students and families, profiles of undergraduates, and other stories to keep them connected to UNI and help support their future STEM career experiences.

 Join the Future STEM Panthers.  The Future STEM Panthers Newsletter is powered by MailChimp. An unsubscribe button is available on each Future STEM Panther electronic newsletter. Newsletters arrive approximately quarterly.




Annual STEM Events for Iowa Youth

Sunday at the Quarry

Sunday at the Quarry participants collecting fossils and identifying with help of mentors from BMG. Photo by Marcy Seavey.

Halloween House

UNI Chemistry Students leading the specialty show - Pirate's Cove - a crew of smart pirates use science to create and protect a treasure.  Photo by Marcy Seavey.
Annually First Sunday in October
11:00 AM-4:00 PM

Rock, mineral, fossil collecting, quarry field trips, programs by Geological Surveys, UNI Earth and Environmental Science Department Faculty and Emeritus Faculty, Soil and Water District, Black Hawk Gem & Mineral Club, Iowa Flood Center, Iowa Waste Reduction Center, Middle Cedar River Watershed Management Authority, University of Iowa Mobile Museum and much more!

Sunday at the Quarry is a fun way to spend an afternoon; it is FREE and a great experience for all ages. Individuals, Families, school groups, scout groups, and groups of all ages-something for everyone! A great way to start Earth Science Week! Sponsored by BMC Aggregates.

The UNI Student Chapter of the American Chemical Society (ACS), in collaboration with students from the Departments of Biology, Physics, and Earth Science, hosts an annual Halloween House generally on the Friday before Halloween (see link or Facebook Event for specifics).  Halloween House takes place on the second floor of McCollum Science Hall.  UNI students perform Halloween-themed science demonstrations and supervise hands-on activities in rooms such as the Pirates’ Cove, Frankenstein’s Lab, Dirt Discoveries, and Milkyway Madness. 

FREE and open to the public, this event provides a fun introduction to the sciences for people of all ages.  Individual room doors include warnings if the activity inside includes loud noises, turning out the lights, and other warnings to make the event welcoming and inclusive to all.  Best of all this is a student led campus event!  Thank you UNI students!

Expanding Your Horizons

Group photo from an Expanding Your Horizons Day.

FRC Iowa Regional

2019 Alliance selection photo - team captains come down to the field, in McLeod Center, and select the teams they will play with for Semi-finals and finals.

Expanding Your Horizons or EYH, is an annual Society of Women Engineers (SWE) event sponsored locally by the Society of Women Engineers - Cedar Valley Section and UNI STEM.  This event brings 150 5th to 8th grade girls to campus for a day to participate in small group activities about STEM careers.  The majority of sessions are facilitated by women professional engineers and scientists.  Hosting the event on campus allows use of laboratories, the Metal Casting Center and other specialized spaces.  Registration is required.  The registration fee covers a bag, t-shirt, and lunch for each participant.  Learn more at the Cedar Valley EYH page

FIRSTTM Robotics Competition (FRC) Iowa Regional takes place in the McLeod Center and the Dome.  This event brings together 40-60 high school robotics teams for 3-days each spring.  Teams design, build, and program their robots from scratch.  The game and theme changes every year! 

Cedar Valley families are encouraged to attend.  Learn more about attending the event as a visitor.  Visit the Iowa FRC Website to learn more about FIRST.


Physics Competition

Soda Straw arm is a timed engineering event.  Given limited resources, teams must construct the longest arm possible without crimping straws or dropping the weight.  Here an arm is being tested.

A state-wide competition for high school teams, Physics Competition includes multiple individual events.  Some events require teams to pre-build a vehicle, structure, or tool while others are completed completely at the event.  A school may choose to compete in any number of events from one to all. Learn more.    


STEM Websites

About STEM Careers

O*NET STEM Career Search - provides detailed information about hundreds of STEM fields. Green careers and growing careers are easy to identify (green leaf, yellow sun). Learn about the every day tasks, technology and tools used, required knowledge and skills, and much more about each career. O*NET is a great site to begin a career search; each career is linked to related careers and is described in detail. O*NET's data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.


Student and Family Events