Welcome to ENVISION!.

Currents we have postponed any in-person volunteering events due to COVID-19 but will resume activities when it is safe to do so. To get involved, see our upcoming events page!

ENVISION PhD Students Use the Science of Breadmaking to Attract Franklin Eighth Graders to STEM

During fall 2020, four ENVISION members, Emil Annevelink, James Carpenter, Drew Kuhn, and Aleczandria Tiffany, did a Zoom outreach at Franklin STEAM Academy to continue helping students to learn about STEM projects even during the pandemic. ENVISION members described the science behind breadmaking and how to think critically about science. ENVISION president, Aleczandria Tiffany, described her experience during the event:

“I love seeing people of all ages get excited about science,” she admits. “I was especially interested in this outreach event because we had multiple days to interact with the students, so we got to show them our personalities and discuss what we do and why we love science and engineering.”

Illinois I-STEM has written a full-length article about this event and the students that volunteered. To check out the article, click here: ENVISION Fall 2020 Breadmaking event.

On March 5th, ENVISION partnered with Graduate Engineers Diversifying Illinois (GEDI), the Mechanical Science and Engineering Department (UIUC), and the UIUC chapter of National Society of Black Engineers for a night dedicated to hands-on STEM and Art activities. Elementary school students were able to get involved in hands-on activities in multiple STEM fields, from building and testing structures on an earthquake simulator, to making miniature volcanoes and learning about density through rainbow jars.

ENVISION members volunteered for the Teen Lounge at the Champaign Public Library this October 2019. ENVISION introduced 3D printing and using 3D printing pens to create 3D objects from 2D sketches.

The students explored the difference between freehand printing and making 2D templates to make 3D objects.

ENVISION partnered with Urbana Middle School’s SPLASH program in Spring 2019 again to introduce students to a variety of science topics.

Students created Borax Crystals to learn about phase change of materials.

Students created catapults and tested to see which catapult could launch a range of weights the furthest. They were provided circuit kits and learned how to assemble a variety of circuits in order to power fans, make music, etc. Finally, students built their own bridges and tested the stability of their structures with weights.

ENVISION partnered with Urbana Middle School’s SPLASH program in Fall 2018 to introduce students to a variety of science fields through interactive experiments.

Students used 3D pens to learn about 3D printing:


Students learned about the weather and atmospheric sciences by creating rain in a jar:


Students created structures and tested them on an earthquake simulator:


And students created parachutes for eggs to test in an egg drop test:

ENVISION partnered with the Principal Scholar Program (PSP) to welcome over a hundred middle school students to interact in three break-out sessions about circuitry, aerodynamics, and structures.

Students designed lie detector systems (forensic science/circuitry):

Students built marshmallow towers (structures):

And created paper planes (aerodynamics):

ENVISION had a busy Saturday in November! We spent the lunch hour with ECIRMAC making polymer bouncy balls.

We then transitioned to the Orpheum Children’s Museum where kids got to do several hands-on activities with Fun House Art. Check out more pictures and details on our Past Events page!

Our  Science at the Market booth was a blast, where kids got to learn about polymers and do some hands-on science!  Check out the Past Events page for more details!

Thanks to the volunteers who helped out at the mirror anamophosis workshop at Urbana Middle School!  Check out more pictures here!

Summer is in full swing, and we have an upcoming mirror anamorphosis workshop at Urbana Middle School on June 20th.  Head over to our Upcoming events page for more details and to sign up to volunteer! Our paper gear activity at the Urbana Farmer’s market was a blast!  Check out the Past Events page for more pictures!

Read about ENVISION’s most recent partnership with POETS, a NSF Research Center. Together, they hosted a “STEM Outreach: A Supplement to Your Research Skill Set” seminar for graduate students during the NSF site visit. The seminar gave students resources to help them get involved with outreach at their institutions, and involved a pizza solar oven competition. Read more about the event here: http://www.istem.illinois.edu/news/POETS.Grad.Outreach.html

The second annual Booker T. Washington’s Family Engineering Fair was another success!  Rain didn’t stop the students from having a blast learning about science doing hands-on activities.  Check out our Past Events page for more pictures and details!

Thanks to all of the volunteers who helped out at the I-STEM Live Symposium!  The students who participated had a blast doing hands-on science activities, and you can check out our Past Events page for more details!

Here are some comments from the students who participated:

The slime one was the best.
The laser things.
The interactive breakout sessions were the best.
I think everything was perfect.
I learned new things & getting to do hands on things.
The most important thing was listening to the adults teaching.
Following the rules and learning something new.
I learned more about science and computing.
I learned and tried new things.
Having FUN and learning new things
The most important part of the I-STEM Live Conference as talking to a mechanical engineer grad student.
Everything was Awesome!

A huge shout out to one of our members Dorothy Silverman and the CU Fab Lab for their help in developing the awesome DIY Microscopy Modules! Also, thank you to the volunteers who helped make the 30+ foldscopes and the ones who volunteered during the event at the Champaign Public Library!  The students had a blast! We look forward to the next iteration of this activity.  Check out our Past Events page for more details!

Thank you to all of our volunteers from last Saturday at the St. Elmo Brady STEM Symposium!  The kids had a great time at our station making homemade bouncy balls and learning about polymers!  Check out our Past Event page for more details!


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Thanks to everyone who helped out with the Kenwood Elementary Field Trip!  The students had a blast building superhydrophobic water roller coasters and learning how to program robots with Lego Mindstorm. Here is a note we received from one of their teachers:

Thank you all so much for volunteering your time and expertise last week for our students at Kenwood.  They are still talking about it!  We really appreciate the time you spent organizing and making sure our students had a meaningful, challenging, as well as empowering time with you all.  Attached is a photo ‘thank you’ our students would like to extend to you all.


Check out our Past Events page for more details!

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Do you have an idea for a STEM outreach activity? Leave us a comment and let us know how we can help!