Orpheum Museum: Fun House Art

ENVISION hosted an event on November 11, 2017 at the Orpheum Museum that used curvature to explore reflections and transformations. We had several hands-on activities where kids (and adults!) could learn about basic optics, math transformations, and art.

-Kids learned about how curvature can affect how light reflects

-Students tried to line up beans in a curved and straight line by using a curved reflection

-Attendees got to see how distorted images were corrected using a curved reflective surface.

Other activities included making anamorphic art and taking a picture in cartesian coordinates and transforming it into polar coordinates with a computer program. Thanks to all of our volunteers who helped out!

ECIRMAC Polymer Event

ENVISION partnered with ECIRMAC (East Central Illinois Refugee Mutual Assistance Center) to hold a polymer bouncy ball activity on November 11. Students learned about polymerization and examples of commonly used polymers, and made their own polymer bouncy balls.        

Static Electricity at CPL

ENVISION hosted an event at the Champaign Public Library on September 25 where students learned about how static electricity can be created/harnessed and how it interacts with everyday objects. There were several stations with activities ranging from racing aluminum cans,  waterbending with static, and a Van De Graff generator. The goal was the demonstrate properties of static electricity and charge-based interactions as a function of material.

Science at the Market: Polymers

ENVISION partnered with the Sing Group in the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering department to introduce kids to polymers.  We did three activities to demonstrate different aspects of polymers:

-Polymer simulations showed kids a basic idea of how polymers are made. They got to compete with each other to see who could make the longest polymer chain!


-Sodium polyacrylate is the super adsorbent polymer found in diapers, and kids got to see how different polymers can interact with water!


-Hot glue guns and letter molds were used to demonstrate how polymers are molded into different objects.


Urbana Middle School Math Camp Anamorphic Art

Event Title: Urbana Middle School Math Camp Anamorphic Art

Location: Urbana Middle School

Date: June 20, 2017

ENVISION hosted an Anamorphic Art Activity at Urbana Middle School’s summer math camp for 35 incoming 6th-8th grade students.

The activity used anamorphic art to investigate how pictures change in a curved mirror. The students created their own drawings, and transformed their drawings to another grid for anamorphic reflection. During the activity, students learned principles from optics, math and design.


Science at the Market: Paper Gears

ENVISION members hosted the Science at the Market booth at the Urbana Farmers Market on June 10th, where we made gear mechanisms out of paper. Students were able to make, play with, or take home pre-made kits of various gear mechanisms: Archimedes screw, shaker, and tooth and slot.

Thanks to the volunteers who helped us prepare the kits, and also to those who helped out on Saturday morning!


Booker T. Washington Family Engineering Fair

Envision partnered with student groups from UIUC, including Illinois Aerospace Outreach, ASME, and Pi Tau Sigma, to host the second annual Booker T. Washington Family Engineering Fair with the help of the faculty and PTA at the school! We had 135 people in attendance who participated in several hands-on scientific and engineering activities. Some of these activities included:

  • 3-D printing

  • Elephant toothpaste

  • Hydophobic water coasters

and other activities such as an Oobleck pool, balsa wood gliders, air cannons, ball runs, stomp rockets, and gumdrop domes!  Thanks to the 34 student volunteers who were instrumental in making this event happen!

I-STEM Live Symposium

In collaboration with the Principal Scholars Program (PSP), ENVISION hosted three hands-on breakout sessions at the I-STEM Live Conference. Over 40 middle school students from the Champaign-Urbana area came to Siebel Center and participated in three activities:

-Laser Obstacle Course: The students learned about light reflection by making an obstacle course with lasers and mirrors!


-Magnetic Slime: The students learned about polymers through making slime, and studied how adding iron oxide powder made the blob engulf magnets!


-Foldscopes and Bug Analysis: The students used Foldscopes (origami microscopes) to analyze crickets, mosquitoes, ticks and night crawlers!


Thank you to Dot Silverman and everyone at the CU Fab Lab who helped make the foldscopes!

Thank you to ENVISION members who volunteered and everyone in PSP who organized this amazing event!

BTW Family Engineering Night

Event Title: BTW Family Engineering Night

Location: Booker T. Washington Elementary, Champaign, IL

Date: November 29rd, 2016

The Family Engineering Night at Booker T. Washington (BTW) was a success! ENVISION partnered with BTW, ASME and Illinois Aerospace Outreach to plan a variety of engineering activities for students and their families to participate in.

These activities were

– Catapults

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– Arts & crafts (holiday decorations) with circuits

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– Fancopters

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– Wind turbine blade designs

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– Balancing robots

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– DNA Extraction and DNA origami

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The students (and parents!) learned a lot and more importantly, had a lot of fun doing science!

St. Elmo Brady STEM Academy Symposium

Event title: St. Elmo Brady STEM Academy Symposium

Location: Newmark Civil Engineering Builing, UIUC

Date: November 12, 2016

ENVISION hosted a station at the St. Elmo Brady STEM Academy Symposium for 4th and 5th graders from elementary schools in Urbana-Champaign, as well as a few students from the Chicago area.  The students learned about polymers by making bouncy balls out of glue, Borax, and water (and food coloring!).

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The students (and their parents) learned about how polymers are made out of small molecules called monomers, and how these polymers can be linked together with special chemicals called crosslinkers.  Students were able to figure out which of the ingredients in their bouncy balls was the polymer (the glue) and the crosslinker (Borax) and what would happen if you added in a lot of Borax or a lot of glue!

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