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STEM Events

On-Campus Event Highlights

2014-2015 STEM Speaker Series

"Innovation through Contemplation: the value of practicing Mindful Engineering"
Wed., Sept. 10 from 1:00p to 2:00p in Room 1604 Des Plaines
Joseph J. Holtgreive, Lecturer, Assistant Dean, and Director of the McCormick Office of Personal Development at Northwestern University

In addition to advising students through his leadership of the Office of Personal Development, Joe is an educator, counselor, and trained mediator. Joe has collaborated with colleagues across campus to create and deliver curriculum on mindfulness, emotional intelligence, and design thinking. Joe is also an inventor and coaches students on innovation and entrepreneurship. Joe is an industrial engineering graduate of Northwestern University and holds a EdM from Harvard University's School of Education. Joe works in partnership with Thinking Within as a collaborator and educator.

"The Role of Chemist in the Pharmaceutical Industry"
Tue., Oct. 7 from 1:00p to 2:00p in Room 1506 Des Plaines
John Albazi, Ph.D., Chemistry Department Chair and Professor, Northeastern Illinois University

Chemists play a vital role in drug development. Learn how they help ensure high quality drugs and medication through high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), a technique used in labs to separate components in a mixture and establish precise dosage. Get the inside scoop on the experience you’ll need to pursue a rewarding career as a pharmaceutical chemist. 

Two-Days Workshop on "Introduction to Robotics for Girls only"
Sat., Oct. 18 and Nov. 1 from 9:00a to 12:00p in Room 1550 Des Plaines
Spaces are limited. Registration is required.

" 2  and the Devil in Music"
Tue. in October 28, 2014 at 1pm in Room 1625 Des Plaines
Eugenia Cheng, Ph.D., Senior Lecturer of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Scheffield and Visiting Professor of Mathematics, University of Chicago

The square root of 2 is one of the great conundrums of mathematics. It's so easy to describe but so difficult to pin down. You can run into it by accident just by folding a square in half, but what actually is it? We know it can’t be expressed as a fraction, and that its decimal expansion goes on and on forever without ever repeating itself. That is to say, it is an irrational number, a type of number that seemed to exist with anyone really knowing how for thousands of years.

The devil in music or “diabolus in musica” is the tritone, and it acquired this nickname because it is the most dissonant of all intervals.

In this presentation Cheng will weave together these two stories. With demonstrations on the piano and violin, Cheng will explain the mathematics behind harmonics, tuning, resonance and dissonance. We will see how mathematical understanding of irrational numbers leads to the well-tempered tuning system that inspired Bach to write preludes and fugues in every key (twice), and we'll see how it is  2  itself that gives rise to the devil in music.

Dr Eugenia Cheng is a mathematician and pianist who is currently a visiting faculty member in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Chicago while on sabbatical from her tenured position at the University of Sheffield, UK. Her research is in Higher- Dimensional Category Theory, a branch of “very” abstract algebra. As a pianist, she performs regularly both in Chicago and in the UK. She has recently performed at PianoforteChicago, Mayne Stage, the Hyde Park Salon, and the University of Chicago Teatime Series, and her next concert is with the Vox 3 collective, commemorating Strauss and Gluck at the Dankhaus. She is the founder of the Liederstube, an intimate oasis for art song in the Fine Arts Building, Chicago.

Eugenia is a strong believer in bringing math to a wider audience and breaking down stereotypes surrounding mathematics and mathematicians. She was an early pioneer of mathematics on YouTube, and her short math videos have now been viewed over 800,000 times. Her media work includes television and radio interviews with the BBC, Sky New, ABC (Australia) and CBC (Canada). Her first popular math book How to Bake π will be published by Basic Books in May. For more information see or follow DrEugeniaCheng on Twitter.

College Math Competition
DATE CHANGE Mon., Oct. 27 from 2:00p to 4:00p in Room 1604 & 1606 Des Plaines and Room P103 Skokie

Oakton students are welcome to participate in this one-hour competition. The level of competition questions is precalculus mathematics. Questions are from a standard syllabus in College Algebra and Trigonometry and may involve precalculus algebra, trigonometry, synthetic and analytic geometry, and probability; questions that are completely self-contained may be included as well. All questions are short-answer or multiple choice (multiple choice questions will have at least 4 response choices). No partial credit is awarded. Each student who participates in the competition will receive a certificate of participation. To be eligible for an Oakton award, a student must enroll in a credit course.

Students are permitted to use any scientific or graphics calculator that does not have a QWERTY (i.e. typewriter) keyboard. No books, mathematical tables, computers or questions are permitted during the test.

At the discretion of the moderator, students arriving before the end of the first hour may be allowed one full hour. Students who have classes until 2:50pm may be admitted at 3:00pm. The earliest time that a student can leave the competition room is 3:05pm.

The administration of this math competition shall comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act in accordance with Oakton procedures. Please contact Dorota Zak at by Oct. 20, 2014 if you require accommodations.
Sample tests may be found at AMATYC Math League.

The top five contestants from Oakton who participated in both fall and spring semester competitions will automatically be entered into the national competition for an AMATYC scholarship. See AMATYC SML Rules for entry into national competition and award details.

For additional information about this competition at Oakton, contact Dorota Zak at

STEM Speaker Series sponsored by the Center for Promoting STEM and Oakton Student Government Association.

American Mathematics Contest
AMC 8 - Tue., Nov. 18, 2014 at 4:30pm

Register here by October 25, 2014. After October 25, contact Gloria Liu at for availability.

8th Annual Conference for Promoting STEM for Educators
Nov. 14, 2014 at 8:30am to 5:00pm

Contact Gloria Liu at for a copy of the powerpoint presentation.

College Math Competition Award Ceremony
Tue., Dec. 2 from 2:00p to 3:00p in Room 1625 Des Plaines

Guest Speaker: Brad Wright, M.D., Ph.D., medical resident at the University of Utah

"The Incredible Shrinking Brain: Normal Aging, Alzheimer's Disease, and Neuroimaging"

The human brain shrinks as we grow old.  This atrophy happens in normal healthy aging and in various forms of dementia such as Alzheimer disease and frontotemporal dementia.  Can different patterns of brain atrophy be used for the diagnosis and prognosis of dementia?  Traditionally Alzheimer disease and other dementias have been diagnosed with a clinical exam and confirmed only after death with an autopsy of the brain.  In recent years, increasingly sophisticated neuroimaging and biochemical tools - such as FDG-PET, amyloid PET imaging, and quantitative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) - have been developed as potential biomarkers of dementia.  Biomarkers based on MRI are particularly attractive because MRI scans are widely available and noninvasive, and already routinely included in the workup of dementia.  Our research and other studies have shown that quantitative MRI analysis can detect different patterns of brain atrophy and potentially increase the accuracy of clinical diagnosis.  MRI may even be able to make predictions about the future, i.e., whether a patient with mild memory problems will eventually progress to Alzheimer disease. 

STEM Students Symposium
Tue., Dec. 9 from 3:00p to 5:00p in Room 1550 Des Plaines
Wed., Dec. 10 from 2:30p to 5:00p in Room 1550 Des Plaines

Oakton students present about their findings in STEM research projects. To help us order enough refreshments, register here.

USA Science +  Engineering Festival at Oakton

tentatively Sat., Apr. 26, 2015

Open Session from 10:00a to 2:30p in Rooms 1608 and 1610 Des Plaines

Representing companies and organizations include IEEE, Working Bikes, Civil Air Patrol, IDOT, After School Matters Robotics, American Nuclear Society, Optoelectronic Society, Society of Structural Engineers, and Society of Women Engineers

90-Minutes Hands-on Workshops from 9:00a to 12:15p, RSVP required by Apr. 20, Check-in at 8:45a Room 1610 Des Plaines

Topics TBA

Complete STEM-related activities may be found online.

Many Thanks to:

Oakton's Student Government Association who voted to support the 2013-2014 STEM Lecture Series. This will allow CP-STEM to bring STEM speakers to campus and offer hands-on workshops.

Oakton's Educational Foundation who awarded the Center for Promoting STEM a grant in 2013-2014 to provide an internship stipend to students who successfully complete STEM research course, present their findings, and spend a minimum number of hours on the project.

10/29/2014 - Study Skills (Skokie)

Attending class is the easy part. Now, you need to absorb and retain all that knowledge! Master key study skills– from note taking and highlighting to annotating and critical reading.

11/01/2014 - Introduction to Robotics for Girls only

Join us on two Saturday mornings (Oct. 18 and Nov. 1). This workshop is for girls only. Registration is required. To register, go to Type "robotics," and select "Introduction for Robotics for Girls Only."

11/14/2014 - Conference for Promoting STEM

Registration is required. $30 on or before Nov. 7. $35 after Nov. 7 .

11/18/2014 - American Mathematics Contest (AMC 8)

For 8th grade and younger. Registration is required. Space is guaranteed if registered on or before October 25. After October 25, space is available on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information and to register go to Sponsored by the Mathematics Department, Recruitment and Outreach, and the Center for Promoting STEM.

12/02/2014 - Math Competition Award Ceremony

Guest Speaker: Brad Wright, M.D., Ph.D., medical resident at the University of Utah. "The Incredible Shrinking Brain: Normal Aging, Alzheimer's Disease, and Neuroimaging"

12/09/2014 - STEM Students Symposium

Students present findings from their research on a science, technology, engineering, and/or math topic. Day 2 of the Symposium is Wed., Dec. 10o frm 2:30 to 5 p.m.

12/09/2014 - STEM Students Symposium

Students present findings from their research on a science, technology, engineering, and/or math topic.

12/10/2014 - STEM Students Symposium Day 2

Students present findings from their research on a science, technology, engineering, and/or math topic.

Contact STEM

Joe Kotowski
Director, Center for Promoting STEM
Professor, Mechanical Design & Mathematics
Room B231, Skokie
Gloria Liu
Coordinator & Co-Director, Center for Promoting STEM
Room 2166, Des Plaines
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