FUSE Engages Kids at Korea's Largest Science Festival

FUSE Engages Kids at Korea's Largest Science Festival


The FUSE high-tech drop-in program went international this summer by setting up a studio at the largest science festival in Korea. FUSE, developed by School of Education and Social Policy professors Kemi Jona and Reed Stevens, was designed to draw young people into science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) with highly motivating hands-on activities and a "leveling-up" format. 

FUSE has been showcasing skill-building activities in printing 3D designs, biotechnology and electronics at the popular Science and Creativity Festival in Ilsan, Korea, from July 30 to August 4. The FUSE studio is part of the World of Infinite Imagination area at the festival. 

The festival, sponsored by the Korea Foundation for Science and Creativity, provides an opportunity for people of all ages to take part in science, engineering, and technology activities. The festival features exhibitions of state-of the-art technologies and a wide variety of hands-on science programs, with presentations from 11 countries. Approximately 250,000 visitors attended the festival in 2012..

On the festival's opening day, the Korean Minister of Education and the heads of STEAM education visited the FUSE booth, and more than 250 kids visited the booth on that day as well. The FUSE team is also providing training to more than 60 elementary and secondary teachers in Korea on the FUSE model and challenge development.

The FUSE program works to build students’ skills by combining highly motivating activities with the kind of leveling-up platform used in video games. Challenges incorporate robotics, electronics, biomedical science, phone app development, sound mixing and architectural design. New style-themed challenges allow students to create designs for jewelry and cars with advanced software and to print those designs in 3D.  


FUSE challenges include the following:

  • Make a robot navigate an obstacle course
  • Create a unique phone ringtone
  • Design jewelry, glasses or cars and print them in 3D
  • Make a robot navigate an obstacle course
  • Combine LED lights to produce a rainbow
  • Build a music amplifier
  • Customize a mobile phone app
  • Build a light display
  • Build sensors to measure a vertical jump
  • Customize clothing to light up
  • Program a light display

During the school year, Northwestern’s Office of STEM Education Partnerships, directed by Jona, offers FUSE at libraries, schools and youth centers where students can drop in after school and on Saturdays for STEAM challenges. In Chicago this summer, FUSE was also part of the city’s Summer of Learning initiative, intended to infuse learning into summer programs that young people across the city attend.

FUSE meets at Chicago’s Harold Washington Library, Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy, Neal Math and Science Academy in North Chicago, Evanston Township and Wheeling high schools and the Teen Loft at the Evanston Public Library. The program is supported by the MacArthur Foundation.

The mission of Northwestern University’s Office of STEM Education Partnerships (OSEP) is to connect K-12 science learners to the world-class scientific and educational resources of Northwestern University. OSEP programs include professional development workshops for teachers, mentoring programs for teachers and students, inquiry-based STEM learning programs for students and partnership initiatives between Northwestern University and K-12 schools and other organizations. 

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 3/7/17