University of Minnesota

Flames, explosions and dancing bring 5,000 kids to campus for Energy and U shows May 19-23

May 19, 2014

Media Note: Members of the media should contact Rhonda Zurn at or Brooke Dillon at if planning to attend one of the shows to ensure that media permission slips are in place for that show. Shows are at 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. each day.

Explosions, flames, rock music and screaming gummy bears—they’re all part of a unique and fun University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering outreach program that aims to interest elementary school students in science.

With three shows a day this week for five days, more than 5,000 students from throughout the Twin Cities area are expected at May’s Energy and U shows. Due to space constraints, the shows are not open to the public.

About the show:

Everybody is talking about energy: What is it? Where do I get it? Where can I put it? The Energy and U shows literally blow the lid off these questions and highlight the many science and technology challenges that energy presents. Students learn about energy with an informative slide show set to music and demonstrations that include loud explosions, bright flashes, flames and a dance party!

The show also brings students to the University of Minnesota campus, and gives them the opportunity to meet some University professors.

"We try to emphasize that they, too, could do what we do every day," said Chemistry Professor David Blank, one of the creators of Energy and U and its director.

Energy and U shows focus on how energy can be stored and interconverted in many ways, and that chemical conversions play a key role.

"We teach kids that they cannot make or destroy energy, they can just change its form," said Blank.

Created in 2006, Energy and U is a specialized outreach program of the University of Minnesota's College of Science & Engineering (CSE) and its Department of Chemistry and Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science.

Outreach to schools with a high percentage of students of color and students receiving free or reduced-priced lunch—an indicator of poverty—is an important component of the Energy and U outreach efforts. The University of Minnesota Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC)  and a generous donation from Medtronic, Inc. offset bus transportation costs for participating schools. This outreach program is also supported by the university's Center for Sustainable Polymers.

Video highlights from past shows:

Twin Cities Campus: