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Flames, explosions and dancing bring 6,000 kids to campus for Energy and U shows May 18-22

Media Note:  Members of the media must contact Rhonda Zurn at rzurn@umn.edu or Lacey Nygard at ljnygard@umn.edu if planning to attend one of the shows to ensure that media permission slips are in place. Shows begin at 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. each day but due to space constraints, the shows are not open to the public.

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 for five days, more than 6,000 students from across 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 show literally blows the lid off these questions and highlights the many science and technology challenges that energy presents. Students learn about energy through demonstrations that include loud explosions, bright flashes, flames and a dance party!

This spring, the Energy and U shows are bigger and better than ever due to a new collaborative partnership with the University’s Department of Theatre Arts & Dance. The shows have moved to the larger Whiting Proscenium Theatre at the Rarig Center that can accommodate 400 students per show, about 100 more than Smith Hall auditorium used in the past. In addition, theatre students, faculty, and staff will provide professional-level sound, lighting, and music support. There will also be multiple large display screens to enhance visibility of the graphics used in the presentation. 

“We are excited about the opportunities this collaborative offers us to bring science and art together,” said Chemistry Professor David Blank, Energy and U director.

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 underrepresented students and students of poverty are important components of the Energy and U outreach efforts.

“Exciting the students about the idea of going to college and pursing a career in science and engineering is a top priority,” Blank said. 

Generous support from the University of Minnesota Materials Research Science and Engineering Center and the Center for Sustainable Polymers, Medtronic, and Schlumberger offset bus transportation costs for participating schools. Most schools would not be able to attend without this support. 

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