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Department of Chemistry, University of Minnesota

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The Energy and U Show

Starting with the simple idea of getting elementary students excited about science and engineering, the Energy and U Show has developed into a semi-annual event bringing more than 10,000 students to the University of Minnesota campus. Each show is performed by a faculty member from the College of Science and Engineering. There are numerous explosions and bright flashes along with music that gets the students and professors dancing. The majority of the demonstrations involve student volunteers from the audience. With the primary goal of exciting the students about the idea of going to college and pursuing a career in science and engineering, there is also an underlying message concerning the first law of thermodynamics, the scale of world energy use, and the significant energy challenges that we face. The students erupt when we ignite a six foot column of methane filled suds; jump out of their chairs and dance in the lesson that energy is the ability to do work; recoil and then cheer after a large hydrogen explosion; and yell "NO" when asked at the end of the show 1) Can you create energy? and 2) Can you destroy energy?

One fourth grader commented as he left the show:
"I wish I could stay here forever" followed closely by, "You can't make or destroy energy."

Feedback from teachers has also been overwhelmingly positive:
"The show taught the students to our curriculum standards in a format that was engaging and lessons that were easily remembered."

"Students were engaged and excited. They definitely learned a lot."

"Our students loved the show. They want to come again next year. They had more questions after the show and for days following as they talked about it and shared ideas on what they experienced and why."

Upcoming Shows:

Please note that reservations are required to attend the performances (see contact information for Eileen Harvala below) and that space is limited.

January 6-8 and 11-15, 2016
May 11-13 and 16-20, 2016

The Energy and U Team

The shows are created and performed by University of Minnesota faculty members in the College of Science and Engineering, and Department of Chemistry Lecture Demonstration Director Joe Franek. Eileen Harvala is the communication coordinator for the show.

The developers and performers are:
Professor Frank Bates (Chemical Engineering Materials Science)
Professor David Blank (Chemistry, Current Director)
Professor Cari Dutcher (Mechanical Engineering)
Joe Franek (Chemistry)
Professor Renee Frontiera (Chemistry)
Professor Christy Haynes (Chemistry)
Professor Marc Hillmyer (Chemistry)
Professor Aaron Massari (Chemistry)

Contact us:

For questions about the shows, including inquires about scheduling a visit for your students, please contact Eileen Harvala. Note that there are funds available to offset transportation costs.

Eileen Harvala
Communications Coordinator
Phone: 612-624-0831

Mailing Address:
University of Minnesota
Dept. Of Chemisty
C-8 139 Smith Hall
207 Pleasant St. SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455-0431

The Energy and U Sponsors

Energy and U is made possible by the generous donations of our sponsors:

- The National Science Foundation Materials Research Science and Engineering Center at the University of Minnesota

- The National Science Foundation Center for Sustainable Polymers at the University of Minnesota

- Medtronic Corporation

- Schlumberger

- The College of Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota

- The Department of Chemistry at the University of Minnesota

- The Department of Chemical Engineering Material Science at the University of Minnesota

If you or your organization is interested in becoming a partner with us in this high impact outreach activity for the kids of Minnesota, please contact Professor David Blank, phone: 612-624-0571, email: