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Kaboom: Energy and U brings 4,500 students to campus

With additional presenters and shows, reorganized demonstrations, new music, and extended outreach to students in the seven-county metro area, the popular Energy and U program explodes, May 14-18.

With three shows a day for five days, more than 4,500 students are expected at this May's Energy and U shows, which are schedule for 9:30 a.m., 11:15 a.m., and 1 p.m. Monday, May 14, through Friday, May 18, in 100 Smith Hall. Invitations were extended to all public and private elementary and secondary schools, online schools, and home school associations in the seven country metro area. Another 4,500 students attended Energy and U shows in January.

With an educational slide show set to music, and some demonstrations that include loud explosions, bright flashes and flames, Energy and U ignites students' interest in science. It 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.

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.

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. Presenters include professors David Blank, Christy Haynes, Marc Hillmyer, and Theresa Reineke, and lecture demonstration director Joseph Franek from the Department of Chemistry, and professors Frank Bates and Kevin Dorfman from the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science. Bates, Blank, and Hillmyer started the Energy and U program in 2006.

Outreach to schools with high percentages 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.