University of Minnesota
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January Energy and U brings 5,000 young people to campus

With screaming gummy bears, flames and rock music, the popular Energy and U program will aim to ignite young people's interest in science, January 13-17.

With three shows a day for five days, more than 5,000 students are expected at January's Energy and U shows, which are schedule for 9:30 a.m., 11:15 a.m., and 1 p.m. Monday, January 13, through Friday, January 17, in 100 Smith Hall.

With an educational slide show about energy 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, Connie Lu, Aaron Massari and Theresa Reineke, and lecture demonstration director Joseph Franek from the Department of Chemistry, and professors Frank Bates, Aditya Bhan 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. Invitations were extended to all public and private elementary and secondary schools, online schools, and home school associations in the seven country metro area. 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.