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

2014 Math & Science Family Fun Fair

Math & Science Family Fun Fair photo-2014

Activities for kids of all ages!

Fascinating activities, hands-on exhibits, and entertaining presentations showcasing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics add up to a day of fun and learning.

Math & Science Family Fun Fair
Saturday, Nov. 22
10 a.m.–4 p.m.

University of Minnesota
Coffman Memorial Union
300 Washington Ave. S.E., Minneapolis, MN 55455

Highlights include:

  • More than 35 interactive science and engineering exhibits for kids of all ages
  • Physics Force shows (see "Show Times and Ticketing Procedure" below)
  • Energy and U shows (see "Show Times and Ticketing Procedure" below)
  • The solar system in 3D in the ExploraDome
  • A chance to build your own earthquake-resistant structure
  • A remote controlled airplane simulator
  • Make-and-take DNA bracelet
  • And much more! 

Free backpacks!

UMN-CSE drawstring backpacks will be handed out to the first 1,000 kids (kids must be present to receive a backpack, available while supplies last)  

Getting there

Standard rates apply for parking in the East River Parkway Garage, or park and ride the METRO Green Line light rail. Visit Parking and Transportation Services for more information on campus parking and transportation. View a map of Coffman Memorial Union

Show times and ticketing procedure

Energy and U and Physics Force showtimes are 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

  • Free tickets are limited and offered on a first-come, first-served basis after check-in.
  • To give as many visitors as possible a chance to see a show, you are eligible for either “Energy and U” or “Physics Force” tickets, but not both.
  • If you are a ticket holder, you must arrive at the show at least 5 minutes before showtime, or you will forfeit your seat.
  • If you cannot obtain a show ticket, you may elect to “rush” a show by waiting in line outside the show room until directed by volunteer staff to take a seat as they become available. Visitors “rushing” a show are not guaranteed a seat.

The ExploraDome will be presenting "Zoom! From the Earth to the Edge of the Universe" shows every half hour from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Free tickets are limited, offered on a first-come, first-served basis, and can be picked up at the Bell Museum's ExploraDome exhibit at 10 a.m., noon, or 2 p.m. 

Schedule of events

Ticketed events

(See ticketing procedure above)

“Energy and U” (Note Smith Hall location)
11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
Presented by the University of Minnesota Department of Chemistry 
Location: Smith Hall, Room 100

Everybody is talking about energy: What is it? Where do I get it? Can I convert it? Where can I put it? What happens when I let it out? This "Energy and U" show literally blows the lid off these questions and highlights the many science and technology challenges that energy presents. Join the fun! Learn about energy with demonstrations that include screaming gummy bears, loud explosions, bright flashes, and flames!

ExploraDome (shows run every half hour, tickets given out at 10 a.m., noon, and 2 p.m.)
Location: Coffman Memorial Union, Great Hall

The ExploraDome allows visitors to discover the wonders of the night sky and journey through a 3D exploration of the solar system, galaxy, and Universe. Inside the dome, each audience can decide what to see and where to fly

"Physics Force"
11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

Presented by the University of Minnesota School of Physics and Astronomy
Location: Coffman Theater

Can air pressure crush a 55-gallon steel drum? Can a ping-pong ball blast its way through three cans? Are two teams of Minnesota kids stronger than air pressure? Yes, physics is fun! If that sounds unusual to you, come see the always-popular Physics Circus show to see for yourself! There will be no tricks—just physics and skill (we hope!).


Astronomy and Astrophysics
Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics
Explore the Universe! Discover why infrared is so important to astronomy, what meteorites are made of, and how meteorites determine the age of the solar system. Come learn how astronomers determine what stars are made of through their spectra. Free sky maps!

Build a Bridge!
American Society of Civil Engineers–UMN Student Chapter
Learn about the basics of bridges, and then build your own bridge using marshmallows and toothpicks.

Chemistry Happens
Chemistry Department Outreach Program
Explore the chemistry in your everyday life with hands-on experiments that explain acids and bases as well as the chemistry of the foods you eat.

Color Changing Liquid: A Clock Reaction
American Institute of Chemical Engineers
Sometimes it’s hard to tell SCIENCE from MAGIC. At this exhibit, watch a nearly clear liquid turn dark blue in a flash. How can this be? Come and find out!

EBEX: A Balloon-Borne Telescope
School of Physics and Astronomy
This exhibit shows a magnet levitating over a super conductor and demonstrates the polarization of the light—two physics principles used in the EBEX telescope. See a video from the EBEX balloon launch in Antarctica.

Electricity and Pendulums–Oh My!
Tesla Works
Watch light bulbs turn on with no switches or wires, and make lights stick to metal.

Exploring Earthquake-Resistant Buildings
Earthquake Engineering Research Institute Student Chapter @ UMN
Learn how real buildings resist earthquakes, and then build your own earthquake-resistant building or make your own earthquake!

Formula SAE Car
Gopher Motorsports
Come see a Formula SAE open-wheeled race car designed and built by students. Learn more about cars and Formula racing, and then take a seat behind the wheel of a racing simulator!

From Gears to Grids
School of Mathematics Center for Educational Programs
Create a huge, whirling mass of colorful gears, build different shapes using polydrons, play a round of “vector golf,” and even create new patterns with tangrams!

Fun with Chemistry
Alpha Chi Sigma
Come explore chemistry with hands-on experiments that relate chemistry to your daily life!

Fun with DNA and Microbes!
Synthetic Biology Society
Learn more about microbes and the awesome things they can do! Make your own DNA bracelet/keychain, look at crazy glowing microbes, and play our microbe toss game to win prizes! 

Fundamentals of Robotics
Play air hockey against a robotic opponent, control robots, and discover robotics programs in your area. Robots are cool, so come learn more about them and how to build your own!

Fundamentals of Wind Energy
Innovative Engineers
Renewable energy is the future! This exhibit teaches you how renewable energy is made, and then offers you the opportunity to make renewable energy yourself.

Getting ‘Pumped’ Up!
Engineers Without Borders
Want to know what a RAM pump is? Come see one in action! Then learn about Engineers Without Borders and the international projects they are designing.

Hands-On Engineering Fun!
Minnesota Society for Professional Engineers–UMN Student Chapter and Minnesota MATHCOUNTS
Come partake in a variety of hands-on, fun engineering activities such as pulley demonstrations, building paper bridges, and designing a working clock out of a potato!

How Airplanes and Parachutes Work
Society of Women Engineers
Let your dreams take flight and learn how parachutes and airplanes work! Test physics principles and explore the design process as you build and decorate your own paper airplane or paper parachute!

How Supercomputers Work
Minnesota Supercomputing Institute
Learn how scientists worldwide use computers to advance scientific knowledge, and see first-hand how supercomputers play a key role in research at the University of Minnesota. See 3D molecules and then build your own molecular model.

Kids’ University and Other Summer Camps
University Youth and Community Programs
Looking for fun summer enrichment? Discover a world of hands-on, interactive fun at camps for youth ages 6-15 that introduce the fascinating worlds of agriculture, language, math, and science. Then spin the wheel to win a prize!

Mad Scientist Works
University Mad Scientists
From a coil gun to an arcade cabinet, the University Mad Scientists have been busy building projects that are fun and educational. Come see the large LED display built from scratch!

Magnifying the World Around Us
Minnesota Microscopy Society
Experience the wonder of microscopy! Use a variety of microscopes to view sand, fabrics, insects, and other common items. Feel free to bring your own specimens to inspect!

Make Your Family Tree
Pre-Genetic Counseling Club
Map out your family tree. Don't miss this fun, crafty activity where kids can trace back to their great-great grandparents!

Math is the Answer
Institute for Mathematics and its Applications
Math is the answer to understanding and addressing challenges facing our world. In this exhibit, meet mathematicians and play with knots, cryptography, and the traveling salesman problem.

Mathematical Toys
Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics–U of M Student Chapter
Come see the power of mathematics through toys and games! From geometric shapes constructed out of paper to musical coffee cups and racing on ramps, you will see how simple everyday objects can be used to learn about mathematical insights.

Medical Reflexes and Responses
Graduate Women in Biomedical Engineering
Reflexes are reactions you do without thinking. Some are common: your knee jerks when tapped, or you pull away from something hot. Others are obscure, but can be explained by biology and math. Come test your reflexes and learn what causes them!

Monsters in Our World: Microscopic Organisms Revealed
Future Leaders Aspiring in Science and Healthcare
Even though you can’t see them, microscopic organisms are everywhere in our world! Microscopes give us the ability to see these tiny creatures. Come check out bugs, microorganisms, and your own cells under microscopes!

Mystery Science Theater 3001
Society of Physics Students
Come and see mind-bending demonstrations including live/dead balls, collisions, lasers, and more! Watch as we induce a current to defy gravity and trick your eyes into seeing something that is not there. We might even make your hair stand on end!

National Society of Black Engineers
National Society of Black Engineers
Science can be used to solve problems and still be COOL! Enjoy hands-on activities that are examples of real-life problems solved by engineers and scientists.

Medical Devices Center
Practice hand-eye coordination and learn about medical devices while you play a life-size version of Operation!

Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry–UMN Student Group
Try your hand at making and decorating paper from recycled newspaper, cardboard, or white paper.

Pelts, Skulls, and Cockroaches–Oh My!
Bell Museum of Natural History
Come and get hands-on experience with specimens from the natural world! Touch and see animal pelts, skulls, and live invertebrates straight from the museum's collections.

Radio Controlled Aircraft Demos and Simulator
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Come and try your hand at a radio controlled airplane simulator. Also, check out our full array of radio controlled aircraft and see how we fly them.

Minnesota Discovery, Research and InnoVation Economy Scholars
Explore what it means to “code” with a 3D maze game! Built on a flexible framework, it's easy to modify the underlying code and see the effects in the game immediately.

Rocket Team
Come hear about all forms of rocketry, we’ll tell you all you want to know! View large student-built rockets, and then build a smaller version to launch on-site for your own high-flying adventure!

Snap Circuits
Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers
Learn about the basic concepts of electrical engineering as you build a snap circuit. Follow an outlined project or create your own!

Water Treatment
Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo-Engineering
Safe drinking water is vital to the health of our community. Come see how environmental engineers remove tiny suspended particles from natural water sources, producing safe water that looks clean and tastes great!

What Shapes Your Brain
Brain Club
Join us to explore mysteries of the brain! Come learn about the most important organ in the body with arts and crafts, brain exercises and games, and REAL brains!

Dining options

  • Starbucks—open 9 a.m.–4 p.m. 
  • Gopher Express—open 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
  • Grab-N-Go (sandwiches and salads)—open 11 a.m.–2 p.m.
  • Goldy's Gameroom—open 10 a.m.–1 a.m.
  • Chick Fil A—open 11 a.m.–2 p.m.
  • Topios Pizza—open 11 a.m.–2 p.m.

This event is sponsored by the University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering K-12 Outreach Programs.

For more information, contact Kelsi Klaers at or 612-626-7566.