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.

This event is free and open to the public. There is no pre-registration, but check-in is required upon arrival to the event.

Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015
10 a.m.–4 p.m.

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

Event highlights will 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 (see “Show Times and Ticketing Procedure” below)
  • Robots
  • Make-and-take science projects
  • And much more!

Free backpacks!

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

Show times and ticketing procedure

Energy and U and Physics Force

  • 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 shows regularly throughout the event. Free tickets are limited, offered on a first-come, first-served basis, and can be picked up at the Bell Museum’s ExploraDome exhibit.

Schedule of events

Ticketed events

(See ticketing procedure above)
“Energy and U” (Note Smith Hall location)
(Show times at 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!

“Physics Force”
(Show times at Noon and 2 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 you use a fire extinguisher to make a human rocket? 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 Force show to see for yourself. There will be no tricks—just physics and skill (we hope!)

(Shows every half hour; first show 10:30 a.m., last show 3:30 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.

Exhibits include:

Be an Astronomer
Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics
Stare at spectra, learn why astronomers rely on the infrared, and see a model of how gravity bends light. The astronomy exhibit will show you the tools astronomers use every day. And YOU can be a Citizen Scientist by classifying galaxies on Galaxy Zoo!

Bird Beaks
Bell Museum
Explore the various types of beak shapes and styles birds have evolved, allowing them to effectively eat specific types of foods like nuts, worms, fish, plants, and more.

Building with MathCEP
School of Mathematics Center for Educational Programs (MathCEP)
Society often sees mathematics outside of its mainstream, but we will explore its tangible side with immersive, hands-on activities. Use shapes, straws, and gears to build, create, and discover how math relates to the world around you.

Circuits, Light Suits, and Kiki, Oh My!
Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers (SASE)
From electrical snap circuits to electroluminescent light suits and 3-D printed objects, this student group provides interesting and interactive activities. You can also take a picture with Kiki the panda!

Earthquakes and Shaketables
Earthquake Engineering Research Institute
Let’s shake it up! Learn everything about earthquakes, and even design your own KINEX building to withstand our shaketable.

EBEX: Balloon-Borne Telescope to Study the Early Universe
Laboratory of Cosmology
See a magnet levitating over a superconductor and a demonstration of the polarization of the light—two physics principles used in the EBEX telescope. Also see a replica of the telescope and its launch video from Antarctica.

Tesla Works
Magic!? NO! That’s electro-science! Mind control, lightsabers, and dancing lightning bolts can all be explained with the science of electricity. See the Muscle Manipulator, Slayer Exciter, and Tesla Coil.

Elephant Toothpaste
American Institute of Chemical Engineers
See a chemical reaction produce a tower of colorful foam that some say resembles elephant toothpaste.

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

Explore Engineering for Real World Problems
Engineers Without Borders – University of Minnesota Student Chapter
Join us to build towers out of pasta and marshmallows, play with a rain water harvesting system, and create your own solutions to real-world problems.

Exploring DNA Through Crafts and Games (and Candy)
Pre-Genetic Counseling Club
Visit two exciting stations that teach the basics of genetics and DNA! Craft your own DNA using Twizzlers and marshmallows. Learn about heredity by investigating the ancestry of turtles by figuring out who the parents are.

Exploring Materials: From Medicine to Energy
Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science
Learn more about how different types of materials can be used in all aspects of life, from turning sunlight into energy using solar cells, to the development of implants to treat diseases.

Fluid Flow in the Body
Graduate Women in Biomedical Engineering
Blood gives cells in your body food and removes waste, and it flows at different speeds throughout your body. See how efficiently you can pump fluids, and learn about the different ways blood flows in your body. *Note: No actual blood is used in this exhibit.

From Egg to Animal
Developmental Biology Center
We all start our lives as a single cell. How does one cell turn into all of the different types of cells in our bodies? See embryonic development as it happens, and learn about the different organisms biologists study to understand development.

Fuel, Air, Spark: Speed by Design
Gopher Motorsports
What happens when a group of students cooperate to build a race car? Gopher Motorsports, that’s what! Through the College of Science and Engineering, and with the help of our many sponsors, students are able to produce a one-of-a-kind, student-built race car every year.

Fun With Wind Energy
Innovative Engineers
Learn about harnessing the power of wind. Try your hand at creating your own wind turbine blades and then test them in Innovative Engineers’ miniature wind tunnel.

Gliders: Learn to Build and Fly!
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) – University of Minnesota Student Chapter
Can you build a simple glider with things you find at home? Do you know how a plane flies? Can you maneuver a simple glider using control surfaces? Build gliders, test them, and have fun seeing them fly.

I Can Do This at Home!?!
Chemistry Department Outreach Program
Join the Chemistry Outreach Program and explore the chemistry in your everyday life. You will explore acids and bases, discover the chemistry of the household items, and learn about different states of matter.

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

Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry (TAAPI) – University of Minnesota Student Chapter, Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering Department
Make your own greeting card from recycled paper. You can choose from recycled newspaper, cardboard or white paper and you can decorate it with LOTS of colors.

Magnifying the World Around Us
Minnesota Microscopy Society
Experience the wonders of microscopy! We will have a variety of microscopes on hand to view sands from around the United States, fabrics, insects, and many other common items. Feel free to bring your own specimens to image.

Material Advantage
Material Advantage
Join us to learn about material science with hands-on activities. You can play with kinetic sand, see a superconductor levitate a magnet in thin air, and last but not least, an awesome thin film demo.

Math is the Answer
Institute for Mathematics and its Applications
Math is the answer to understanding our world, making new discoveries, and addressing the challenges that face us. In this IMA exhibit there will be fun, hands-on activities, including knots, cryptography, and the traveling salesman problem.

Mathematical Toys
Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM)
We use mathematical toys, games, and puzzles to demonstrate some fascinating principles. We’ll explore musical coffee cups, racing rice cylinders, how to turn a vest inside out with your hands tied, and how to make a paper star with a single cut.

MnDrive Robotics
MnDrive Scholars
Meet and interact with several robots available for education and research at the University of Minnesota. See the NAO humanoid robots run presentations, and navigate the Scout robots through an obstacle course. We’ll also have information about outreach programs.

Mystery Science Room
Society of Physics Students – University of Minnesota Student Chapter
See a head-sized kaleidoscope, eggs that neither float nor sink, art that changes color, water flowing with no source, and much more. Try to figure out the science behind the fun—there is no magic here!

Natural World
Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology Club
Take a look into the lives of fisheries, wildlife, and conservation biologists! What needs to be done to protect wilderness? How do scientists study bears? How are populations monitored? Learn how we tackle these questions and more.

Operation Goldy
Medical Devices Center
Play a life-sized version of Operation with your favorite Golden Gopher. The Medical Devices Center’s Goldy Operation exhibit enables kids to handle and learn about real medical devices in a unique and fun way.

Pulleys, Rockets, Engines and More
Minnesota Society of Professional Engineers – University of Minnesota Student Chapter
Visit the Minnesota Society of Professional Engineers booth and partake in a variety of hands-on, fun engineering activities. Learn how strong you can be with a pulley, see inside an engine, learn about electricity, and more.

Renewable Energy in Motion
University of Minnesota Solar Vehicle Project
The University of Minnesota Solar Vehicle Project is a group of driven student engineers that designs and constructs solar-electric hybrid vehicles. See motors, batteries, solar cells, and other pieces it is made from.

Re-Train Your Brain
Brain Club
Learn about the human brain. We have interactive games and real human brains!

Reverse Engineering Humans’ Guidance Algorithms
Interactive Guidance and Control Lab
The brain uses efficient visual processing and control mechanisms to decode the environment and determine the best control actions. This exhibit presents results from research and will allow visitors to participate in experiments.

Rocket Team
Ever wondered how NASA gets things into space? We have a number of rockets that students at the University have built and flown, and then you can build and fly your very own small rocket.

Snap Circuits
Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) – University of Minnesota Student Chapter
Learn about electricity by building with snap circuits. Design your own system on a circuit board while learning about the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers.

Sphere Science Site
Alpha Chi Sigma – Beta Chapter – University of Minnesota Student Chapter
Ever wondered how bouncy balls were made? Learn about polymers by making your own bouncy ball. We’ll also have fog-filled bubbles for a fun way to demonstrate physical properties like the sublimation of dry ice.

Steel Bridge
Steel Bridge Team-American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) – University of Minnesota Student Chapter
See the scale model steel bridge from Spring 2015. The bridge is made of steel with bolted connections. It was designed and fabricated here at the University of Minnesota. The bridge was designed to hold 2,400 pounds—that’s the weight of a smaller compact car!

Stepping Into Rock Rheology
University of Minnesota Geological Society
What looks like a solid, acts like a solid, but moves like a fluid? Rocks! Stop by our table for a hands-on look into the world of geology, where we will demonstrate how rocks react to pressure and how rocks are moving beneath your feet.

Student Robotics Team
Drive some of the robots we have built. We will have Lego robots and Vex robots available for children to drive. We can also provide you with more information about robotics programs in the area for students grades K-12.

Minnesota Supercomputing Institute
See first-hand how supercomputers play a key role in research at the University of Minnesota. Learn how scientists use computers to advance scientific knowledge. See 3D molecules. Build your own molecular model.

Toothbrush Robots and Polymer Putty
Society of Women Engineers – University of Minnesota Student Chapter
Do you want to turn the bristles of a toothbrush into a tiny robot that zooms all over the place? Or do you want to make your own stretchy, bouncy, gooey, colorful putty? If so, visit the Society of Women Engineers exhibit.

Touch Tank
Marine Biology Club
Experience a traveling touch tank filled with live marine animals! This student group brings students together to spread awareness about marine life and help educate people on the importance of these oceanic organisms.

University Mad Scientists Project Demos
University Mad Scientists
See the University Mad Scientist’s latest project creations. We will explain how they work and function. These include an electric skateboard, miniature arcade cabinet, and other projects.

Water Treatment
Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering
Where does our drinking water come from? The river? But there is a lot of stuff in Mississippi River water that we don’t want to drink! (Fish poop, anyone?) How do we remove it to keep our water clean, safe, and tasting great? Stop by to find out.

Dining options

Starbucks (open 9 a.m.–4 p.m.)
Gopher Express (open 9 a.m.–5 p.m.)
Goldy’s Gameroom (open 10 a.m.–Midnight)
Chick Fil A (open 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m.)
Topios Pizza (open 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m.)
GrabNGo (open 11:30 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, email CSE Outreach at