Activities for kids of all ages!

Everyone is invited to join us for fascinating activities, hands-on exhibits, and entertaining presentations showcasing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics that adds up to a day of fun and learning.

Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016
10 a.m.–4 p.m.
Coffman Memorial Union
300 Washington Ave. SE

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

This year’s event includes:

  • Interactive stage shows by Physics Force and Energy and U!
  • Discover the solar system in 3D in the ExploraDome!
  • Make paper!
  • Control robots!
  • See hidden microworlds!
  • And much more!

Download materials:

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 showtimes is 11:30 a.m. and Physics Force showtimes are noon and 2 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 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)
(11:30 a.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”
(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 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!).

(Shows will be every half hour starting at 10:30 a.m. Tickets will be passed out at the Bell Museum exhibit 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.


Architecture and Honeybees
Bell Museum of Natural History
Bring out your artistic side as you explore the architecture of honeybee hives, learn about bees’ use of hexagons, and create a piece of art to take home with you!

Bridge Building
Engineers Without Borders
Create unique bridge designs using Legos, and see if you can build the bridge that holds the most weight.

Building with MathCEP
School of Mathematics Center for Educational Programs
Explore the tangible side of math with immersive, hands-on activities. Use shapes, straws, and gears to build, create, and discover how math relates to the world around you.

Candy DNA Helix and Genetic Coloring Sheets!
Pre-Genetic Counseling Club
Learn about DNA structure in a tasty way. There will also be coloring sheets on cool science topics.

Clean Air Cannon
Minnesota Environmental Engineers, Scientists, and Enthusiasts
You can be an environmental engineer by stopping tiny particles (confetti) from becoming air pollution. How much confetti can you filter from the air before it exits the confetti cannon?

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

EBEX: A Balloon-borne Telescope
Cosmology Laboratory
See a magnet levitating over a superconductor and demonstrate the polarization of the light; two physics principles used in the EBEX telescope, as well as a scale model of the telescope and its launch video from Antarctica.

Elephant Toothpaste
American Institute of Chemical Engineers
Learn about catalysis in an explosive way! Make elephant toothpaste by mixing together some common household items. The results will be fantastically foamy and highlight what chemical engineers can do.

Engineering and Math at Work
Minnesota Society of Professional Engineers
Apply math skills to real life, challenge your strength, or design the strongest bridge. Discover how engineering is at work in our daily lives through a variety of hands-on activities.

ExploraDome Planetarium
Bell Museum of Natural History
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.

Exploring Chemistry
Alpha Chi Sigma
Explore the topics of non-Newtonian fluids, acid/base chemistry, and the properties of slime in interactive chemical demonstrations.

Exploring the Human Brain!
Brain Club
What makes us all talk, walk, think, and stay alive? Your brain! It’s the bridge from the physical world to your thoughts and opinions. Learn about perception, the anatomy of the brain, and see a real human brain.

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.

Fun With Wind Energy
Innovative Engineers
See how wind energy is created using a blade fabrication demo. If the blades work really well, they generate electricity that will turn on lights that show different levels of power.

Geomorphology of the Midwest
University of Minnesota Geological Society
Explore the geology of the Midwest and see how the landscape was formed. Learn about stream processes, glaciers, the topography of the landscape, and more!

Glider Competition
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Can you build a simple glider with materials you find at home? Do you know how a plane flies? Build gliders and see if they can fly!

Gridlock Buster!
Center for Transportation Studies
Want to learn more about controlling traffic? Come play Gridlock Buster, an online traffic control game based on tools and ideas that actual traffic control engineers use every day.

Hands-on Astronomy
Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics
Discover the wonders of the Universe with us! This exhibit is full of fun and hands-on learning for adults and children. See tools and techniques astronomers use to probe the heavens.

How Does the Brain Talk to the Body?
Graduate Women in Biomedical Engineering
The brain is the command center of the body. But how is information transferred from your head to your toes? In this hands-on model, learn what mechanism neurons use to communicate with each other via neurotransmitters.

Interesting Materials
Material Advantage
Explore interesting materials with us; from kinetic sand to nichrome wire!

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

Lightning Power
Tesla Works
Play music with lightning bolts on an amazing Tesla coil! Play the shock box game and see how many other crazy ways electricity can light up the world.

Like Speed? So Do We.
Gopher Motorsports
See the 2016 UMN FSAE race car! Watch a video from competition and take a picture behind the wheel.

The MAD Emporium
University Mad Scientists
The University Mad Scientists are bringing their wide array of contraptions to the Family Fun Fair! Be prepared to interact with various devices and explore the science and thinking behind them.

Magnetic Putty
Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers
Become attracted to our do-it-yourself magnetic silly putty!

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

Make Your Own Paper Airplane
Society of Women Engineers
Have you ever made a paper airplane? Did you know there are many ways to make them? Choose a design and create your own plane.

Mathematical Toys
Society for Industrial and Applied Math Student Chapter
Play with toys, games, and puzzles such as musical coffee cups and racing rice cylinders to learn about mathematical principles.

Marine Biology Touch Tank
Marine Biology Club
Have you ever wanted to see and touch live animals from the ocean? Well, now you can! We have starfish, sea urchins, and much more to touch and learn about.

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

Mystery Physics Lab
Society of Physics Students
Explore some of the coolest and most mind-boggling phenomenon in science to discover why physics is fascinating!

Ohm G, Watt? My Body’s a Circuit?
Engineering World Health
This interactive project demonstrates how the body can make and do cool things by completing a circuit. Play the game “Operation” on Goldy Gopher or make music with potatoes!

Paper Making
Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry
Create a work of art using paper fibers, colors, and a drying device! This paper making activity is a fun and hands-on exhibit for all ages (even parents).

Phase Transformation
Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics
Join us and see the amazing applications of phase transformation. Phase transformation is a common phenomenon that happens in materials that can completely change properties. 15-minute presentations will be every hour on the :45 starting at 10:45 a.m., with the last presentation at 2:45 p.m. No tickets are required for this event; first-come, first-served.

Robotics After High School
GOFIRST Robotics
Want to drive some awesome robots designed and built by college students? Visit our exhibit where you can drive robots yourself and learn about robotics programs offered in your area for students grades K-12!

Rocket Science
Rocket Team
Make straw rockets and learn more about rocket science!

Rocket Your World
oSTEM @ Minnesota
Build your own mini rocket! Decorate the outside however you desire before assembling and attaching it to a straw air-based propulsion system.

Scale of the Solar System
Astronomy Club
Join us for a demonstration of the scale of our solar system—we guarantee it’s a lot bigger than you think! Explore an interactive booth with facts about black holes, exploding stars, dark matter, and more!

Snap Circuits with SHPE
Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers
Have fun with electric circuits while building your own toys full of lights, sounds, and flying parts!

Women in Math
Learn to appreciate math in our everyday lives by creating fun drawings to take home. Use a spirograph to learn about symmetry and patterns in mathematics.

Solar Vehicle
Solar Vehicle Project
The Solar Vehicle Project is a student-run organization which designs and builds solar-powered cars for competition. We are excited to talk and show you the science and engineering that have helped us succeed.

Sustainable Energy and Climate Change
UMN Energy Club
Explore the realm of sustainable energy and climate change. Hop onto the Power Bike and generate your own electricity, or try designing and testing your own wind turbine!

This is VITAL Information!
Future Leaders Aspiring in Science and Healthcare
Vital signs are an important measure of health. Learn to assess and measure personal characteristics and vital signs, such as heart rate, body temperature, respiratory rate, reflexes, and blood pressure. Children can create a decorative health profile to fill in with personal vitals.

The Watershed
Metropolitan Council Environmental Services
Learn through a hands-on demonstration what a watershed is and what you can do to protect the water.

What’s a Supercomputer?
Minnesota Supercomputing Institute
Create virtual reality and 3D! See how scientists use supercomputers for cool research.

View photos from last year’s Fun Fair.

2015 Math & Science Family Fun Fair

Dining options in Coffman Memorial Union

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 in Minnesota Marketplace (open 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m.)
Topios Pizza in Minnesota Marketplace (open 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m.)
GrabNGo in Minnesota Marketplace (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