Inspiring future scientists

Thursday, March 5, 2020 - 12:00pm

The College of Science and Engineering continues to wow children and families from across the state with 3M-sponsored shows. With recent and upcoming performances in 2020, Physics Force and Energy and U are getting kids excited about science and technology, targeting underserved youth and building a pipeline of talent. 

Energy and U

More than a decade after launching, Energy and U shows are better than ever, using explosions, flames, flying pop bottles, music, and dancing to help young people learn more about the first law of thermodynamics, the scale of world energy use, and the significant energy challenges we face.

3M support has played a key role in making Energy and U not only possible, but accessible, subsidizing the buses that bring many kids to campus to see the show. 

“The cost of transportation is prohibitive for many schools—for some schools, Energy and U is the only field trip they have for the entire year,” says professor and Energy and U director Aaron Massari. “For many kids, this is also their first time on a college campus, and that’s a real opportunity for them to envision themselves as college students, and maybe even future scientists. From these perspectives, the impact of 3M’s support is tremendous.”

  • Target audience includes kids in grades three to six.
  • Shows are free, thanks in part to 3M funding.
  • Shows in 2020 include 14 held in January on the U of M’s Twin Cities campus, and 11 planned for May. 
  • In 2019, 8,700 students attended Energy and U, 51% were students of color and 46% were from low-income families.
  • The U of M’s Department of Chemistry and Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science organize Energy and U. 

May 2019 Energy and U Show highlights

Physics Force

For 35 years, Physics Force has brought the excitement and wonder of physics to thousands of youth.

3M continues to play an integral role in making the show a success, especially as Physics Force expands to different Minnesota communities. 

“With steady financial support from 3M we have for the first time expanded our shows to the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester, bringing the fun of physics to communities that don’t have as much access to STEM activities as the Twin Cities,” says professor and Physics Force leader Shaul Hanany. “Together with enthusiastic audiences, we are thankful to 3M for its support.”

  • Target audience includes kids and adults ages five to 105.
  • Shows are supported by 3M funding.
  • Shows are free to tens of thousands of school-age kids.
  • Shows in 2020 include 12 held in January on the U of M’s Twin Cities campus, five planned for May in Rochester, and 20 across the Twin Cities throughout the year.
  • So far in 2020, 18,961 students have attended shows put on exclusively for schools. Of these, 81 percent were from schools that receive free or reduced lunch.
  • Performers in Physics Force include faculty from the U of M’s School of Physics and Astronomy and high school teachers from the Twin Cities area.

Watch Physics Force highlights 

What is the Physics Force


CSE-College of Science and Engineering

CSOM-Carlson School of Management

DENT-School of Dentistry

ICA-Intercollegiate Athletics

OED-Office of Equity and Diversity

STEM-Science, Technology, Engineering, Math

UMMCH-M Health Fairview University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital