By Amanda A. Taylor
RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – As part of Engineers Week 2021, a special “Energy and U” show will be available to the community on Saturday, Feb. 27 with various times throughout the day.
The “Energy and U” show melds the excitement of chemical demonstrations and the natural connection between energy and STEM education, into a fully produced, on-stage science show.
The show has a running theme of interconverting different forms of energy, often in dramatic fashion, while emphasizing that you cannot create or destroy energy (the First Law of Thermodynamics), you can only transform it. The implications of this Law on the global energy supply are discussed, while energy conversions are showcased, creating a large-scale and memorable experience to the viewers. There are numerous explosions, bright flashes and music that will get children (and adults) dancing.
“This is basically a way for kids to learn about energy and the different forms of energy, including the first law of thermodynamics,” said Dr. Karen Lozano, the Julia Beecherl endowed professor in mechanical engineering and director of the UTRGV Nanotechnology Center of Excellence. “This is taught in a way that kids will never forget. No matter what age they are, I don’t think they’d ever forget the experience.”
The “Energy and U” show was originally developed at the University of Minnesota in 2007. Funding from National Science Foundation through informal science programs has facilitated the migration of the show to South Texas.
The show originally was planned to be a live performance, but to adhere to COVID-19 safety guidelines, UTRGV now has developed a virtual educational opportunity that can help the community know what energy is and why it is important to learn and innovate within the STEM field.
“The idea was to have a full-blown production, but because of the pandemic, we couldn’t do that,” Lozano said. “So, we decided to innovate, and the virtual option is a really nice production.”
Lozano said exposure to these kinds of events is a step forward in introducing STEM as a potential career to young children and to planting seeds for the future of STEM within the Valley.
The premiere week of the “Energy & U” show has had more than 9,000 guests registered. While ongoing shows are full during Engineers Week, there will be virtual shows available on Saturday, Feb. 27 for the public.
The shows are free of charge; you can register here.“We are very happy that there are so many people interested in the shows,” Lozano said, “especially since these shows took months of planning and work. I am happy that we have so many young minds who are interested and could potentially help solve energy problems in the future.”