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UW STEM Carnival, Science Initiative Building Grand Opening Sept. 16

September 9, 2022
a group of people standing in a large room
A tour group gets a look at the modern active-learning classroom in UW’s new Science Initiative Building. Guided tours will be part of the activities to celebrate the building’s grand opening and inaugural STEM Carnival Friday, Sept. 16. (UW Photo)

Members of the University of Wyoming community and the public will celebrate the opening of UW’s Science Initiative Building and participate in a variety of science activities during UW’s inaugural STEM Carnival Friday, Sept. 16, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Hosted by UW’s Top-Tier Science Initiative, most of the activities will take place in the Science Initiative Building at the corner of Ninth and Lewis streets on the northwest end of UW’s campus. The event is the grand opening of the new 153,000-square-foot, $100 million building, a world-class facility focused on both undergraduate education and cutting-edge research in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.

In conjunction with the STEM Carnival in the new building -- featuring a wide range of engaging presentations and hands-on activities from UW STEM faculty, students, programs and local businesses -- three speakers will be featured at 1 p.m. in UW’s Engineering Education and Research Building.

UW President Ed Seidel will speak on “Basic Sciences as Building Blocks for Innovation”; Ellen Currano, an associate professor in UW’s Department of Botany, will speak on “Excavating Wyoming’s Ancient Tropical Forests While Changing the Face of Science”; and Nobel Prize winner Carl Wieman, of Stanford University, will deliver a recorded message titled “STEM Education -- Abrupt Transition From Medieval to Modern: New Goals, New Insights and New Methods.”

Ellen Currano, Ed Seidel and Carl Wieman

Seidel is a fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and has earned international awards for his work in physics, computational science and economic development. Currano is a paleontologist who studies how ancient forest communities responded to environmental changes; she has excavated fossil plants on six continents, with most time spent in the Wyoming badlands and Ethiopia. Wieman has done extensive experimental research in both atomic physics and science and engineering education at the university level. He has received numerous awards for both, including the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2001.

Beginning at 10 a.m. and continuing through 3 p.m., interactive STEM tables from various UW science departments will be set up throughout the Science Initiative Building. Examples of hands-on demonstrations include:

-- Isotope basketball pong with UW’s Stable Isotope Facility.

-- Building paperboard houses and solar panels with the School of Energy Resources.

-- Making and eating liquid nitrogen ice cream with the chemistry and physics departments.

-- Building and launching mini straw rockets with NASA.

-- Learning the concepts of hybridization and adaption with the Museum of Vertebrates.

-- Watching frog embryos develop with the Department of Molecular Biology.

-- Using science to create artwork with Science Loves Art.

Visitors can sign up for additional activities at the information booth. These include:

-- Extracting and visualizing DNA. Participants will walk through and perform an easy and fun experiment to break open the cells of a strawberry to release the DNA inside. This is sponsored by the Science Initiative Roadshow.

-- Exploring electricity. Participants will explore the basics of electricity using balloons, Van de Graaff generators, flashlights and more. This is sponsored by Science Kitchen and NASA.

-- Learning the scanning electron microscope. Participants will get to visit the UW Jenkins Microscopy Facility and learn how a scanning electron microscope works. This is sponsored by INBRE and the Jenkins Microscopy Center.

-- See physics with a watermelon drop demonstration. Attendees can observe and measure the effects of gravity through a demonstration of dropping a watermelon off of the roof of the Science Initiative Building at 12:30 p.m. This is sponsored by the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

-- Experience the new X-ray diffractometer. Participants will receive a walk-through demonstration of a new, $100,000 instrument that determines the three-dimensional structure of molecules by examining how X-rays interact with crystals of those compounds. This is sponsored by the Department of Chemistry.

Additionally, participants will have the opportunity to see how the building’s state-of-the-art active-learning classroom is used. And guided tours of other parts of the building will be conducted starting at the top of each hour.

More information is available at Those with questions can email

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