Science Alive Recaps

2023 Recap
Science Alive 2023 Web

ND Energy faculty affiliates, associated researchers, and Student Energy Board members were among the 30 exhibitors at the 31st Annual Science Alive on Saturday, February 11, at the St. Joseph County Public Library’s Main Branch in Downtown South Bend. ND Energy hosted a room full of energy-related, hands-on activities and demonstrations. Participating groups were:

View photos of the 2023 event here.

2022 Recap
Science Alive 2022

Thanks to all of the researchers from ND Energy affiliated labs for participating in Science Alive on Saturday, May 21. During the event at the St. Joseph County Public Library, over 700 community members meandered the ballroom area where the following labs provided hands-on STEM experiences and information for families: 

See photos of the 2022 event here.

2021 Recap

Science Alive was held virtually throughout the month of February and presented several new opportunities and challenges due to COVID-19. In spite of these changes, ND Energy and its student volunteers embraced the opportunity and created some amazing online demonstrations and activities for virtual viewers.

Chocolate Chip Mining

Undergraduate students on ND Energy’s Student Energy Board (SEB) presented 30-minute, live demonstrations at various times throughout the event (see schedule on our event page). All of the presenters encouraged viewers to pursue their interest in science and answered many interesting questions about being a student at Notre Dame.

  • Mackenzie Winton and Lucas Barreto walked viewers through the steps of making a simple catapult while explaining potential and kinetic energy.
  • Kelsey Farr used coffee filters and markers to demonstrate and explain the importance of separating materials in finding new chemicals for solar panels and batteries.
  • Tara Senn demonstrated thermal energy by making “elephant’s toothpaste” in her dorm room.
  • Nathaniel Hiott helped viewers make mini-wind turbines, while sharing his passion for wind energy.
  • Caitlin Clancy and Lyla Senn demonstrated coal mining using chocolate chip cookies, while discussing the environmental impact of fossil fuels.

Graduate students from affiliated research laboratories videotaped energy-related demonstrations, activities, and laboratory tours. These videos can be viewed on our Science Alive webpage.   

  • Neha Mehra (Schneider lab) demonstrated separations and catalysis from her home kitchen in her production of “Curds and Whey- How and Why Do Scientists Separate Materials?”
  • Jeffrey DuBose (Kamat lab) explained “Solar Water Splitting: Making Fuel from Water and Sunlight” using a video filmed in front of Touchdown Jesus.
  • Ashley Hastings, Sam Perry, and Aliya Whitehill (Burns lab and Hixon lab) took viewers into a nuclear research lab to show them uranium crystal formations.
  • Daniel Martin, Madeline Riffel and Keaton Prather (Go lab) demonstrated glow-in-the-dark reactions using a plasma globe, while explaining the role of energy in oxidation-reduction reactions.
2020 Recap
Kamat Group

Due to the ongoing renovations at the St. Joseph County Public Library's main branch, the 28th annual Science Alive was held at the Jordan Hall of Science on Notre Dame's campus. 

Science Alive serves many purposes, such as bringing the community together and creating enthusiasm for science and engineering. It is a unique opportunity for people of all ages to interact with high-level researchers and learn about innovative projects taking place in the South Bend area. The presenters benefit from the opportunity to practice the “soft skill” of distilling their knowledge into everyday language and concepts. 

Slinkies, slime, Sudoku puzzles, Legos, Alka Seltzer, balloons, and a plasma globe were some of the items used to demonstrate the basics of research involving nanoparticles, catalysis, polymers, and plasma. Each group had a poster to connect the hands-on activity to the work in the lab. During the six-hour event, questions of all kinds came from four year olds to retired professionals. 

Along with members of the Student Energy Board, participating ND Energy affiliated faculty members in this year's event included: ​​​​​Peter BurnsAlexander DowlingDavid GoAmy HixonPrashant KamatSvetlana NeretinaJennifer SchaeferWilliam SchneiderEmily Tsui, and Jonathan Whitmer.

See photos of the 2020 event here.

2019 Recap
2019 Science Alive

Fifty faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate students from ND Energy’s affiliated research labs provided eight hands-on exhibits at the 27th annual Science Alive at the St. Joseph County Public Library in downtown South Bend. Well over one-thousand members of the community moved through the third floor energy area to learn the basics about research being done at Notre Dame. 

Research groups represented a the 2019 Science Alive included those of David GoKyle DoudrickJennifer SchaeferJonathan WhitmerMarc MullerAlex DowlingWilliam SchneiderJason HicksEmily Tsui, and Sangpil Yoon. The Student Energy Board also showed up in force to provide support.

2018 Recap
2018 Science Alive

More than 1,300 members of the South Bend community made it to the third floor of the St. Joseph County Public Library to enjoy energy-related hands-on activities presented by ND Energy affiliated laboratories. Science Alive! is an annual event sponsored by the library that draws families and people of all ages to learn about a wide variety of science topics. ND Energy contributed 10 stations to the event, filling a room and spilling out into the hallway. 

Over 40 graduate students, professors, Student Energy Board undergraduates, and staff participated during the six-hour event. Research topics included radiation, membranes, nanoparticles, polymers, low temperature plasma, hydrogen gas generation, superconductivity, and concentrated solar power. 

Research groups that participated were from the laboratories of Kyle Doudrick, David Go, Amy Hixon, Abigail MechtenbergSvetlana NeretinaJennifer SchaeferWilliam Schneider, and Jonathan Whitmer.

2017 Recap
2017 Science Alive

During the 25th anniversary of Science Alive in 2017, ND Energy had ten affiliated labs participating, creating an overflow from its traditional, single “energy” room into the third floor lobby. Over 850 community members participated in educational hands-on exhibits. 

While the activities were aimed at younger participants, posters and researchers answered many questions about their work and the future of energy to adults.

The ND Energy affiliated laboratories that participated were those of faculty members Kyle Doudrick, Haifeng Gao, David Go, Prashant Kamat, Abigail Mechtenberg, Svetlana Neretina, William Phillip, Jennifer SchaeferWilliam Schneider, and Jonathan Whitmer.

For more information or to get involved, contact Anne Berges Pillai, Education and Outreach Associate Program Director, at 574-631-9106 or