Texas A&M Chemistry Road Show To Entertain At SXSW In Austin

March 12, 2017

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Texas A&M University will take one of its most popular outreach programs – the Chemistry Road Show – to Austin’s South By Southwest (SXSW) event on Tuesday, March 14, from 5-6 p.m. in the Lady Bird Ballroom of the Hotel Van Zandt, and viewers will no doubt be dazzled and entertained by the chemical wonders unfolding before them.

Started in 1987, the Chemistry Road Show has enthralled audiences across the state with its humor, colorful chemical reactions and fun activities.  Funded by the Department of Chemistry and the College of Science in partnership with Dow Chemical and Shell Oil, the event reaches more than 22,000 people per year all over Texas and helps stimulate interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education.

Chemistry professor Jim Pennington serves as the host and coordinator of the Chemistry Road Show and manages to pull exciting stunts from his custom-made cargo van that serves as his bag of tricks.

Every bit as colorful as the trademark tie-dyed lab coat he dons for each show, Pennington took rein of the Chemistry Road Show in 2008.
Every bit as colorful as the trademark tie-dyed lab coat he dons for each show, Pennington took rein of the Chemistry Road Show in 2008.

“I am a ham, and I love doing this,” Pennington says of his Road Show antics that include Nitro, the liquid-nitrogen powered Road Show mascot and also a flaming Book of Knowledge.

“I enjoy getting in front of a crowd and seeing the enthusiasm and excitement.  I want it to be educational but also motivational, and I just want to remind people that science lets them do some pretty cool stuff.”

Pennington’s act includes numerous dazzling special effects, such as showing iron burning as brightly as the sun, producing a genie from a bottle and instantly solidifying a cup of water by adding a pinch of dry powder.

For the first time ever, Texas A&M will be participating at the SXSW Festival and Conference in Austin during Interactive Week, March 10-15, showcasing the innovative work happening at the tier-one research institution. SXSW is historically known for bringing together global professionals, brands and cutting-edge vendors from a diverse group of industries, and Texas A&M is one of just a handful of universities showcasing during Interactive Week.

For more on Texas A&M’s SXSW activities, visit sxsw.tamu.edu.

For more on SXSW, visit sxsw.com

About Texas A&M University: Texas A&M, established in 1876 as the first public university in Texas, is one of the nation’s largest universities with more than 66,000 students and more than 440,000 living alumni residing in over 150 countries around the world. A tier-one university, Texas A&M holds the rare triple land-, sea- and space-grant designation. Research conducted at Texas A&M represented annual expenditures of more than $892.7 million in fiscal year 2016. Texas A&M’s research creates new knowledge that provides basic, fundamental and applied contributions resulting, in many cases, in economic benefits to the state, nation and world. The school’s Lead by Example campaign is a comprehensive effort to raise $4 billion by the year 2020, making it the largest higher education campaign in Texas history and the second largest conducted nationally by a public university. Aggies are known for their deep commitment to the success of each other and a strong desire to serve.

Media contact: tamunews@tamu.edu
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