Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

Science behind the Thrills with Twin Cities Trapeze @ MOA

February 19 @ 11:00 am - 6:00 pm

Fly Through the Air with Science!

Enjoy a free, interactive performance with Minnesota Children’s Museum and Twin Cities Trapeze that guarantees to surprise, delight and teach all at the same time.Twin Cities Trapeze will perform followed by an interactive segment of juggling balls and scarves and twirling hula hoops. Throughout the performance they’ll be plenty of physics as Twin Cities Trapeze demonstrates and explains kinetic energy, balance, centrifugal force and parabolic paths.

Performances and Kids Activities Schedule

  • 11 a.m.
  • 1 p.m.
  • 3 p .m.
  • 5 p.m.

Here’s the Science:

Energy:  “Did you eat breakfast today?”

We eat food to give us energy, which allows us to move, think, and jump! In Physics, we say energy is the capacity to do work, or movement. So if we don’t eat, we don’t get enough energy… which would be a big problem for a circus performer. In circus arts, performers use energy in different ways. All of the performances involve transforming the chemical energy from the food we eat into motion. Circus performers also use other forms of energy like spring potential energy, in trampoline acts, and potential and kinetic (moving) energy which you’ll see in trapeze acts.


Balance is important for many of our acts. If you stand on one foot you need to be careful to line up your body so that most of the weight is in a straight line above your foot. If you lean to one side, what happens? You fall over. This is the same concept performers use on the tightrope or when walking on stilts. Circus performers are very aware of their bodies and have trained hard to be able to make small adjustments to their positions which can lead to exciting tricks, especially when they are on a piece of equipment like the flying trapeze.

Juggling on Parabolic Paths

Juggling is dependent on the parabola shaped path the balls/pins take. Jugglers expect the balls to take a certain path depending on how they throw them, and not be surprised! Why is that? Well, the balls have mass, and science allows us to solve for the equations of motion to predict where the balls will go so that we can time their tricks. It’s not that they spend time calculating this… instead they practice hard so that they learn the motions. If they change balls, maybe to a heavier or lighter one, or to a scarf which is light and has lots of surface area, the timing of the trick changes.

Hula Hoops use Momentum

If you slow down, it becomes harder. However, when the hoop is moving rapidly, there is a lot of momentum due to the mass and the velocity.

The Scientist of the Circus

How many engineering professors do you know that both understand the science of circus and regularly soar through the air on a trapeze? Meet one who does both. Dr. AnnMarie Thomas is an Associate Professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Engineering and Opus College of Business, director of the Playful Learning Lab, a circus student and one of the museum’s Successful People Play members.


February 19
11:00 am - 6:00 pm
Event Category:
Event Tags:
, , , , , , ,


Rotunda at Mall of America
60 E Broadway
Bloomington, MN 55425 United States
+ Google Map

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This