Explosive show aims to ignite interest in science

The audience awaits with baited breath, and a full orchestra is ready to play on stage—but the conductor has been abducted and taken hostage by a mad scientist. This is the backdrop for “Lydo”—quite possibly the coolest physics class ever—a show being held this spring for several thousand schoolchildren in Rogaland county, Norway.

A series of explosions rock the stage. Hundreds of children in the audience attempt to out-scream one another. The music is intense and the atmosphere is electric. It’s a musical show and physics experiment rolled into one.

On the stage, the mad scientist is played by Per Kristian Grytdal, a well-known figure from Norwegian children’s TV. He has taken the orchestra's conductor hostage and plans to take control over the power of music using devious scientific methods and experiments. And if he succeeds, he will be able to capture all music and the world will dance to a different tune ... his! 

Inspiring the engineers of tomorrow

The audience were thrilled and witnessed a science lesson unlike any other, with bags of inspiration to boot. The aim of the show was to get children excited about physics, and it certainly struck a chord with Erlend Eskvik, a Year 6 pupil at Jåtten school:

“I think it's a really good idea to mix different subjects together so that unexpected things happen,” he says with typical sixth-grader enthusiasm.

In partnership with the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, Statoil has arranged Lydo for several thousand school children since 2015. Who says physics experiments have to be performed in the classroom or lab? They can just as well be performed on stage, accompanied by a full orchestra.

This video is in Norwegian only.

“Through Statoil’s talent programme, Heroes of Tomorrow, we intend to inspire interest in science among children and young people at an early age. We strongly believe that events like Lydo increase interest in so-called ‘boring’ subjects, and we hope this will help raise awareness about all the exciting opportunities STEM subjects can offer,” says Cathrine Instebø, sponsorship manager at Statoil.

We want to illustrate the connection between music and physics in a fun way

 Ingvild Rosenberg, Stavanger Symphony Orchestra's education and outreach coordinator. 

Science should be fun

Some people seem to think science is tedious and boring; Lydo shows that physics is fun. And this is one of the objectives of the Heroes of Tomorrow programme: to increase enthusiasm for physics, chemistry and maths through activities that children enjoy.

“We want to illustrate the connection between music and physics in a fun way by inviting pupils to a physics lesson where music is an integral part of the teaching,” says Ingvild Rosenberg, Stavanger Symphony Orchestra's education and outreach coordinator. 

I want to become a researcher because I want to help the world develop new technology and make progress

Erlend Eskvik, Year 6, Jåtten school.


Per Kristian Grytdal is a popular figure from Norwegian children's TV. Photo: Asle Haukland - AP

The atmosphere in the hall was electric as the show got underway Photo: Asle Haukland - AP

The objective of the show is to help inspire the next generation of young scientists Photo: Asle Haukland - AP

Judging by the children's reactions and engagement, the show was a success Photo: Asle Haukland

Per Kristian Grytdal is a popular figure from Norwegian children's TV. Photo: Asle Haukland - AP

The atmosphere in the hall was electric as the show got underway Photo: Asle Haukland - AP

The objective of the show is to help inspire the next generation of young scientists Photo: Asle Haukland - AP

Judging by the children's reactions and engagement, the show was a success Photo: Asle Haukland

Seeing their own feelings

During the concert performances, the pupils could follow people’s brainwaves live on the big screen on stage. Volunteers from the audience had a brain scanner attached to their heads, making it possible to see how their brains reacted to the music.

One of the volunteers was Statoil's vice president of communications in DPN, Øistein Johannessen.

“I am a little nervous, as I am going to have my brain scanned to see if there is any connection between the right and left hemispheres”, he said. And as the musicians played, the audience could see whether Johannessen was happy, moved or upset by the performance on stage.

“It was great fun seeing how my brain reacted, and it seems there is contact up there”, Johannessen laughed. 

The mad scientist gave up

On stage, the mad scientist fired off explosion after explosion, and if the screams from the audience were anything to go by, the children were having a great time. And although the show is primarily about music and entertainment, there is no doubt that many children in the audience came away inspired to learn more about physics.

“I liked all the explosions. They were really cool! I want to become a researcher because I want to help the world develop new technology and make progress," said Erlend Eskvik, a Year 6 pupil, when the show was over.

And in case you were wondering what happened to the abducted conductor: the story ended well—he was set free, and the scientist accepted that music and physics can coexist in harmony.