The innovation engine for new materials

Melissa Wilder


Riviera Ridge

Grade Level: 

Junior High

Teaching Position: 

General Science


Rachel Segalman




Audra Destefano

Research Project Year: 


Research Project Title: 

Self Assembly of Polymers

Research Project Description: 

This research explored self assembly of peptoids in solutions - once understood, this area could lead to new, diverse applications for polymer engineering. In Study 1 we aim to measure the self assembly of three synthetic polypetoids by documenting their micelle size as well as their size distributions. Secondly, we hope to control ionic micellular structure using a monomer sequence.  Our work contributes to the body of work on self-assembly by documenting the size distribution of polypeptoids: N-n-decl-glycine (Ndc), N-2-carbozyethyl-glycine (Nce) and  N-2-methoxyethylgycine (Nme).  Then in Study 2 we aim to measure the water dynamics around a charged polypeptoid by documenting water movement around the electron spin label.

Curriculum Project Year: 


Curriculum Project Title: 

Slime: Engineering Polymers

Curriculum Project Description: 

Matter is everything. Over time, humans have learned to engineer matter to suit our needs. Based off my experience engineering polymers at UCSB Material Science Lab, I created this four lesson unit to explore matter, practice measurement, and introduce students to scientific practices and design thinking. Since, the world is need of innovation, I’ve employed two educational philosophies (constructivism and design thinking) in this unit that teach creativity, innovation, and the practice of invention.

In this study, we will first explore states of matter and determine physical and chemical properties. Next we explore Newtonian vs. non-newtonian fluids to define polymers and learn about chemical structure. Then, we engineer polymers using design thinking.

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