The innovation engine for new materials

2012 Workshop

The focus of the 2012 science teacher workshop was Engaging interest through novel materials and inquiry-based activities and demonstrations for the science classroom. Our workshops target upper elementary teachers, junior high teachers as well as secondary science teachers.
During the first part of the workshop our RET teachers presented their curriculum models. Powerpoint files of the teacher presentations can be found at their RET project pages and the actual curriculum projects are available below.
The second part of the workshop focused on a series of materials-science related activities and demonstrations titled “Materials for inquiry- materials science in your classroom”. Please contact Frank Kinnaman for any of these files in .doc format or with any other questions about other MRL educational resources.

Workshop Material: 

  • Kevin Cozzoli - Getting Dirty: Turning 6th Graders into Soil Scientists
  • James Jackson - Real Inquiry: Integrating the New Common Core and Health Standards into your existing lessons and labs
  • Jannine Tuttle - Incorporating Inquiry: Students as Scientists
  • Jenny Willis - Bringing "Life" back to Life Science

Materials for Inquiry : 

Wearable Materials

This is a set of materials science related activities centering on our primary interface with our environment – clothing!

A space age material with everyday applications, aerogel is a naturally fascinating topic for the science classroom
Download file here

Phase Change Materials
The latent heat released and absorbed by water during its phase changes is a classic chemistry topic, these wearable materials convey the same process but at room temperature!
Download file here

Piezoelectric Materials
Piezoelectric technology is very common but is also an area of active research.  For example recently developed piezoelectric devices can "harvest" electrical energy from mechanical vibrations (historically a form of wasted energy).
Download file here

Assorted Wearable Materials
Other interesting materials science related materials including super absorbent fibers, temperature sensitive cloth, suction cup tape and non-slip surface.
Download file here

TEVA Materials
Designers from Teva presented the technology in their shoes at the 2012 science teacher workshop!  for more info please visit their technology page!


Background information and classroom appropriate activities covering this exciting recent breakthrough in materials science.  Activites can also apply towards basic electronic circuits curricula.  

Graphene Exfoliation
Use the same method as the recent Nobel prize winners to isolate graphene from graphite!
Download file here

Business Card Flashlight
Electrically conductive paint utilizes the conductive properties of multi-layer graphene (aka graphite) to conduct electricity.  Here is an example of one of many possible classroom projects to explore the paint.
Download file here

Graphite Potentiometer
Potentiometers are a type of variable resistor (or knob) all around us.  Here use graphite to create your own potentiometer.
Download file here

For another great graphite potentiometer activity see Jesse Kasehagens curriculum project:  Exploring graphite potentiometers

Photonic Crystals

Natural and synthetic photonic crystals are a visually engaging materials science topic.

Natural Photonics
Explore iridescence in nature.
Download file here

Synthetic Photonics
Polystyrene microspheres of the proper diameter interact with visible light to produce interference patterns!
Download file here

Thin Films
Polymer films and the rainbow of colors seen on an oil sheen is an easily accessible way to discuss thin films and constructive interference of light waves.
Download file here