Submission Date


Document Type



Physics & Astronomy

Faculty Mentor

Casey Schwarz


Presented during the 21st Annual Summer Fellows Symposium, July 19, 2019 at Ursinus College.

Project Description

Materials science is the study of the properties of matter and its applications in optics, chemistry, physics, and civil, electrical, chemical, and mechanical engineering. The broad field of materials science and the complex ideas that can be included in it are typically introduced into formal education at the college level, but recently there has been a push for younger students to also have exposure to materials science. In this project, we used the techniques demonstrated in First Physics to expose students, ages 9-15, to materials science. Our hypothesis was that by using these techniques, higher level concepts can be broken into parts which can be easily learned by younger students through an inquiry-based approach. Questions being asked were: (1) At what age can students learn and apply skills such as modeling instruction? (2) Which pedagogical technique(s) proved most successful? (3) How can we develop a metric for success? To investigate this, our group has designed, built, and implemented a week long summer materials science outreach program. Students for this were selected from local middle and high schools and from underrepresented and minority groups (28 students). In order to measure the progress of the project and demonstrate success, the students were given a questionnaire before and after the camp. We also tracked involvement and growth throughout the camp via observation. Hopefully students from this program have obtained an introduction to fundamental materials science necessary to open their options to, or increase interest in, STEM careers.

Open Access

Available to all.