The trend to expose young kids to science as early as possible is a pretty big deal — so big, in fact, that the White House hosts an annual summit to advance STEM educational opportunities to America's youth, as well as an annual youth science fair, giving budding scientists a chance to share their knowledge and excitement for scientific experimentation and discovery.
The Materials Science and Engineering Center at UW-Eau Claire plays a vital local role in fulfilling this national agenda to bring the wonders and joy of scientific discovery to area youth.
The Materials Science and Engineering Center offers a variety of programs and opportunities for K-12 students to learn about Materials Engineering and Nanotechnology. Each year dozens of presentations are given to school classes and after-school programs. These presentations are typically from 30-45 minutes in length and can be tailored to the age of the students, and are meant to be entertaining as well as educational. The Materials Science and Engineering Center can also provide access to powerful instrumentation for schools to use as part of their curricula. For example, the Scanning Electron Microscope is remotely operable, so the instrument can be used during a class anywhere that has internet access.
Strength of Materials, grades K-3
With the help of Blugold students and faculty, kids will test various materials to see how strong they are. The students make predictions and then test various types of wires and strings to determine their relative strength (strength is determined by the number of water bottles that can be supported). The students learn to take measurements and can use bar graphs to show the relative strengths of cotton thread, polyester thread, aluminum wire, steel wire and Kevlar.
Nanotechnology, grades 4-12
It's the tiniest things that can offer the biggest discoveries! This 30-45 minute presentation shows some of the interesting materials around us. Blugold students and faculty demonstrate how understanding the material structure helps to explain why it functions as it does. This presentation has a strong emphasis on nanotechnology with lots of fun demonstrations. The presentation can be tailored for various levels of student understanding.
NanoDays at the Eau Claire Children's Museum
Each year, the Materials Science and Engineering Center brings the science out into the community through the local celebration of NanoDays. NanoDays is a nationwide festival of educational programs about nanoscale science and engineering and its potential impact on the future. NanoDays events are organized by participants in the Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network and take place at over 200 science museums, research centers, and universities across the country from Puerto Rico to Hawaii. NanoDays engages people of all ages in learning about this emerging field of science, which holds the promise of developing revolutionary materials and technologies.
See Spectator coverage of this fun annual event in their article "NanoDays opens eyes to youth."
For information about or scheduling of any of the Center's youth and community programming, contact Center director at firstname.lastname@example.org.