FEMMES: Through engaging, hands-on activities presented in a fun, supportive environment, FEMMES programs encourage girls to learn and explore their potential in science, technology, math and engineering (STEM). Our goal is to promote involvement in STEM by building curiosity and increasing confidence in girls’ academic skills so they may pursue their dreams without hesitation. Both parents and teachers often comment that after attending FEMMES events, girls become more motivated, participate more in class, and show a greater interest in school. Each FEMMES event features a series of experiential learning activities led by University of Michigan faculty and student volunteers. More information is available from https://www.femmes.studentorgs.umich.edu/
The Ferroelectronics lab has joined with FEMMES to help with demos about piezoelectric materials and why these kinds of functional materials are important. In our event, students learned how to make Rochelle salt, a piezoelectric crystal that they can grow at home in the kitchen, and saw how the piezoelectric effect can be used, both by measuring it directly with an oscilloscope, and building electrical circuits using these materials that turn on an LED or make a sound.
Washtenaw Elementary Science Olympiad (WESO) aims to improve the quality of science education, increase student interest in science and provide recognition for outstanding achievement by students in science education. The Washtenaw Elementary Science Olympiad (WESO) was founded for the elementary school children in Washtenaw County. For more please visit their website: http://wesoscience.org
John led their workshops titled “May the Force be With You” (Grades 4 and 5). They discussed and demonstrated forces acting on an object and what happens to that object as a result. They used simple machines (wedge, lever, pulley, inclined plane, wheel and axle) to demonstrate how use of these machines can reduce work required to perform tasks. They identified common objects that incorporate these machines. They also demonstrated and performed measurements for force, distance and time.
These students are the future of science and require attention at the faculty level to inspire and to address their very astute and advanced questions. As an example, one student asked John what was the means and medium by which gravity travels.
REU and High School Research Programs: The University of Michigan provides research opportunities for those at the High School and Undergraduate levels through their materials research center, C-PHOM. The students will partake in research in the lab and are provided faculty mentorship in addition to financial support. If this is of interest to you, more can be found at http://cphom.engin.umich.edu/education-and-outreach/
MSE Department Programs: Xplore Engineering is an outreach event designed for alumni and the children in their life entering the 4th through 7th grade. Through a series of experiential workshops, participants get hands-on experience in a variety of engineering disciplines. Through the materials science department, Peter helped run the eXtraordinary Materials workshop where kids got to investigate the structure of common materials through optical and electron microscopy and learn about how materials can behave unexpectedly at really hot or really cold temperatures. Demos included heating a space shuttle tile with a blowtorch, heating an iron wire and observing the high temperature phase change, and cooling rubber through the glass transition temperature with liquid nitrogen so it becomes more brittle and eventually shatters.
Research Education and Activities for Classroom Teachers (REACT) is an event where grade school teachers from around Michigan can come and attend workshops to participate in materials science labs that they can then take back to their respective classrooms. Peter helped develop and run the “Introduction to Composite Materials” demo at REACT, where students (teachers) made their own composite concrete mixtures and tested the mechanical properties. The goal of the lab is to get students thinking about how different reinforcement materials can impart different properties into the composites and about how to optimize a material for a given application.