Learning Science through the World of Materials

The Soft Materials Research Center (SMRC), an interdisciplinary research unit of the University of Colorado, is partnering with Science From CU to bring programs, assemblies and kits based on materials science. A Center mission is to enhance science literacy and achievement. Thus we offer innovative and experiential opportunities for science education, and focus on increasing participation of underrepresented groups in science.

The study of materials not generally recognized as a distinct area of science. However, its multi-disciplinary nature and close connection with everyday life makes materials research an excellent context for bringing physical science concepts into the classroom. Materials, such as metals, alloys, glass, ceramics, fibers, and so on have been used by mankind for millennia, and have, in fact, shaped entire civilizations. They have been considered of such importance that historians have named periods of civilization (Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age) after the materials that were predominately utilized at that time. Each material has a unique combination of mechanical, electrical, and thermal properties that derive from its molecular organization. The incredible diversity of properties available enables demonstrations and experiments that relate scientific concepts in dramatic fashion, and provide clear distinctions and concrete realizations of physical science concepts.



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