Living in a material world

On Feb. 3, hundreds of elementary and middle-school aged students and their families gathered around tables for hands-on demonstrations and workshops with themes ranging from “bouncy balls and borax” to “muggle magic.”

The demonstrations were part of the eighth annual Philly Materials Science and Engineering Day, a daylong festival hosted this year by Penn’s Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter (LRSM) and the Drexel University Materials Science Department.

Sixty-five graduate and undergraduate students, postdocs, and faculty from Penn filled nearly half of the Philly Materials Day demo tables. In all, 12 groups affiliated with the LRSM participated. Eric Stach, a professor of materials science and engineering at Penn, performed feats of levitation using high temperature superconductor materials, while Ph.D. candidate Lisa Mariani, from Kevin Turner’s mechanical engineering and applied mechanics lab, explored sticky materials’ properties using everyday materials like strips of scotch tape.

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