The innovation engine for new materials

It's a Material World!

Five different hands-on activities inspire inquiry into Materials Science related topics and emphasize the fascinating nature of science! This program is available for elementary school science nights. Students and parents will explore the world of materials in five different stations presented by MRL graduate students while learning about present and future applications of the materials.

Magic Sand
This sand is not really magic. It is ordinary sand that has been dyed and coated with a special substance (a silicon compound). This makes it hydrophobic, or “water fearing” and therefore it repels water. The sand has some interesting properties that students can explore.

Heat Sensitive Materials
Students explore different kinds of heat sensitive materials: Thermo-chromatic paper, containing a heat-sensitive dye, looks like ordinary paper until one holds it between hands. The temperature of the hand causes the dye to turn colorless, leaving a white handprint that fades away when the paper cools down.
Black plastic plates filled with liquid crystals create beautiful colors at different temperature ranges.

Memory Wire
A memory wire is an alloy that “remembers” its geometry. Our wire is made of nickel-titanium. Students will bend the wire into different shapes and then observe how it jumps back into its original form (straight) when heated in a water bath at 60C.

Sodium Polyacrylate
Sodium polyacrylate is a white powder that absorbs water rapidly up to 1000 times its weight! This is also the material used in baby diapers. Students have fun finding out the absorbence capacity of the powder and learn something about polymers as well.

Ferro Fluids
Ferrofluids are tiny magnetic iron oxide particles usually with a diameter of 10 nanometers or less. They exhibit simultaneous liquid and superparamagnetic properties (magnetic fluid) and are an incredible way to demonstrate magnetic fields. By using a strong magnet students explore the properties of the ferrous liquid.


Here is a list of some of the local schools where we recently presented our workshop.

Name of School Date
Isla Vista Elementary Science Night May
Washington Elementary School Science Night April
Vieja Valley Elementary School Science Night April
Hollister Elementary School Science Night March
Hope Elementary School Science Night March
Ellwood Elementary School Science Night February
Foothill Elementary School Science Night January
Monte Vista School Science Night January
La Patera School Science Night November
Coastline Christian Academy Science Night November
Kellogg School Science Night October
Washington School Science Night April
Goleta Family School Science Night April
Brandon School Science Night March
Hope School Science Night March
Mountain View School Science Night March

For more information or to schedule an event please contact our education coordinator Julie Standish.