Materials science is a fascinating area of research that is often at the cutting edge of science and engineering. It involves both developing new materials and improving on existing ones, and has important applications both for improving daily life and for advancing other fields of research. You can try your hand at making and testing all kinds of substances from plastic to slime.

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Lesson Plan Grade: 3rd-8th
Coming up with new ideas is hard! How do engineers design new things or improve existing ones? Engineers and inventors use different brainstorming techniques to help them think outside the box and come up with new ideas. In this lesson plan, your students will practice brainstorming with a method called SCAMPER. Read more
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Lesson Plan Grade: 1st
In this lesson, students explore firsthand what transparent, translucent, and opaque mean, and how they are related to light. They will place a variety of materials in front of an illuminated object and predict if and how well they will be able to see the object through the material sheet. In doing that, students will realize that different materials allow different amounts of light to pass through. Remote learning: This lesson plan can be conducted remotely. The Engage section of the… Read more
NGSS Performance Expectations:
  • 1-PS4-3. Plan and conduct investigations to determine the effect of placing objects made with different materials in the path of a beam of light.
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Lesson Plan Grade: 6th-8th
How does light interact with matter? In this fun hands-on lesson, your students explore how different materials transmit, absorb and/or reflect light. They create their own experiments to demonstrate these phenomena and use a phones' built-in light sensor and a sensor app to add quantitative data to their arguments. Read more
NGSS Performance Expectations:
  • MS-PS4-2. Develop and use a model to describe that waves are reflected, absorbed, or transmitted through various materials.
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Lesson Plan Grade: 6th-8th
In this lesson, students are challenged to design and build a controlled-release tablet, which will be made from different colored bath tablets and a variety of water-soluble plastics. First, they will have to test the properties of each of the different plastic materials. Then their task will be to create a tablet that releases three different colors, each at a pre-determined time after the tablet has been submerged in water. As students design and build their controlled-release tablets, they… Read more
NGSS Performance Expectations:
  • MS-PS1-2. Analyze and interpret data on the properties of substances before and after the substances interact to determine if a chemical reaction has occurred.

  • MS-ETS1-3. Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.
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Lesson Plan Grade: 9th-12th
In this fun, engaging activity, students are introduced to a unique type of fluid "ferrofluids" whose shape can be influenced by magnetic fields! Students act as materials engineers and create their own ferrofluids. They are challenged to make magnetic ink out of ferrofluids and test their creations to see if they work. Concurrently, they learn more about magnetism, surfactants and nanotechnology. As they observe fluid properties as a standalone-fluid and under an imposed magnetic… Read more
NGSS Performance Expectations:
  • HS-PS2-6.. Communicate scientific and technical information about why the molecular-level structure is important in the functioning of designed materials.
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Lesson Plan Grade: 1st-2nd
Plastic, metal, wood, and stone. We encounter many different materials every day. Each object around us is made of a specific material. Why are they not all made from the same material? The answer is that every material has different properties; some are hard and others are soft, some are transparent and others are opaque. For each product that is produced, the material from which it is made determines many of its properties. This is why material testing is so important. These tests allow… Read more
NGSS Performance Expectations:
  • 2-PS1-1. Plan and conduct an investigation to describe and classify different kinds of materials by their observable properties.
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Lesson Plan Grade: 9th-12th
Engineering silver nanoparticles for use in water filters has shown promising results in keeping water free of disinfection byproducts that arise after chlorination. In this activity, the students do individual research to learn about nanotechnology and silver nanoparticles, and how silver nanoparticles can be used in water treatment. Students choose a plant of their choice (from home, school, or from the teacher) to use as an agent to reduce silver nitrate into silver… Read more
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Lesson Plan Grade: 3rd-5th
In this activity, students learn how engineers use solar energy to heat buildings by investigating the thermal storage properties of some common materials: sand, salt, water and shredded paper. Students then evaluate the usefulness of each material as a thermal storage material to be used as the thermal mass in a passive solar building.Engineering Connection Engineers design technologies that can turn sunlight into electricity to power households and businesses. For example,… Read more
NGSS Performance Expectations:
  • 4-PS3-2. Make observations to provide evidence that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and electric currents.
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Free science fair projects.