• 2023 Philly Materials Day

2023 Philly Materials Day

Faculty, students, and staff from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS), and the School of Arts and Sciences (SAS), participated in the 12th annual Philly Materials Day, hosted at Drexel University, on February 11, 2023.  The event’s primary objective was to educate K-12 students on how the materials that they use on a daily basis impact the world, and excite their interest in the STEM field.

Student engaged in lab demonstration at Philly Materials day. Photo by Felice Macera

Photo by Felice Macera

Eric Stach, Director of the Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter (LRSM), oversaw this year’s event on behalf of Penn, who provided 15 of the 34 demonstrations. The hands-on exhibits showcased the diverse scope of materials, including metals, composites, and plastics, and how they can be used in a variety of applications, such as displays, light guiding, food, superconductors, shape morphing, biomedicals, water storage, smart fabrics, and sustainability. Of course, there were many classic, fun activities, such as ice cream making, and running on an oobleck.

Mark Licurse, Director of Education and Outreach at LRSM, commented, “What’s exciting in science and technology these days has a connection to materials. The key for us is to develop good ways to show these links and get kids excited.”

The turnout for the event, a day before the Super Bowl, was electric. “Since the event was planned several months in advance, and with the Philadelphia Eagles playing in the game, we weren’t quite sure what to expect. It seems the interest in science and technology was quite strong and the turnout was pretty incredible,” remarked Kun-Hao Yu,  a postdoctoral fellow from the Shu Yang Group.

Philly Materials day 2023 student volunteers

Photo by Felice Macera.

Among the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, the Composto, Murray, Stach, and Yang groups, with Steven Szewczyk overseeing the undergraduate group have contributed to various demos.  “Philly Materials Day provided an excellent opportunity for young students to learn and be inspired by materials science,” a Penn student remarked.

Provided below is a list of all Penn Philly Materials Day contributors.

Faculty School Department/Center Demo Title
Lee Bassett SEAS ESE Colors, Lasers, Fluorescence, and Computer Screens
Rob Carpick SEAS MEAM Tribology: The Science of Friction
Russell Composto SEAS MSE Shrinking Polymers
Zahra Fakhraai  SAS Chemistry Fun with lights and glasses 
Ekaterina Grishchuk SEAS LRSM Why is blood liquid in our arteries but it clots quickly in laboratory tubes?
Chris Murray SEAS MSE Visualizing Nanoscale Materials
E. James Petersson SAS Chemistry Bright Molecules for Brain Studies
Jordan Raney SEAS MEAM The Utility of Instability
Eric Stach SEAS LRSM/MSE Superconducting Levitation
Kathleen Stebe SEAS CBE Introduction to Liquid Crystals
Steven Szewczyk SEAS MSE Non-Newtonian Fluids
Kevin Turner SEAS MEAM Sticky Materials
Liang Wu SAS Physics and Astronomy  Electromagnetism Demonstration
Shu Yang SEAS MSE Origami /Kirigami and hydrogels
Arjun Yodh SAS Physics and Astronomy  What is an Emulsion?