Outside of my lab work, I really enjoy reaching out to the community to share science, whether through writing, public speaking, or through public demonstrations. Over the years I've had great fun working with a number of different groups, including the organizers of the annual Philly Materials Day and STEM education outreach through the Mid-Columbia STEM Education Collaboratory in Tri-Cities, WA.
On this page you can learn more about some of these activities. Feel free to contact me if you'd like to learn more or are interested in hosting your own outreach activities.
A three-story carbon nanotube
For more information see:
Teaching biomimetics through microscopy
Based in southeastern Washington state, the Mid-Columbia STEM Education Collaboratory is a partnership between Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Delta High School, the Yakima Valley/Tri-Cities Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement (MESA) Center, and the Southeast Washington Leadership and Assistance for Science Education Reform (LASER) Alliance. We sponsor a variety of STEM education outreach efforts, work with schools and families to enrich students' lives.
I have been fortunate to help lead our efforts to increase microscopy and materials science education in the Tri-Cities area. We typically hold demonstrations for students at local parks and schools, introducing them to concepts of scale, observation, and connecting structure to properties. The curriculum we have developed can be adapted to all age levels and we are always looking for opportunities to expand our efforts.
Our program has been tremendously successful and rewarding, gaining recognition throughout the state. We have improved the lives of hundreds of children, many of whom have gone on to pursue education in STEM fields. We are currently looking to adapt our model to other parts of Washington state, partnering with new schools, museums, and organizations.
Back in 2011 Drexel decided to host a citywide science fair dedicated to condensed matter physics. In collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania and the Franklin Institute, we assembled a group of scientists, graduate students, and volunteers to run exhibits for hundreds of children from around the greater Philadelphia area.
We organized a number of demonstrations of exciting materials phenomena, including superconductivity, glassy transitions in polymers, liquid crystals, and more. Many of these were generously provided by the National Science Foundation's Nanodays Program.
In addition, we conducted tours of our labs and microscopes, such as our dual-beam focused ion beam and scanning electron microscope. I had the chance to demo these instruments hands-on for children in ages ranging from elementary to high schoolers. We discuss the difference between electron and optical microscopy, look at high-resolution images of insects, and pattern video game characters using a focused ion beam microscope.
We've been running this event several years in a row now and the feedback has been tremendously positive from both parents and children alike. It's been incredibly rewarding to spark curiosity in these children's lives and to see them return year after year.
For more information see:
Making liquid nitrogen ice cream
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