2016 Grant Awards

MRS University Chapter Special Project Awards

Bar-Ilan University and Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel
Outreach-Public Sector, Senior Citizens and Teens

South Dakota State University
MRS SDSU Chapter Lecture Series

Stanford University
Art of Science

Universidad de la República, Uruguay
Materials Science Open D-Professional Experiences

University of Cologne, Germany
Day Workshop for Advanced Materials Characterization

University of Connecticut
Collaborative Seminar Series, Outreach Efforts and Industry Visits

University of Maryland and University of North Carolina
Graduate Student Exchange

University of North Carolina
Outreach-Departmental and Local High School Program

University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus
Distinguished Lecture- Transition Metal and Rare Earth Doped Wide Bandgap Semiconductors for Optoelectronic and Spintronic Applications

University of Vermont
Outreach-Workshops at Several Vermont High Schools

Grassroots Grant Recipients

Chemistry on Computers in Kenya (CCK)
Philip P. Rodenbough, NYU Abu Dhabi
Agatha Wagutu, Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology

Materials science education is evolving rapidly.  Educators from all around the world are moving away from standard lectures and note-copying and towards a digital pedagogy. Kenya, itself, is on the cusp of a technological revolution in education and is positioning itself to be a regional leader in the field.  The country’s national government has begun incorporating tablets into its primary education system with hopes of preparing elementary-aged, scientifically-inclined students to advance their education and lead independent research projects.

In order to fill the gap between primary school and a college education, the Chemistry on Computers in Kenya project has a goal to develop computer-based curriculums for secondary school labs which incorporate modeling, simulation, visualization and virtual experiments into the chemistry classroom. This project will help instructors to overcome the challenge of manually developing teaching models and explaining abstract concepts, allowing them more time to plan supplemental activities, all the while building chemistry lessons for students that are more interesting and relatable.  The lesson plans themselves will be applicable in many different settings, but tailored to the Kenyan national curriculum.  They will focus on an array of applications in chemistry, featuring relevant scientific topics such as solar panels and clean water.

Lesson plans will be published in a suitable journal and will be made freely available online and within the personal networks of project leaders.  The programs will be downloadable and installable via USB key, and will be compatible with hardware/OS currently used in Kenyan classrooms.

Promoting Interests in Energy Researches: Developing a Low-Cost Potentiostat for African Universities as a Teaching Tool
Yuguang C. Li, The Pennsylvania State University

African universities face many obstacles in developing their Electrochemistry research programs due to the lack of equipment and practical research training for graduate and undergraduate students. Electrochemistry experiments require hardware called potentiostats to monitor the charge and discharge behavior of electrochemical devices and to collect cyclic voltammetry (CV) data. These powerful instruments can be used in many areas of research such as photoelectrochemistry, electrocatalysis, electroanalytical, contaminant detection, and electrodeposition, all of which are directly related to common needs in Africa. Often, however, the necessary hardware is unaffordable to the students and their universities, costing thousands of dollars or more.

Understanding the basic underlining principles of electron transfer is the first step for African students to participate in innovative research, and the integration of the electrochemistry experiments into undergraduate curriculum will bolster interest in students who want to pursue a material science career. Thus, the Promoting Interests in Energy Researches project has developed a low-cost, versatile potentiostat based on an Arduino circuit board microcontroller and has designed five introductory experiments utilizing the potentiostat for African graduate and undergraduate curriculums.  The experiments are designed in so that they introduce the fundamental electroanalytical techniques suitable for beginning materials scientists.  Unlike their expensive, commercially-available counterparts, each Arduino potentiostat and the materials for the introductory experiments is estimated to be less than $100 per module. MRS Grassroots funding has allowed for potentiostats to be sent to 10 African universities. 

Melter for Establishment of a Student-Run Hot Glass Shop  
Geoff Brennecka, Colorado School of Mines

Macroscale hands-on learning experiences are becoming more and more difficult to integrate into undergraduate materials curricula. One way to deliver such beneficial experiences is to provide fun and informal activities in which students will engage voluntarily, far from the drudgery of required labs. Hot glass shops and working foundries are excellent examples of these kinds of facilities that can provide both supplemental hands-on experiences and an artistic outlet for materials students. Both are also tremendous tools for exposing the rest of campus and the local general public to the science, art, and engineering of the materials discipline; as such, they also serve as powerful outreach and recruiting tools. The Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering at the Colorado School of Mines currently has a working foundry within which the students run (with faculty oversight) a 'free-pour Fridays' program that opens the foundry to use by anyone across campus and, for select days throughout the year, the general public. The project leads, and many additional faculty and students, wish to build upon this model by adding a hot glass shop for students to blow and work hot glass. This facility will help link traditional skills with modern understanding, increase content retention, and increase appreciation among students and the general public alike for the history, importance, and promise of the materials discipline. The request here is for funding to purchase the primary glass melting furnace. Matching funds will be used for a glory hole furnace and complex accessories that cannot be fabricated in house.

What materials do for our world?  Increasing awareness of materials science among traditionally underrepresented minority college and school students, and school teachers in New York City
German Kolmakov, New York City College of Technology of the City University of New York

According to the MRS Mission, the core values of the Society are to be visionary, broadly inclusive and egalitarian. In accordance with recent studies, growing disparities exist in access to science classes in New York City (NYC) schools; it strongly depends on demographic factors including race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status. For example, the percentage of African-American and Hispanic students in schools that offer physics is 38% lower than the citywide average. To address this inequity, research-active teaching faculty members of NYC College of Technology (City Tech) of the City University of New York (CUNY), working in the fields of biomaterials, material chemistry and photonic materials, propose to organize activities that will broadly involve college students, high school students and high school teachers in materials science-related activities including a Materials Science Forum, Materials Research Contest and Materials Science Web Project. The goal of these activities is to provide an unprecedented opportunity for NYC college and high school students, especially those traditionally underrepresented in science, technology, math and engineering (STEM), and their teachers, to become aware of the contemporary materials science advancements, to actively participate in materials science projects, and to become informed about the MRS mission and activities.

Vision India: GenY Applied Sciences Network
Darshana Joshi, University of Cambridge, Department of Physics (Cavendish Laboratory), UK  

The goal of this project is to assess the needs of students in various rural and urban settings in India and introduce them to the wonderful world of scientific research across a breadth of disciplines.

A number of research scholars, all from India and enjoying scientific pursuits in natural sciences at various universities across the globe, came together last year to conduct a series of workshops titled Science Outreach India—"A Fun Day with Science" in various towns/cities across India. This year we wish to conduct another series of workshops titled "It's a MATERIALISTIC world!!"-addressing a yet unreached and vast mass of students (year 6-year 12 of school education) in the Indian community, again in urban and rural settings. We plan to conduct the following workshops during September 2016-January 2017:

  1. a three-day residential camp on materials science for approximately 100-150 orphaned students-residents of Udayan Care, a not-for-profit organization headquartered in Delhi.  The students will experience interactive, lecture-based demonstrations, hands-on activities, virtual lab tours and computer visualization-all from leading Indian scientists and our team of research scholars.
  2. a two-day residential workshop, held in collaboration with His Holiness the Dalai Lama's Trust, Empowering the Vision Project, for select students from various Tibetan Children's Village schools
  3. a day-long workshop for Muslim girls enrolled in secondary and higher-secondary education (years 10-12 of school education) in Aligarh, a town famous for the Aligarh Muslim University, and yet, where a substantially low number of women are enrolled in undergraduate and postgraduate science studies
  4. a series of 10 half-day workshops in remote areas of India-lecture-based demonstrations and hands-on activities for children in year 6 to year 12 of school education (mostly by our team members only).

Any remaining funds will be used to conduct day-long workshops in various other rural schools of India.

The Wonderful World of Materials—Afterschool Care Enrichment
Larry Nagahara, Johns Hopkins University

This project will expose primarily elementary school students (3rd-5th grades) to the exciting world of materials and the importance that materials research play in creating solutions that benefit our lives. The setting consists of afterschool care locations close to Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD), which includes areas that were impacted by the 2015 riots, as well as surrounding counties in Maryland that don't offer science enrichment as part their afterschool care program. The unique aspect of this project is that it will solicit volunteer high school students (9th-12th grades) and volunteer professional material scientists (a mixture of recent retirees and employed researchers) to design and instruct in tandem a highly interactive instructional module for discussions and simple hands-on experiments/demonstrations. Another unique aspect is that high school students are both mentors (to the primary-grade students) and mentees (from the professional material scientists) in this project. More importantly, students from underrepresented, low-income households, or with limited access to extra science activities, will be inspired to explore the wonderful world of materials around them and perhaps further their studies in materials science and engineering.

The Materials Research Society Foundation operates as a program of the Materials Research Society. The official registration and financial information of the Materials Research Society Foundation may be obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of State by calling toll free, within Pennsylvania, 800-732-0999. Registration does not imply endorsement.

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