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Holiday Lecture

The PCCM Holiday Lecture series is modeled on a famous set of presentations first given to children a century ago as part of the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures in London. The lectures highlight science in an engaging and fun forum for children age 7 and up. This event, which is free and open to the public, brings science to the community through experiments, audience participation, and highlights from current research. The lecture is a collaborative effort of the NSF MRSEC at Harvard and the NSF PCCM at Princeton.

Holiday Lecure 2021 - Let it Flow: A Festival About Fluids
This year's topic was a celebration of fluids that are a part of our everyday lives. There is the water that flows from a faucet, the syrup you pour on pancakes, the winds and rains that are part of big storms. You can think about the air that flows out of the hole in a flat tire, or the hot candle wax you pour in a mold. We investigated some of these common fluids that are all around us, then went into the lab and checked out some not-so-everyday fluids that behaved very strangely. The presentation was designed for children ages 7 and up and their families, but all were welcomed to join and learn something new! The virtual event was a great success with 447 families registered (an audience of 1000+). 2021 video recording.

Holiday Lecure 2020: A Materials Wonderland
One demo that was super fun was testing how a rubber ball bounced when warm versus when cold. The ball was bounced at room temperature first, then after being frozen in liquid nitrogen, the results were compared. Additionally, the ball was hit with a hammer at both room temperature and after being frozen with liquid nitrogen. The results were shown with a super slow-motion camera so that the families could see how the ball deformed itself and molded shape to bounce back! The kids absolutely loved when the ball was hit with a hammer after being frozen in liquid nitrogen, and shattered into multiple pieces. Not something you see every day! The virtual event had 426 families registered (an audience of 1000+). 2020 video recording.

Holiday Lecture 2019: Ice Cream for Science: A Legen-dairy Experience!
Led by Prof. Howard Stone, this family-friendly science show included experiments, demos, and audience participation, while focusing on the physics and chemistry of ice and ice cream. This year, everybody got the inside scoop! We cone-ducted a variety of experiments, including: observing what happens when salt interacts with ice, how supercooled, carbonated liquids freeze when agitated, how different liquids foam, and how ice cream reacts when pressure is decreased. Kids in the audience also had the opportunity to participate in several interactive demos, while attendees learned how they can make their own tasty ice cream at home. 2019 video recording.

Previous lectures and recordings: 
2018: The Science of Pizza: It's a Little Cheezy
2017: Hold Your Temper! Celebrating the Science of Chocolate
2016: Science in a Bubble: Illuminating Interfaces
2015: A Grain of Salt: Isn't it Ionic?" (Photos / Program / Announcement Flyer)
2014: DNA: A Detective Story" (Program / Announcement Flyer)
2013: Faster than the Blink of an Eye
2012: Let There be Light: A Celebration of Color
2011: Powerful Potential: The Gift of Energy
2010: Good Vibrations: How We Communicate
2009: Germs! A Detective Story

Education Program Type: 
Kindergarten-Grade 12 (K-12)