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Speaker Kits to Engage Middle Schoolers in Magnetism Science

In February 2024, I-MRSEC investigator Daniel Shoemaker, grad student Emily Waite, and outreach coordinator Pamela Pena Martin taught 35 7th and 8th graders at  Franklin STEAM Academy, a Champaign public middle school, about magnetism through a kit they developed, supported by the I-MRSEC and a grant from the APS Group on Magnetism and its Applications (GMAG). This visit was part of an annual 7-week program that teaches materials science concepts through hands-on activities aimed to build interest and confidence in STEM. Waite created the kits, supported by Shoemaker and Pena Martin, and the team led the lesson for two classrooms.

The kits were developed to be suitable for use in classroom settings with limited time, support, and funds. They are based on 3D printed components, designed to make the process easier for students, and the remaining parts are inexpensive and readily available (e.g., styrofoam bowls and cups). The lesson guides, 3D printer files, and supply list are available on the I-MRSEC website for anyone to freely access and use. Waite presented about the project at the 2024 APS March Meeting, supported by the I-MRSEC.