PCCM celebrated its annual Holiday Lecture 2020: "A Materials Wonderland: A Celebration of How Materials Science Make Our Holidays Fun" with PCCM faculty, research members and others providing (virtual) materials science presentations. The audience helped with experiments and demonstrations from their homes. 426 families registered, some with multiple children (tuning from all over the world), resulting in ~1,000 attendees!
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 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 MRSEC at Princeton.