Materials Camp for High School Students

By Amber Genau

University of Alabama at Birmingham



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These activities were all developed for the Materials Camp program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), which began in 2011. The camp is a five-day, non-residential program designed to introduce mostly local 10th-12th grade students to the field of materials engineering and the opportunities available to study engineering at UAB. Not all activities are specific to materials engineering, and many could be adapted for younger or older students in a variety of contexts.

Activity List:

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  • Amber Genau (2020), "Materials Camp for High School Students,"

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In This Series

  1. Materials Matching Mixer Activity

    29 Jun 2020 | Teaching Materials | Contributor(s): Amber Genau

    This materials-themed ice breaker activity is great for the first day of a camp program to get students thinking about basic material properties, as well as talking to each other and speaking out loud in front of the group.  The name of a common engineering material (steel, rubber, concrete,...

  2. Engineering Communication with Tinker Toys

    29 Jun 2020 | Teaching Materials | Contributor(s): Amber Genau

    This resource describes three variations on an engineering communication activity using Tinker Toys.  In the main activity, small groups of students are given a bag of Tinker Toys and instructed to build anything they like.  They are then asked to write down building instructions for...

  3. Pineapple Packaging Design Challenge

    29 Jun 2020 | Teaching Materials | Contributor(s): Amber Genau

    This activity asks students to work in teams to consider the pros and cons of different materials as a container for cut pineapple (metal can plastic jar, glass jar).  It reinforces the differences between different categories of material, weighing conflicting factors to reach a design...

  4. Balloon Skewer Relay Race

    29 Jun 2020 | Teaching Materials | Contributor(s): Amber Genau

    Do you think you could get a bamboo barbecue skewer through a balloon without popping it?  With a little dish soap and some practice, I bet you could!  Skewering a balloon is a fun and inexpensive way to demonstrate the structure-dependent properties of polymers. Polymers are made...

  5. Model Rockets and Composite Materials: Design, Build, Launch

    27 May 2021 | Teaching Materials | Contributor(s): Amber Genau

    Students will gain experience with polymer matrix fiber composites, composite production, and the tradeoffs inherent in the engineering design process by designing, building and launching their own model rocket.  Composite materials are created via hand layup and vacuum assisted resin...