It’s a liquid. It’s a solid. Wait. It’s both. It’s a soquid — a solid liquid.
When the schoolteachers attending a materials science camp organized by Wright State University, Central State University and the University of Dayton mixed the mysterious white powder with water, that’s just what they got.
“This is weird, wild stuff,” said camp facilitator Jessica Clark. “This non-Newtonian fluid does not follow Isaac Newton’s laws of physics. When the teachers poured it into their hands, it dripped off. But as soon as they squeezed it, it got hard again.”
The ASM advanced manufacturing and materials camp, held this year at Central State, is designed to teach teachers about materials science and how to teach it to their students.
The one-week ASM camp is followed by a five-week Research Experience for Teachers (RET) camp, where the teachers will take part in research in labs at Wright State, Central State and the University of Dayton. The RET collaboration is funded by a $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.
“At the camp we’re doing hands-on lab activities to give the teachers ideas for their classrooms so they can get their students excited about engineering, excited about science,” said Clark, who along with Ed Escudero of Summit Country Day School in Cincinnati facilitates the camp. “They will leave with a whole bag of resources they can take and use in their classrooms.”
Attending this year’s camp were about 30 teachers from area middle- and high schools — including Kettering, Troy and Waynesville — as well as students and faculty from the three universities.
Ahsan Mian, an associate engineering professor at Wright State, said the camp is designed to inspire the next generation of talented students in advanced manufacturing and materials.
“The only way to do this is to train the teachers first, who can go back to the classroom and talk about this area of study,” Mian said. “That way we can get manufacturing back in the state of Ohio.”
Raghu Srinivasan, an engineering professor at Wright State, said Ohio has lost much of its manufacturing base, which had been the core of the state’s economy.
“So we are now looking at new manufacturing methods,” he said. “And the key to that is understanding how the materials you use to make things behave.”
Mian said materials science and advanced manufacturing are related.
“In some cases, you may need to develop new materials for advanced manufacturing,” he said.
The camps were started about a dozen years ago by ASM International, which was founded as the American Society for Metals. This is the eighth year that a camp has been held in the Dayton area.
“There is a big push to bring engineering design into our local school districts,” said Leanne Petry, an assistant professor of chemistry at Central State.
Srinivasan believes that the camps have attracted more students to careers in materials and advanced manufacturing.
Clark, a teacher at Pioneer Career and Technology Center in Shelby, Ohio, rolled out nine sections of materials science at Pioneer in 2012. She says about a dozen of her students have gone on to pursue careers in materials science.
“My kids love materials science so much that they will come back and ask if I’ll write a pass to get them out of all of their other classes just so they can do the labs again,” she said