Engaging Families in Materials Science:
Holiday Science Virtual Lecture for Families

Families break dried spaghetti at home

Families break dried spaghetti at home.

U.S. map showing participation in online lecture

U.S. map showing participation in lecture.


A long-standing collaboration between the MRSECs at Harvard and Princeton, the Holiday Science Lecture for Families and Children pivoted to a virtual format in December 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The theme of the 2020 lecture was “A Materials Wonderland: A Celebration of How Materials Science Makes our Holidays Fun.” The virtual presentation engaged over 330 families, including 446 children, in interactive experiments that showcased the importance of materials in our everyday lives. A holiday tradition for many families in the Princeton and Boston communities, this virtual format allowed the MRSECs to expand their reach to families across the United States and the world, including Spain, Canada, Budapest, Mauritius, and India. Led by Stone and graduate students and staff (including Hollar) at both MRSECs, the presentation included simple experiments that families participated in at home that demonstrated materials properties such brittleness, squishiness, and color.

Kathryn A. Hollar (Engineering & Applied Sciences), and
Howard A. Stone (Princeton MRSEC)
2020-2021 Harvard MRSEC (DMR-2011754)