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Get stuck into our material world

Dr Ann Terry, ISIS, with spider on SANS2d instrument, Experiment RB920512 looked at the production of silk for spiders webs from the Golden Orb Weaving Spider, Nephila edalis. ISIS's Dr Ann Terry, STFC's Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, is seen with a specimen during experiments on the SANS2d instrument, 23rd July 2012.
(Credit: STFC)

Real data online

The discipline of material science is broad to say the least. The following links will take you to citizen science style projects where you can learn and contribute to material science research.

Help solve puzzles related to synthetic biology with Nanocrafter.

Team with scientists to advance synthetic bio research and play a video game to build machines out of DNA

Credit: Centre for Game Science, University of Washington

Help analyse protein folding mechanisms with Foldit. Help discover and predict the structure of a protein and play competitive online game to determine how to fold a protein.

Credit: Science for Citizens LLC

Help develop nanomedicines to treat cancer with NanoDoc. Explore how nanovehicles can cooperate to kill tumours and play an online game to design nanoparticle strategies

Credit: Science for Citizens LLC

Develop, apply open-source tools to environmental exploration and incorporate this DIY spectrometer into your research. Help develop a library of open source spectra to aid material research with the Public Laboratory Spectrometer

Credit: Science for Citizens LLC

Participate in the validation of chemistry on the internet. Help to validate a catalogue of chemical compounds with ChemSpider

Credit: Science for Citizens LLC

Using a special kind of microscope called a scanning tunnelling microscope, or STM, and operating it close to the absolute zero of temperature (-273 Celsius) we are able to study the magnetic properties of individual molecules.

Credit: CrowdCrafting

Activities to try at home

There are a number of activities that you can try at home that link to Material Science. Some of the more intriguing can be found from the following websites!

For general materials based activities check the Strange Matter Exhibit website out.

For activities that you can try at home that link to Nanotechnology have a look at these websites:

The Open Materials website shows some examples of how you can make use of some intriguing new materials – could these form the basis of your own at home science project.

Join in

The Argonne National Lab twitter feed looks at innovative material science with a focus on energy, environment and security challenges.

The Berkeley Lab feed consider science solutions to topics as small as bacteria and as unknown as Dark Matter.

One for the make anything enthusiasts, if you are interested in new materials, new software and new ways to design things then check out Inventables.

The Materials Research Society (MRS) are all about Material. As they say – advancing materials. Improving the quality of life.

The Nature journal’s slant on materials. All tweets are sent by the editors to inform about cutting-edge research in materials science at the interface with physics, chemistry, biology and medicine.


The following links will take you to the events hosted by different Materials Groups around the country and beyond:

  1. Institute of Making, University College London

  2. Oxford Materials Group, University of Oxford

  3. Department of Materials Science & Metallurgy, University of Cambridge

  4. Department of Materials, Imperial College London

  5. School of Materials, The University of Manchester

  6. Materials, University of Warwick

  7. Centre for Nanoscience and Quantum Information, University of Bristol

  8. Department of Materials Science and Engineering, The University of Sheffield

  9. Nanofabrication Centre, University of Southampton

  10. Nanoscience and Materials, University of Glasgow

  11. For some truly International Materials Events from Materials Today

Material science online courses

Various universities offer online course if you would like to learn more about our material world:

  • Volcanic eruptions: a material science.
    Volcanic eruptions are a powerful demonstration of the energy of the Earth´s interior. A materials-based understanding of the evolution of erupting systems provides a quantitative physico-chemical description of the nature of lava and magma and the role of experiments in quantifying the eruptive process.
  • Nanotechnology: The Basics
    Nanotechnology is an emerging area that engages almost every technical discipline – from chemistry to computer science – in the study and application of extremely tiny materials. This short course allows any technically savvy person to go one layer beyond the surface of this broad topic to see the real substance behind the very small.

What else is out there

University of Oxford – Department of Materials Podcasts

The Materials Education Training and Learning Project (METaL) is a unique work place based project offering materials and metallurgy training.

Last updated: 11 July 2019


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