Resources for Students and Teachers

Chemistry and Physics Classroom Activities and Field Trips

Science is fun! The Mallouk group would like to bring a hands-on chemistry or physics activity to your classroom. We have developed different
Students visiting the lab.
45-90 minute activities for several grade levels: light and color (K-1), magnets (1-2), acid base chemistry (2-3), energy changes (4-5), periodic properties (6-8), and fuel cells (11-12), so that students who progress through the grades at a particular school can do different sets of experiments each year. These activities have been designed at the request of teachers in the Centre region; we would be glad to design a new one around a topic that meets the needs of your class. Our activities are free of charge and involve the assistance of graduate and undergraduate students in the research group, as well as collaboration with other Penn State Chemistry and Physics faculty. The same students assist with field trips of elementary school classes to our laboratory, manning stations that expose children to microscopy, chromatography, fluorescence, polymerization, and other chemical concepts in a fun, hands-on manner. Please talk to us about a visit to our laboratory at 814-863-9367 or email Tom Mallouk at

Summer Science Camps and Research Experiences

The Eberly College of Science at Penn State offers 1-week summer camps for students entering grades 2-12 under the aegis of the Science-U science program. Students in our group have developed curricular material for these camps, and they frequently serve as Science-U mentors. Some of the most popular camps in recent years have been Science Leadership, Penn State Crime Scene Investigators, Mission to Mars, and (in our Harry Potter series) Wizard Mechanics, Potions, and The Adventure of the Apprentice's Stone. Please visit the Science-U website to find out more.
Science-U Science Camp
Penn State researchers - currently in the 5th-8th grades - cook up a startling brew in the Potions camp

The Mallouk group also participates in summer Teacher Workshops and in the Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) program through the Penn State Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC). The RET program is a great way to get involved in frontier materials research and at the same time develop curricular materials for your classroom. Fellowships are available to support participants in these programs. For more information, visit the MRSEC Teacher Resources . Teachers who visit our lab in the summer also have an opportunity to interact with high school students who do six-week research projects under the sponsorship of the SEECoS program.

Science Museum Shows

As part of the MRSEC, graduate and undergraduate students in the group collaborated with the Franklin Institute (a science museum in Philadelphia) to develop experiments on polymers, aerogels, zeolites, memory metal, optical displays, and other materials for "Materials Matter," a cart-based museum show that has been presented at 20 science museums around the country. The theme of "Materials Matter" is to provide a hands-on connection between atomic-scale models and the macroscopic properties of materials. For example, we use balls of different sizes and egg cartons to illustrate ion exchange equilibria in zeolites, and then show the exchange of colored ions in real zeolite samples to explain their use as water softeners. A second hands-on museum show centered on concepts in nanobiology, "Zoom in on Life" was launched in 2005. A third show, "Small Wonders," on the applications of nanotechnology was released in 2008. A fourth show, "Hidden Power," on alternative energy sources, was released in 2012. A fifth show, "Pocket Tech," about the science inside smart phones, was released in 2014 and is currently showing at 20 science museums in the U.S. and Canada.

One of the activities in "Small Wonders" explains how nano-iron can be used to clean up contaminants that are buried deep in the ground. This technology was the subject of an episode of the PBS Kids show Dragonfly TV, starring postdoc Joanna Skluzacek and Franklin Institute collaborator Jayatri Das.
Water Clean Up
Watch the Episodevideo

A new smart phone/tablet app that combines interactive science from the five cart-based shows and other new science-at-home content is currently in the development stage. Students who are interested in getting involved in developing these shows should visit the MRSEC Museum Shows.