Representatives of The University of Tennessee Space Institute (UTSI) recently visited local schools to give demonstrations relating to ceramic and glass technology. The demonstrations are part of an educational program, Glass MATE (Materials and Technology Education), developed by UTSI Associate professor Jacqueline Johnson to educate local students about this technology and its benefits to our society. The program, which is sponsored by the Ceramic and Glass Industry Foundation, is targeted towards high school and community college students and is intended to encourage them to consider a career in the field of material science with a focus on ceramics and glass. Demonstrations were given in Amanda Green’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) class at Franklin County High School and in Alisa Mitchell’s chemistry class at Tullahoma High School, on February 14 and 28, respectively. Lee Leonard, a research assistant professor at UTSI, after a brief overview of the UTSI campus, demonstrated the slip casting process and how it could be used for the mass production of ceramic materials. Charles Bond, a Master’s student at UTSI, followed with demonstrations of the role of thermal expansion and refractive index in the selection of glass materials. Julie King, a PhD student at UTSI concluded the events with a candy pull activity, which demonstrated the glass transition in glassy and partially crystallized materials. The visits were facilitated by Carole Thomas, the Program Manager for STEM at UTSI.
The events were well-received by the students, with many of them taking an active part in the demonstrations. The candy pull activity was particularly popular, with students competing to see who could draw (pull) the longest fiber. According to Mitchell, “It was absolutely wonderful! [The] students were so excited!”