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 local elementary and high school teachers; we would be glad to design a new one around a topic that meets the needs of your class. These activities are free of charge and involve the assistance of graduate and undergraduate students in our research group. 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 814-571-6115 or email Tom Mallouk.

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 have served as Science-U mentors. Some of the K-3 and middle school camps in this series have been Penn State Crime Scene Investigators, Mission to Mars, and (in the Harry Potter series) Wizard Mechanics, Potions, and The Adventure of the Apprentice’s Stone. Science Leadership  is a camp for high school students who have an interest in math and science.  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 the Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) program through the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) at Penn. 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 summer programs. For more information, visit the LRSM RET website.


Science Museum Shows

As part of the Penn State MRSEC, graduate and undergraduate students in the group have collaborated with the Franklin Institute (a science museum in Philadelphia) to develop experiments on polymers, aerogels, zeolites, memory metal, optical displays, nano-iron, and other materials-related topics for cart-based museum shows that have been presented at 20 science museums around the country. The theme of many of these museum kits has been 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. After the first successful kit “Materials Matter” was created in 2003, 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 distributed to 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

Water Clean Up

PBS Kids show Dragonfly TV, starring postdoc Joanna Skluzacek and Franklin Institute collaborator Jayatri Das.

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 final stages of development. Students who are interested in getting involved in developing future museum show content should visit the MRSEC Museum Shows.