Materials Matter:
A New Middle School Program
Numerous studies have revealed an achievement gap in STEM knowledge and a reduced interest in STEM careers among middle school students. Regrettably, there is little time in the middle school classroom for science as reading and mathematics predominate; however, children spend only ~20% of their time in school, while learning is a continuous process. Consequently, more and more STEM activities for this age group are being targeted for these out-of-school hours.
The ASM Materials Education Foundation has launched an out-of-school program entitled Materials Matter, which encourages middle school students to see the world around them as one in which science is transformed into technology through engineering. Students work in small groups and use hands-on experiments to explore concepts of physical science with common structural materials including metals, ceramics, polymers, and composites while learning to draw conclusions and apply basic engineering principles.
The new program was tested at three rather different sites: Roper Mountain Science Center in Greenville, S.C., a mid-size science center; University of Washington in Seattle, and the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa, Fla., one of the larger science museums. ASM master teachers trained local staff who reported enthusiastic participation by students and immediately scheduled the program for following years. The Seattle program for summer 2017 was filled to capacity within two hours of being announced and they have scheduled a second session.
In 2017, seven locations will offer Materials Matter. Our target in future years is hundreds of science centers and museums across the country, in addition to other organizations that offer out-of-school STEM programs.
As the ASM Materials Education Foundation continues to expand our program suite, it is imperative to garner support. Through your generous contributions, we can continue to inspire and excite students to explore new worlds through hands-on discovery and to become the STEM pioneers of the future.

Lyle H. Schwartz, FASM
ASM Materials Education Foundation Trustee

Elementary Education
The goal of the ASM Educational Foundation’s kindergarten to sixth grade (K-6) initiative is to reach a larger, more diverse population of students at an earlier age than that reached with the Foundation’s other programs. As these students experience materials science and engineering and grow older, they can dive deeper and funnel into other successful educational programs suchas the ASM Materials Camp and many of the new educational materials being developed for dissemination on the internet.
Most teachers work very hard to engage students by bringing real-world relevance into their classrooms. These dedicated teachers are particularly supportive of hands-on experiences that support the next-generation science standards they are implementing in their classrooms. One of the more successful educational methodologies for deeply engaging students in a meaningful way is project-based learning (PBL). Fortunately, materials science and engineering is a hands-on profession that typically moves new and exciting materials into society through projects. Materials are therefore in the “sweet spot” of PBL. Based on this understanding, the Foundation is developing short, hands-on projects where students can:
1. Touch and feel in a supportive, informal class room environment.
2. Take something home to stimulate discussion with siblings and parents.
3. Understand the relevance of what they learned the minute they leave the classroom.
These projects can be independently taught by teachers, but it is even more desirable for ASM members to enter the classroom as subject matter experts and run the projects with our nation’s teachers. Students remember when “real world” people come into their classrooms. To make a difference in a child’s life, while ensuring the future of our profession, don’t hesitate to contribute to a meaningful project experience at your local school.

Kevin Anderson, FASM
ASM Materials Education Foundation Trustee