Published on Tuesday February 1, 2005
Members of Drexel University's Department of Materials Science and Engineering's student chapter of ASM International/TMS/ACerS hosted 17 students, including 9 female students, and 5 teachers from four Philadelphia area high schools on Saturday, January 29th, 2005 for the 1st annual "BLAST-Bringing Local Area Schools Together" program-a one-day "Mini Materials Camp" developed by the student chapter and made possible with the help of funding from the ASM International Foundation.
Organized in two rounds, the BLAST Program was designed to attract and interest high school students to the field of Materials Science and Engineering. In Round 1, participating schools were provided with kits of materials and instructions for producing small composite beams known as "Composites for a Buck," which were subsequently sent in to Drexel for testing during the Fall of 2004. In Round 2, the top 5 high school teams whose Round 1 beams exhibited the highest load-bearing to weight ratios were invited to spend a day at Drexel University, working with graduate students and faculty to learn more about materials science and engineering. The program included an overview lecture on materials, a brief introduction to beam theory, scanning electron microscope (SEM) demonstrations, a hands-on polymers laboratory where the students produced "slime" and "foam," and an entertaining lecture based around liquid nitrogen, culminating in everyone enjoying liquid nitrogen-made ice cream!
The highlight of the day at Drexel was the testing of a second series of composite beams, designed and built on that day using the knowledge gained from an analysis of the beams built in Round 1. Gold, silver, and bronze medals were awarded to each student member of the top 3 teams, and a plaque was awarded to the accompanying teacher for display at the winning school. All participants received a certificate of participation and a T-shirt, and each team's teacher received a copy of the book, Journeys in Microspace: The Art of the Scanning Electron Microscope, authored by Drexel's Director of Microscopy Dee Breger.
The winning schools were:
- 1st Place: Cherry Hill High School West, Team A (Load:Weight Ratio = 22.59 kg/g)
- 2nd Place: St. Hubert's High School (Load:Weight Ratio = 20.89 kg/g)
- 3rd Place: Lower Merion High School (Load:Weight Ratio = 14.84 kg/g)
Various faculty and students from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering participated in the event, which was co-organized by ASM International/TMS/ACerS student-chapter faculty advisor Dr. Richard Knight, FASM and Ph.D. students Gwénaëlle Proust and John Chmiola.