Graduate students who participate in MRSEC research also engage in a variety of professional development, outreach, education, and community building activities in order to develop and improve their communication, leadership, presentation, networking and demonstration skills. All MRSEC funded grads select to participate on one of the following teams each year:
Outreach Teams for Fall 2021 - Summer 2022
K-12 Outreach & Education Team
Mission: to engage, inspire, and educate youth audiences and teachers about materials science through active involvement by researchers in skill-building activities and public outreach programs
To accomplish this, team members focus on utilizing, developing, and implementing hands-on interactive demonstrations and short activities. Currently, their efforts include:
- Utilizing, updating/improving, and promoting the Mission: Materials Science activities and platform to virtual (and eventually "live") audiences.
- Partnering with Discovery Space of Central Pennsylvania to bring materials science focused outreach programs to K-8 students.
- Coordinating the Arts Festival Kids Day science event on Old Main Lawn (Wednesday, July 13, 2022).
- Participating in other local or virtual public outreach events and classroom visits with teachers to test new activities or practice presentation/demonstration/communication skills (e.g. Exploration U, Envision, etc.)
- Coordinating with the MRI Ambassadors Team to present brief materials science focused demonstrations to young visitors during their tour of MRI facilities
The Team is educating Center members, Penn State materials community, and youth audiences on sustainability-focused issues by:
- Presenting "Sustainability Minutes" at each MERSEC seminar.
- Creating and presenting outreach lessons for high school aged students.
- Identifying opportunities for improvements and positive impact regarding the daily behaviors, decisions, conscious awareness and general mindset of researchers in a laboratory setting.
- Exploring connections between the academic research lab and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
For more about Sustainability at Penn State - we recommend getting connected to the The Sustainability Institute.
Materials Ambassador Team (NOTE: This team is no longer active; projects are being transitioned to other groups)
Serves as a knowledgeable resource for colleagues and visitors about the Materials Research Institute (MRI) facilities, building, history and mission by:
- Leading tours of the MRI facilities within the Millennium Science Complex (MSC) building for audiences of many types and ages (and coordinating with the K-12 Team when needed for youth). Audiences include: STEM Open House (undergraduates and masters students; fall), REU (undergraduates; summer), Teacher Workshop teachers (professionals; spring), Envision (middle and high school students; winter), K-12 school groups, industry visitors, and non-scientific Penn State visitors and community groups
- Selecting, inviting, and hosting at least one MRSEC Seminar speaker per year
- Hosting a "Industry Careers Information Session" for graduate students to network with industry representatives during MRI's annual Materials Day conference