photo of grad students talking to high school students at outdoor event
MRSEC grads train Upward Bound high school students to engage youth at the annual Arts Festival Kids Day.


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:


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:

  1. Utilizing, updating/improving, and promoting the Mission: Materials Science activities and platform to virtual (and eventually "live") audiences.
  2. Partnering with Discovery Space of Central Pennsylvania to bring materials science focused outreach programs to K-8 students. 
  3. Coordinating the Arts Festival Kids Day science event on Old Main Lawn (Wednesday, July 12, 2023).
  4. 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.)

Sustainability Team

The Team is educating Center members, Penn State materials community, and youth audiences on sustainability-focused issues via the following activities:  

  1. Presenting "Sustainability Minutes" at each MRSEC seminar.
  2. Creating and presenting outreach lessons for high school aged students.
  3. Identifying opportunities for improvements and positive impact regarding the daily behaviors, decisions, conscious awareness and general mindset of researchers in a laboratory setting. 
  4. Exploring connections between the academic research lab and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
  5. Exploring topics of sustainability in the local State College and University Park community to learn more and share information with Center members. 

For more about Sustainability at Penn State - we recommend getting connected to the The Sustainability Institute

photo of outdoor outreach event