On May 26th, 2012, Dr. Córdova-Figueroa and his research group participated in a workshop for local math and science teachers also coordinated in collaboration with SONW and NSF Wisconsin-Puerto Rico PREM. The event took place in Hotel Villa Antonio, Rincón, PR and it was the third time offered in the last few years. Its main focus was on providing ideas, simple demonstrations and accessible documentation so that teachers can introduce fundamental problems and activities in fluid mechanics and colloidal sciences to their respective classrooms. Teachers received drafts of educational modules prepared by the PI and two graduate students as guiding material for their classes. Other researchers from UPRM also gave presentations on other topics of materials science, particularly on the subject of nanotechnology.
As in NanoDays, the group mainly discussed viscous forces and Brownian motion in connection to self-propulsion of objects at small Reynolds number. A combination of hands-on experiences and a formal presentation were provided. This was a great opportunity to introduce to teachers basic concepts in physics and guide them to understand other advanced topics that the PI is currently working on. For example, the physical meaning of viscosity was easily communicated using visual examples of every-day fluids, such as ketchup, water, and paste, among others. This introduction was also guided by repeating the experiments of G.I. Taylor with two toy submarines in two fluids with very different viscosities. Teachers also learned the difference between Newtonian and non-Newtonian fluids based on their response when a force (or shear motion) is applied. Finally, participating teachers also learned the origin and importance of Brownian motion. A box with marbles and a disk were used to explain its origin, as similarly done in NanoDays. At the end of this experience, the PI dedicated a considerable amount of time discussing Janus and catalytically-driven colloidal particles. This section was very exciting and teachers asked many questions of the potential of these particles for nano-medical applications.
In conclusion, the activity in general was a complete success and teachers were excited to implement all these topics to their respective classrooms. At the end of the workshop, an evaluation form was passed to teachers and rated the event with a score of 4.8/5. A copy of the presentation was uploaded to YouTube and can be accessed by anyone at the PI’s website or upon request. Follow up events are being coordinated with SONW. This is relevant to measure true long-term impact of these workshops and to formulate other outreach activities.
UCF Research Group Participants: Ubaldo M. Córdova-Figueroa, Christian Santoni, Efrain Aymat