Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS

Making Stuff: Education and Outreach

Making Stuff Activity Guide

The Making Stuff Activity Guide contains four materials science activities that can be used in afterschool or out-of-school programs, or other settings. The hour-long activities are geared toward children ages 10 to 12, but families and adults alike can enjoy them. The materials are inexpensive and readily available at grocery, hardware, home supply, and electronics stores. Download Complete Activity Guide (PDF)

  • Stronger Activity Clip (MP4)
    Ride along with David Pogue in a demolition derby to investigate the strength and toughness of steel car bodies.

  • Smaller Activity Clip (MP4)
    Zoom in on a miniature magnet-powered robot and learn how materials scientists are using materials to replace machines in the quest to build micro-robots that could one day travel inside the body to deliver medicine or perform surgery.

  • Cleaner Activity Clip (MP4)
    Materials scientists are designing new kinds of batteries that could power the next generation of electric vehicles, including an electric motorcycle that can accelerate to 60 mph in less than one second.

  • Smarter Activity Clip (MP4)
    David Pogue investigates smart materials that can respond and change, including a mixture of cornstarch and water that exhibits some very strange properties.

Making Stuff Toolkit

With these materials, you can create opportunities for middle and high school youth, families, educators, and engineers and scientists to access a range of engaging educational activities that explore materials science, so that "viewers" become active "doers" in the process of science and engineering.

Note: you can download files in this document by right-clicking a link and choosing "Save Target As..." or "Save Link as..." from the menu. (Use ctrl-click on the Mac)

Download Complete Toolkit (PDF)

Toolkit Sections

About Making Stuff (PDF)

Working with partners in museums, schools, universities, labs, and businesses across the country, the national outreach campaign will coalesce with a month of Making Stuff events. Learn about the outreach campaign and how to get started. Download PDF

Making Stuff Resources

These demonstrations, hands-on activities, video clips, and presentations will support your outreach efforts to engage, educate, and entertain all ages.

Video Clips from Show

PowerPoint Presentations

Customizable Reproducibles

Logos (3 JPEGS)

Logo and language use guidelines (PDF)

Reproducibles (3 PDFs)

Toolkit Resources

Making Stuff Events and Activities Guidelines (PDF)

Use these ideas along with other Making Stuff Resources to help get your materials science events and activities off the ground. Download PDF

Making Stuff Demonstrations

Four short demonstrations featuring the cutting edge technology and topics presented in the series, these demos will showcase materials science from the research lab right into your home.

Stronger (PDF)

The audience participates to test and compare the tensile strength and elasticity of Kevlar, Nylon, and cotton thread by lifting weighted buckets with wooden dowels. Visitors learn that materials can be strong in different ways and that materials scientists test the strength of materials by stressing them to their breaking point. Download PDF

  • Stronger Demo Clip (MP4)
    David Pogue visits DuPont™, where Kevlar® was invented, to test the strength of this amazing bullet-proof material and find out how it works.

Additional Resources for Stronger:

Smaller (PDF)

Visitors use Styrofoam block and pipe cleaners to demonstrate the challenge of working on the nanoscale to produce smaller but more powerful computing and electronic devices. Visitors learn how difficult it is to work on the small scale and that materials scientists are developing extremely small, thin wires, called nanowires, that may help make computers and electronics even smaller in the future. Download PDF

  • Smaller Demo Clip (MP4)
    Make a pizza with a materials scientist at IBM to see how nanowires could be used to shrink transistors and power even smaller, yet more powerful, computers.

Additional Resources for Smaller:

Cleaner (PDF)

Visitors learn about bioplastic, a material made of plant or animal matter that is cleaner because it breaks down more easily in the environment than petroleum-based synthetic plastics. Visitors learn how to make and explore a simple bioplastic by curdling milk with vinegar in a process similar to cheese making. Download PDF

  • Cleaner Demo Clip (MP4)
    Materials scientists at Ford are replacing petroleum-based plastics in cars with cleaner bioplastics, materials made from plant or animal products that can biodegrade in the environment.

Additional Resources for Cleaner:

Smarter (PDF)

Visitors learn about two shape-memory materials that can be programmed to return to a previously set shape when exposed to heat. Visitors also learn about exciting new smart products that materials scientists are developing to help solve problems in engineering, medicine, and everyday life. Download PDF

  • Smarter Demo Clip (MP4)
    Learn about revolutionary shape-memory materials, such as Nitinol, an alloy of nickel and titanium, and see its amazing shape-memory properties.

Additional Resources for Smarter


"Making Stuff" is produced in cooperation with the Materials Research Society (MRS), an international organization of nearly 16,000 materials researchers from academia, industry, and government, and a recognized leader in promoting the advancement of interdisciplinary materials research to improve the quality of life.