Engaging Materials Science Students with the Universe of Superheroes: A Successful Classroom Experiment

Reference Presenter Authors
(Institution)
Abstract
07-003 Ricardo Hauch Ribeiro Castro Castro, R.H.(University of California - Davis); New millennium students are challenging the old teaching formats. Engaging these students in a typical classroom scenario with a black board or even static slides  is no easy task for the best of the speakers. While several attempts are being proposed in terms of the usage of high-tech media to help bring the students' attention, we have proposed an approach in which the fundamentals being taught are directly correlated to a massive entertainment tooling, i.e. the universe of superheroes. Inspired by the undivided attention superhero characters such as Iron Man and Captain America have in the big screens, we created a high successful freshmen course at UC Davis called Materials Marvels. In this class, we immerse the students on the most appealing aspects of materials, and use superheroes features to engage in (educational) discussions such as: what material can Iron Man's armor be made of? Can an arc-reactor help solve the current energy problems? The students are led to understand that, like in real life, the limitations of a superhero lie on the materials. 
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