SCI1440 Materials Creation, Consumption, and Impact

This course provides an introduction to materials science and solid-state chemistry via hands-on explorations of the materials we encounter in our everyday lives. In a series of team-based analytical projects, students select materials products or processes, and design experiments to answer materials-related questions that are personally interesting and culturally relevant. Each project integrates concepts and questions about the impacts of materials on our world, e.g., the toxicity of materials in consumer products, the energy of material processing, the recyclability or biodegradability of common plastics, or the social impacts of extractive industries. The course takes place in a studio-laboratory setting, where we learn to implement and troubleshoot project plans, and safely apply a wide range of materials testing and analytical techniques. The self-directed project work, combined  structured assignments, enable students to think critically about the connections among material chemistry, structure, processing, properties, and impacts. A variety of project deliverables - posters, presentations, and reports - help students gain skills in synthesizing, contextualizing, and communicating ideas and insights. In short, this course enables students to explain how materials behave, why they behave that way, and why it matters for maximizing technical performance or minimizing negative impacts on our world.