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Society of Rheology Educates 175 Participants in Baltimore Outreach

Professor Jonathan Rothstein of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department has been directing some outstanding outreach projects with his students involved in the 2015 National Society of Rheology’s Education and Outreach Campaign. Recently, Rothstein worked with more than 35 student volunteers to educate approximately 175 participants – ranging from K-12 students to industry professionals – in Baltimore, Maryland.

Rheology, a branch of mechanics, is the study of those properties of materials which determine their response to mechanical force. The word rheology was coined in the 1920s to represent the science of the deformation and flow of matter, and the Society of Rheology was officially formed on December 9, 1929. Meetings of the society have been held at least annually since that time. The society has sponsored publication of technical and scientific papers in this field in various journals, currently in its own Journal of Rheology.

As MIE Department Head Sundar Krishnamurty says, “Our professors love to provide this kind of event, which serve as a vital and exciting bridge to engineering for industry, graduate students, and school-age participants.”

First, Faith Morrison and Ron Larson taught a one-and-a-half-day course in “Beginning Rheology” at the Society of Rheology facility in Baltimore, attended by 17 participants. Then at that same facility Eric Furst and Roseanna Zia taught 18 participants about “Active and Passive Microrheology: Theory and Experimental Applications.” A course on “Interfacial Rheology,” taught by Jan Vermant and Gerry Fuller, is also planned for the winter meeting of the Society of Rheology in Tampa, Florida, in 2017.

“These short courses were geared towards industry and graduate students,” explains Rothstein.  “Although I managed them and oversaw all the administrative responsibilities, I didn’t teach them.”

On Sunday, October 11, Rothstein’s group ran its second annual outreach event in the Maryland Science Center, a great success with more than 150 elementary and middle-school-age kids participating.

Rothstein’s team set up 10 demonstration tables, staffed by more than 30 volunteers, to attract walk-up participation.

“What I did was develop most of the 10 demos that we used at the outreach event and organize the whole thing,” says Rothstein.

The demonstrations included rod climbing, open siphon, die swell, shear thickening, shear thinning, gellation, and viscoelasticity, among other themes.

The Society of Rheology education and outreach committee, chaired by Rothstein, includes Michael Boehm, Chris Dimitriou, Marie-Claude Heuzey, Maryam Sepehr, and J.C. Conrad. (December 2015)