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Virtual Science Cafe

Virtual Science Cafe is a free STEM activity we host for K-12 students in the Chicago area, online via Zoom.

Virtual Science Cafe is our answer to the challenge of interactive, hands-on STEM outreach during the COVID period. We provide activity kits to children in the area. The kits are free, and are (usually) made of inexpensive items we can find around our household or in store. In this way, children will be able to try out for themselves what they have been shown. In fact they are often asked to try similar yet different things and make their own discovery. The science, the impact on our everyday lives, and the way of scientific thinking will be infiltrated through this experience. 

Each Cafe is approximately 1 hour long, and governed by different themes. Each theme takes two or three such sessions and one activity kit. The themes include:


The wonder of water. we talk about what are liquids, the 'mix-ability', surfactants, adhesion and surface tension, materials that really like to go with water and those really hates to, the difference between salt water and plain water, etc. 

Changes and reactions.  we explore the difference between physical changes and chemical reactions.  we create and discuss a few common reactions happening around us, acid-base reactions, redox reactions, etc.

Slimes and oobleck. These are perhaps among the most popular experiments for younger kids, while the science behind them goes a long way. We discuss the behavior of regular liquid versus the "strange", non-Newtonian liquid. We explore what mixtures make good slime or oobleck, then we talk about how these phenomena affect life around us.

Electricity and Magnetism. we talk about what electrons are, how they move, and how they can help us. we experiment on what are magnetic and how we can use magnetic matters. we create a mini electric-train and use it to explain electro-magnetic interaction--the force that provide us electricity as well as electric power.  

We will try our best to 'serve' Virtual Science Cafe regularly. If you are interested to sign up, please contact Professor Heng Wang (email under 'people' tab), or Alicia Bunton (abunton1 at at Illinois Tech's office of community affairs.   

MatSci AfterClass

(coming soon) Things as fun as materials science should not be limited to textbooks, quiz, and homework problems. We recorded these interesting experiments, some of them you can do at home, some might need extra tools. We embedded important concepts in MS201 (introduction of materials science) in these videos. Please follow us, try them out, do the thinking. We hope you will find them inspiring and helpful.  

Extra-curriculum Undergraduate Projects

We host undergraduate students for research throughout the year. But if you are not ready to taken on some academic research yet, we can find something for you as well. We offer, for instance, a design project of building tools/appliances with thermoelectric modules. This is a great opportunity to practice engineering skills: predict, design, build, and test.

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