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The Science of All Things Squishy

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Eric Weeks and shaving cream with squishy physics spelled in black letters

Eric Weeks uses shaving cream and other household products to help students understand some of the properties of complex fluids. The Emory University associate physics professor created a three-week module on "squishy" materials--materials with both fluid and solid properties--for a freshman seminar class that introduces students to cutting-edge science.

Credit: Eric R. Weeks, Physics Department, Emory University

 

A researcher shows three kids how materials look through the lens of a microscope

Denis Semwogerere shows visiting students what "squishy" materials look like under a microscope. A field trip brought the youngsters to Eric Weeks' laboratory.

Credit: Eric R. Weeks, Physics Department, Emory University

 

Photo of girl putting on gloves in the lab.

A visiting student puts on gloves in preparation for playing with "squishy" materials. While all the materials used during the students' field trip were safe and non-toxic, "we had the students put on gloves because it made it more fun, and it encouraged them to get their hands directly on the squishy materials," Eric Weeks explained.

Credit: Eric R. Weeks, Physics Department, Emory University

 

Researcher is about to smash a banana while several children and an adult watch the demonstration.

It's not all squishy materials. Eric Weeks uses a banana as the main prop to demonstrate how liquid nitrogen changes the properties of materials. In this instance, he has frozen the banana and is about to smash it to show the students how the banana has become brittle when cooled to a very low temperature. The classic physics demonstration captivated the young audience.

Credit: Eric R. Weeks, Physics Department, Emory University