Our World is made of all kinds of materials; the way they are put together is fascinating and understanding them helps us put them to use. Explore the properties of materials by changing their state, inspecting them at close range and discussing their usefulness for a all sorts of of tasks.
Exhibition requirements

• A gallery or classroom with about 50 sq metres of open floor space
• 12 tables
• Electrical power
• The exhibition must be supervised at all times when in use, preferably by staff accustomed to working in an interactive environment


Download MaterialWorks Teachers’ Notes


Exhibit list

Atoms – stack small balls representing atoms on three different grids – square, triangle and circle – to show the crystalline structure of solids
Change of State – press a button to melt a small pan of wax from below; the wax changes into liquid as it heats, then back into a solid as it cools down again
Compression Bottles – a number of plastic bottles contain various solids, liquids and air at different pressures. They can be handled to feel how differently they are affected
Filters – turn a disc containing water with particles to see how a filter separates them. Turn another disc containing balls of different sizes, which are sieved as they fall through barriers with holes of different diameters
Flow – four clear tubes containing liquids of differing viscosity with obstacles inside are set into a frame. Tilt the frame to observe the different rates of flow
Inappropriate Materials – a child’s bicycle has had many of its parts replaced by those made with inappropriate materials for the job. Compared to a normal bike it is easy to see why certain materials are normally used
Insulation – place different materials on to a hotplate (30°-35°C; place a thermometer on the hotplate then on the materials to compare their insulating properties
Mixing and Unmixing – one disc contains two non-mixing liquids, which when turned, appear to mix but gradually separate into two distinct layers. The other disc contains water with sand particles of different sizes, which, after being turned, slowly settle according to their size
Surfaces – a range of different materials are laid out and can be drawn on with chalk to investigate their surface textures
Types of Materials – by examining a number of different materials including rock, steel, aluminium, wood, rubber and plastic, their properties can be compared using a magnet, a conductivity tester and a thermometer
Video Microscope – samples of different materials can be viewed with a video camera which displays the image on a TV screen. The image is magnified 25 times to clearly show their surfaces
Viscosity – turn the knobs of four containers with contents of different viscosity to compare their resistance to movement