K-12 & Education

It's a competitive world in which science, technology, mathematics and engineering impact our economy, health, societal well-being and policy. Scientists, engineers and educators provide the ideas and knowledge base for U.S. leadership in science and engineering. Learning how people learn, while also supporting the very best ideas and students are also essential goals in today's changing world.

Could you love math?

Jere Confrey is an NSF-funded researcher at the College of Education at NC State University. Her work in mathematics education provides a valuable perspective on the challenges and opportunities around having a positive relationship with math. She is one of the #WomenInSTEM we are highlighting for Women's History Month.

The sweet science of chocolate

Everybody loves chocolate, but did you know that small daily doses of dark chocolate improve vascular function, reduce pregnancy complications, and lighten gloomy moods? But while it's easy to appreciate, creating this confection is an elaborate feat. Local chocolate-makers explain the precision engineering and chemistry behind the beloved treat.

A glass conducter

A light bulb has the glass carefully removed, leaving the glass base and filament intact. The bulb is connected to AC electricity, and the filament quickly and dramatically burns out. This leaves the two wires that originally supported the filament separated by the glass in the base. Take a propane torch and heat the glass base (the bulb remnants are still connected to the electricity), a point is reached where the heated glass is no longer isolating the two wires from each other, but has become a conductor of electricity. As the electricity flows, the heat generated lights up the glass, the propane torch can be removed, and the glass continues to glow very brightly.

Flashy grape

A grape makes a great dipole antenna, and makes a great (small and safe) series of sparks in the microwave.

Reflecting in the bath

An internally frosted, large light bulb is dipped into a fish tank of water, and the total internal reflection effect produces 'other-worldly' consequences to how the bulb looks in the water. The bulb goes from white to a silvery orb. Turning the bulb on, produces a similar, but more alluring effect.

Graphite glow

Passing a small electric current through a mechanical pencil lead causes it to glow brightly for several seconds.

Plasma cutter

A pencil lead and some batteries make a small plasma cutter that we use to etch a pattern in aluminum foil.