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Low-Cost, Experimental Curriculum in Materials Science Using Candy Glass Part 2: Home-Built Apparatuses

  • William R. Heffner (a1) and Himanshu Jain (a1)


We have been developing a collection of low-cost experiments for exploring the science of glassy materials through hands-on activities with sucrose based glass (a.k.a. hard candy). These form a mini-curriculum of glass science, consisting of inter-related experiments and home built apparatuses. It provides an environment to develop an understanding of glassy materials through active, prolonged engagement. Some of our earlier experiments were reported four years ago[1]. Since that report we have made substantial improvements and added new topics, including electrical and thermal conductivity, an improved DTA apparatus, and improved methodology for crystallization kinetics. All of our experiments are designed to be low-cost (typically <$100) and the apparatuses are designed for construction by students or teachers.



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1. Heffner, William R. and Jain, Himanshu, MRS Proceedings, 1233, (2009).
2. Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy, Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing for a Brighter Economic Future, (National Academies Press, Washington, DC, 2007).
3. See for example Hatch, Mark, The Maker Movement Manifesto: Rules for Innovation in the New World of Crafters, Hackers, and Tinkerers (McGraw-Hill, 2013).
4. Bell, Philip, Lewenstein, Bruce, Shouse, Andrew W., and Feder, Michael A., Editors, Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits (National Academies Press, Washington, DC, 2009).
5. ImageJ is a public domain, Java-based image processing program developed at the National Institutes of Health. It is available for free download at
6. “Temperature Logging and Control with the Basic Stamp Microcontroller” Heffner, William and Davis, Jordan, Am. Assoc. Physics Teacher Winter Meeting 2011, Jacksonville, FL, Jan. 9-12, 2011. Poster archived on IMI website at:
7. Ibid, “A Low-Cost Student Built DTA for Exploring the Glass Transition”, William Heffner, 2010 Glass & Optical Materials Division Meeting, Corning, NY, May 16-20, 2010.
8. See, for example, the discussion in Chapter 14 of Arun Varshneya Fundamentals of Inorganic Glasses, 2nd Ed. (Society of Glass Technology, Sheffield, 2004).
9. “A low-cost electrometer for measuring conductivity and glass transition in sugar glass” Heffner, W. and Ward, N., 2011 Glass & Optical Materials Division Meeting, Savannah, Georgia, May 15-19, 2011. Poster archived at:
10. Oja, V, and Suuberg, EM. J. Chem. Eng. Data 44(1):2629 (1999).
11. Heffner, William R., Demchak, Shera, Pearson, Raymond and Scruggs, John W., “Home-Built Apparatus for Measuring Thermal Conductivity of Glass and Polymer Materials”, presented at 2013 Fall MRS Meeting, Boston (submitted for publication to MRS Proceedings). At the date this paper was written, URLs or links referenced herein were deemed to be useful supplementary material to this paper. Neither the author nor the Materials Research Society warrants or assumes liability for the content or availability of URLs referenced in this paper.


Low-Cost, Experimental Curriculum in Materials Science Using Candy Glass Part 2: Home-Built Apparatuses

  • William R. Heffner (a1) and Himanshu Jain (a1)


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