Holiday Lecture

The Holiday Lecture series is modeled on a famous set of presentations first given to children a century ago as part of the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures in London. The lectures highlight science in an engaging and fun forum for children age 7 and up. This event, which is free and open to the public, brings science to the community through experiments, audience participation, and highlights from current research. The lecture is a collaborative effort of the NSF MRSEC at Harvard and the NSF PCCM at Princeton. This annual event is free and open to the public (all ages are welcome).

Holiday Lecture 2023: A World of Patterns

The PCCM Holiday Lecture was held on SaturdayDecember 9, 2023 (10 am and 1 pm) and was led by Prof. Howard Stone at McDonnell Hall (Room A02).

Beauty and wonder surround us every day. Our world is full of amazing patterns: from the smallest scale of molecules arranging into crystal structures such as snowflakes, to the stripes on a tiger, to large geological wonders like Devils Postpile National Monument. Thank you to all the families who joined us as we marveled at the amazing patterns observed in nature and the science of their structure and formation. We used experiments and interactive demonstrations to illustrate ideas of shape, symmetry, packing, and pattern formation!

Our enthusiastic, interactive audience helped us build a crystal lattice of children, demonstrated the hexagonal patterns in a bowl of cereal and milk, decorated a “cake” with a fluid coiling instability, and made holiday ornaments with beautiful fractal patterns, and much more.

View the YouTube event video
Below are event photos, including pics of the audience's pattern creations!