Holiday Lecture 2023

Holiday Lecture 2023: World of Patterns

PCCM will celebrate its annual Holiday Lecture: World of Patterns on SaturdayDecember 9, 2023, 10 am and 1 pm.

The event will be led by Prof. Howard Stone at the McDonnell Hall A02 lecture room.

Click here for more information and registration details!

What is symmetry?

How are crystals formed?

Where can we see patterns in our daily lives?

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. Join us at the 2023 Holiday Science Lecture for Families as we take a close look at some of the amazing patterns observed in nature and the science of their structure and formation. We will use experiments and interactive demonstrations to illustrate ideas of shape, symmetry, packing, and pattern formation!

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). 

Previous Lectures:

On SaturdayDecember 11, 2021, PCCM celebrated its annual Holiday Lecture: Let it Flow: A Festival about Fluids. This "virtual" event was a great success with 447 families registered (an audience of 1000+). This year's topic was a celebration of fluids! Fluids are a part of our everyday lives - you can think about the water that flows from a faucet, the syrup you pour on pancakes, the winds and rains that are part of big storms. You can think about the air that flows out of the hole in a flat tire, or the hot candle wax you pour in a mold. We investigated some of these common fluids that are all around us, and then we went into the lab and checked out some not-so-everyday fluids that behaved very strangely. The presentation was designed for children ages 7 and up and their families, but all were welcomed to join and learn something new!

The 2020 "virtual" event had 426 families registered (an audience of 1000+). One demo that was super fun was testing how a rubber ball bounced when warm versus when cold. The ball was bounced at room temperature first, then after being frozen in liquid nitrogen, the results were compared. Additionally, the ball was hit with a hammer at both room temperature and after being frozen with liquid nitrogen. The results were shown with a super slow-motion camera so that the families could see how the ball deformed itself and molded shape to bounce back! The kids absolutely loved when the ball was hit with a hammer after being frozen in liquid nitrogen, and shattered into multiple pieces. Not something you see every day! We thank all of the families who participated, and wish everyone a Happy Holiday!

2022 "Engine Earth"

2021 (virtual) "Let it Flow: A Festival about Fluids"

2020 (virtual) "A Materials Wonderland" (link is external)

2019 "Ice Cream for Science: A Legen-DAIRY Experience!"

2018 "The Science of Pizza: It's a Little Cheezy"

2017 "Hold Your Temper! Celebrating the Science of Chocolate"

2016 "Science in a Bubble: Illuminating Interfaces"

2015 "A Grain of Salt: Isn't it Ionic?" (Event Photos / Program Booklet PDF / Announcement Flyer PDF)

2014 "DNA: A Detective Story" (Program Booklet PDF / Announcement Flyer PDF)

2013 "Faster than the Blink of an Eye"

2012 "Let There be Light: A Celebration of Color"

2011 "Powerful Potential: The Gift of Energy"

2010 "Good Vibrations: How We Communicate"

2009 "Germs! A Detective Story"