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Area teens form bond at annual Materials Camp

For 16 area teenagers, a near-limitless supply of candy brought big smiles to their faces.

But not for the reason one would think.

For the students attending Lehigh's ASM Materials Camp — hosted annually by the department of materials science and engineering and the Lehigh Valley chapter of ASM International — their goal is to examine what happens when each type of candy, when combined with chocolate, will form the strongest composite.

"There are different ways of arranging the candy pieces," explained camp co-leader and MatSci grad student Abigail Lawrence ’10, "Some will make the bonding with the chocolate stronger, some will make it weaker."

After choosing their candy pairs, the groups set them in aluminum bread pans. Melted chocolate is poured into each pan, and the mixture frozen overnight. The next morning, each slab of hardened chocolate is subjected to a Charpy impact test to determine which composite best absorbs the energy from a hammer blow.

After completing their projects, the groups defend their decisions to Lawrence and fellow grad student Mike Kracum ’11, the camp’s other lead instructor.

The free camp lasts one week every July and enrolls 16 high school students from the Lehigh Valley and the Reading area. Its purpose is to inspire young people to pursue careers in engineering and, especially, in materials science and engineering.

Read more about the ASM Materials camp experience in the Lehigh University News Center.

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GREC workshop

Candy composites are covered with melted chocolate during ASM Materials Camp at Lehigh University. (Photo courtesy Mary Ann Lynch)

GREC workshop

Campers Kenny Gahler (left) and Eric Scott chose Whoppers and Gummy Worms for their chocolate composite project at ASM Materials Camp. (Photo courtesy Mary Ann Lynch)