Two educational programs, LOOKING AT THE MICROWORD BY NAKED EYE and SHAPE MEMORY EFFECTS IN MODERN MATERIALS, were offered by IPPT PAN at the 18. Science Picnic of Polish Radio and the Copernicus Science Centre, which took place at the National Stadium in Warsaw on May 31, 2014.


Coordinator of the workshop: Maria L. Ekiel-Jeżewska

Team: Sławomir Białecki, Marek Bukowicki, Marta Gruca, Piotr Korczyk, Joanna Markiewicz, Jakub Nowakowski, Dominika Nowicka, Tomasz Piasecki, Agnieszka Słowicka

Volunteers: Wiktoria Domiańska, Karol Hajduk i Julia Słowicka

Curriculum of the workshop

With hands on experiments, children had a chance to discover that viscosity and density of a fluid are different concepts, and figure out the essential differences between the motion of water at micro and macro scales.

Viscous or dense?

Children compared viscosity of water, oil, glycerin and honey, performing different experiments, e.g. by estimating a force needed to stir them with the same speed or measuring settling time of a steel ball in the same container filled with different liquids. Then, they used different methods to compare density of the same fluids. They discovered that the rating of the fluids is different.

How to observe microworld by naked eye?

Children learned that they could observe microworld by investigating analogical motion of larger objects of the same shape in a more viscous fluid. Then, they searched for differences between the motion of water and honey. They observed that moving honey and water do not stop at same time, and figured out that it was much easier to mix water than honey. Looking at the motion of artificial fish in water and honey they understood why bacteria do not swim in the same way as fish.

Goal of the workshop

PhD students prepared and led the educational workshop within the framework of their education program at the IPPT PAN, see PhD students can help teachers who are interested to teach children in a similar way at schools. Contact: ">


Coordinator: Elżbieta Pieczyska

Team: Dominik Kukla, Maria Staszczak, Jan Kraskowski

Can materials remember their shape?

Presentation 1: Shape memory effects in TiNi alloys

Samples of TiNi shape memory alloy (SMA) were shown. Their structure and properties were demonstrated. It was presented how the SMA shape and dimensions change depending on temperature. The observed effects result from the crystallographically reversible martensitic transformation, which can be stress- or temperature-induced.

"And yet it moves" as Galileo Galilei allegedly said

Rotation of solid state engine based on shape memory alloy effect

Presentation 2: Application of shape memory effect in shape memory alloys

An example of practical applications of shape memory alloys was demonstrated.

A simple model of a solid state engine, using the SMA shape memory effect, made by students of AICHI Institute of Technology in Japan and gifted to IPPT PAN, are presented. When the engine was put in a hot water, its spectacular rotation was observed.

How polymers remember their shape?

Why the sunflower "follow" the sun?

Presentation 3: Shape memory effects in polymers

Samples of Shape memory polymer (SMP) were shown. Their structure and properties which significantly differ below and above Tg (glass transition temperature) were discussed. Two phenomena which can be observed in the SMP were presented. The first is a shape fixity which means that it is possible to fix the SMP temporary shape obtained at temperature above Tg by following cooling at the temperature below Tg. The second phenomenon, called a shape recovery, denotes the property that the original shape, changed due to deformation at the higher temperature and fixed at the lower temperature, is recovered during subsequent heating above the SMP Tg temperature. Moreover, it was explained why the sunflower and other plants follow the sun.

About the Science Picnic

The Science Picnic of the Polish Radio and the Copernicus Science Centre is Europe’s largest outdoor event dedicated to science. Scientific institutions, universities, research institutes, museums, foundations related to science present their achievements. They show science in a manner understandable to audiences of all ages, using experiments, demonstrations and interactive exhibits.

The first Picnic - as the Science Picnic of Polish Radio BIS - was held on 14 June 1997 at the New Town Square. The Science Picnic was commended by the European Commission in 2005 as one of 10 model European projects in the "Science and Society" field. Since 2008 it is organized jointly by the Polish Radio and the Copernicus Science Centre.