Young Campers use Berries to Explore Materials Science and Engineering during the Art 2 Science Summer Camp

Author: Barbara Villarosa

Art 2 Science 2017

Over the two-day Art 2 Science summer camp, ND Energy helped more than two hundred K-12 campers imagine a future where renewable energy would help air-condition their homes and propel their cars. Sponsored by the Joint Institute for Nuclear Astrophysics, Center for the Evolution of Elements (JINA-CEE), Art 2 Science is an annual summer event that focuses on teaching young students about math, science, and engineering through creative hands-on projects. ND Energy sponsored one of the twelve stations set up for the campers.


While discussing renewable energy options, students learned that simple solar cells can be made with raspberry juice. The discussion of how this might have been discovered evolved into an exploration of materials science and engineering being done at Notre Dame by researchers looking for the next new ground-breaking combinations of chemicals. In keeping with the art-theme of the camp, students were asked to create paints using berries and spices, adjusting the textures and colors and naming their favorite outcomes. They were encouraged to write down their “secret formulas” in case they came up with award-winning results.


An added bonus was the opportunity for young campers to interact with graduate students who are working with ND Energy affiliated faculty on cutting-edge research in energy. These graduate students interacted with participants and helped them to understand the science behind their art projects. Volunteers were Roy Stillwell (Fay research group), Jessica Zinna (Kuno research group), Nicole Moore (Hixon research group), Andrew Schranck (Doudrick research group), and Gary Zaiats and Jeff DuBose (Kamat research group).


Art 2 Science and other summer camps strive to keep the creative juices flowing for young scientists who are naturally curious in ways that are unlike the traditional classroom experience.  ND Energy is dedicated to providing the resources and support to outreach opportunities such as these year-round. For more information about ND Energy outreach, visit the ND Energy website.


ND Energy is a University Research Center whose mission is to build a better world by creating new energy technologies and systems and educating individuals to help solve the most critical energy challenges facing our world today. For more information, visit the ND Energy website at or contact Barbara Villarosa, Business and Communications Program Director, at or 574-631-4776.

Originally published by Barbara Villarosa at on August 07, 2017.