Materials Engineering Department

Degree Name

BS in Materials Engineering




Kathy Chen


The Materials Safari Adventure kit was designed to help introduce basic materials concepts to young audiences in kindergarten through fourth grade levels. The primary goal of this project was to design a tool to spark an interest in materials science for young children, while revealing the field of materials science to parents and educators. The final kit design incorporates a safari theme to encourage imagination and promote self-directed learning through the interaction with materials. Materials were selected to showcase a range of properties within three materials classes: metals, polymers, and natural woods. A total of 9 materials were chosen for the kit, including: a-36 mild steel, 6061 T6 aluminum, 360 alloy brass, clear cast acrylic, ABS plastic, rosewood, oak, and balsa wood. The metal materials were water jet cut followed by hand filing and sanding, the woods and acrylic were laser cut, and the ABS was rapid prototyped using a 3-D printer into the profile shapes of various safari animals. The kit consists of three testing stations designed to examine weight, density, and magnetism. Prototype testing was conducted at the Cal Poly child development lab and the San Luis Obispo Children’s Museum. Through prototype testing, we gained a greater understanding of our user and tailored the kit to better suit their learning needs. Additionally, testing verified the sizes of the animal pieces, ⅜” thick, between 1 to 2.25” in width, and 1.2” to 2.25” in height to be appropriate even for our youngest users. The safari theme was able to cultivate interest and motivation in users. The Materials Safari Adventure was able to successfully demonstrate and portray educational concepts presented at the testing stations, verified by the user’s ability to correctly answer application driven questions.