Research Education and Activities for Community Teachers (REACT): REACT is a free online science workshop for educators in New York. The event consists of research-focused talks, lab tours, and fun at-home experimental or computational activities in the topics of physics, chemistry, engineering, and materials science.

Research Education and Activities for Community Teachers (REACT)

The REACT (Research and Education Activities for Community Teachers) program connects K-12 educators to current research at Cornell University. Led by graduate students, this one-day workshop includes presentations on research and the path to higher education, lab tours, and demonstrations. The goal of REACT is to show teachers how cutting-edge research is performed today, equip them with activities that can help them bring that research back to the community and their students, and foster relationships between educators and graduate students. REACT was started at University of Michigan in 2017, and has grown tremendously since.

After visiting the workshop in 2019, our team started a Cornell branch of the program in 2020 to bring REACT to educators in New York, comprised of 16 students across 6 departments. Due to COVID-19 concerns, Cornell REACT 2020 took place virtually over Zoom on Friday, July 31st, from 10 AM – 4 PM (EDT).

From left to right: (top row) Maya Martirossyan, Julia Dshemuchadse, Renee Sifri, Konrad Hedderick, (second row) Mel White, Zoe Pollard, Berit Goodge, Trevor Donadt, (third row) Scott Spring, Aileen Luo, David Specht, Tucker Swenson, (bottom row) Dana Chapman, Rachael Skye, Jesse Hsu, Abby Nason

→ REACT 2020 recordings

→ REACT 2020 materials

Agenda – REACT 2020

10:00 AM – 12:00 PM: Talks from graduate students
Organizer: Konrad Hedderick (

  • 10:00 AM: Intro and welcome
  • 10:10 AM: “The age of plastics: progress, prospects, and problems”, Renee Sifri (CCB)
  • 10:30 AM: “Simulations in soft matter physics”, Maya Martirossyan (MSE)
  • 10:50 AM: Break
  • 11:00 AM: “Guiding Students to Graduate School”, Dana Chapman and Konrad Hedderick (both MSE)
  • 11:20 AM: “Atoms and EELS: Probing materials at the lattice scale with scanning transmission electron microscopy”, Berit Goodge (AEP)
  • 11:40 AM: “Computational Photography: Images & Imagination”, Mel White (ECE)

12:00 – 1:00 PM: Lunch with teachers and students

1:00 – 4:00 PM: Lab tours & at-home activities
Lab tour organizer: Zoe Pollard (contact at
Activities organizer: Trevor Donadt (contact at

  • 1:00 PM: Physics Track
    • Tour of the Cornell Electron Microscopy Facility: How can we probe materials at the atomic scale?, Berit Goodge (AEP)
    • Activity: Creating Designer Organisms: How the tools for gene engineering are easier than ever, David Specht (AEP)
  • 2:00 PM: MSE Tracks (teachers will be placed randomly into one of two tracks)
  • Track 1:
    • Tour of a Biofuels Lab: How can we convert agricultural waste into fuel and sustainable energy?, Zoe Pollard (BEE)
    • Activity: Symmetry in the Real World, Aileen Luo (MSE)
  • Track 2:
    • Tour of an Electrochemical and Optics Lab: What instruments do we use to discover new materials for electrocatalysts?, Abby Nason (MSE)
    • Activity: The Physics of Interatomic Bonding and Phases of Matter, Tucker Swenson (MSE)
  • 3:00 PM: Chemistry Track
    • Tour of a Polymer Synthesis Lab: How are polymers synthesized and tested?, Scott Spring and Jesse Hsu (both CCB)
    • Activity: Glued Into Science, Scott Spring and Jesse Hsu (both CCB)

Organizing team

Maya Martirossyan (MSE)
Rachael Skye (MSE)
Zoe Pollard (BEE)
Trevor Donadt (CBE)
Konrad Hedderick (MSE)

(MSE = Department of Materials Science and Engineering,
AEP = Department of Applied and Engineering Physics,
BEE = Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering,
CBE = Robert Frederick Smith School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering,
CCB = Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology,
ECE = Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering)

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