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published by the Public Broadcasting Service and the WGBH Educational Foundation
This is a four-part series exploring materials that could shape our future, such as plastics that will dissolve in landfills, silk designed to be stronger than steel, smart pills, and micro-robots that zap disease. The segments are organized in four categories: Stronger, Smarter, Smaller, and Cleaner. The videos may be viewed free of cost in Flash format or may be purchased at minimal cost in DVD and Blu-Ray formats.  

Don't miss the links to related interactive materials. In the activity "What's This Stuff", kids identify 10 mystery materials from a set of clues. "Nature's Super-Materials" lets students explore some of nature's stickiest, toughest, and cleanest materials.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Classical Mechanics
- Statics of Rigid Bodies
General Physics
- Properties of Matter
Other Sciences
- Engineering
- Middle School
- High School
- Informal Education
- Instructional Material
= Activity
= Interactive Simulation
- Audio/Visual
= Movie/Animation
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physical Science
- Physics First
- Conceptual Physics
- Algebra-based Physics
- AP Physics
- Activity
- New teachers
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© 2011 WGBH Educational Foundation
bonding, clean energy, materials science, materials video, nanotechnology, renewable energy, states of matter, stress and strain, structural engineering, tensile strength
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created July 6, 2011 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
August 19, 2020 by Lyle Barbato
Last Update
when Cataloged:
January 15, 2011

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

3. The Nature of Technology

3A. Technology and Science
  • 6-8: 3A/M3. Engineers, architects, and others who engage in design and technology use scientific knowledge to solve practical problems. They also usually have to take human values and limitations into account.
  • 9-12: 3A/H1. Technological problems and advances often create a demand for new scientific knowledge, and new technologies make it possible for scientists to extend their research in new ways or to undertake entirely new lines of research. The very availability of new technology itself often sparks scientific advances.
3C. Issues in Technology
  • 6-8: 3C/M4. Technology is largely responsible for the great revolutions in agriculture, manufacturing, sanitation and medicine, warfare, transportation, information processing, and communications that have radically changed how people live and work.
  • 9-12: 3C/H1. Social and economic forces strongly influence which technologies will be developed and used. Which will prevail is affected by many factors, such as personal values, consumer acceptance, patent laws, the availability of risk capital, the federal budget, local and national regulations, media attention, economic competition, and tax incentives.

4. The Physical Setting

4D. The Structure of Matter
  • 3-5: 4D/E6. All materials have certain physical properties, such as strength, hardness, flexibility, durability, resistance to water and fire, and ease of conducting heat.
  • 6-8: 4D/M1a. All matter is made up of atoms, which are far too small to see directly through a microscope.
  • 6-8: 4D/M5. Chemical elements are those substances that do not break down during normal laboratory reactions involving such treatments as heating, exposure to electric current, or reaction with acids. All substances from living and nonliving things can be broken down to a set of about 100 elements, but since most elements tend to combine with others, few elements are found in their pure form.
  • 6-8: 4D/M13. The idea of atoms explains chemical reactions: When substances interact to form new substances, the atoms that make up the molecules of the original substances combine in new ways.

8. The Designed World

8B. Materials and Manufacturing
  • 6-8: 8B/M1. The choice of materials for a job depends on their properties.
  • 6-8: 8B/M2. Manufacturing usually involves a series of steps, such as designing a product, obtaining and preparing raw materials, processing the materials mechanically or chemically, and assembling the product. All steps may occur at a single location or may occur at different locations.
  • 6-8: 8B/M5. Efforts to find replacements for existing materials are driven by an interest in finding materials that are cheaper to obtain or produce or that have more desirable properties.
  • 6-8: 8B/M6. Some materials, such as plastics, are synthesized in chemical reactions that link atoms together in long chains. Plastics can be designed to have a variety of different properties for a variety of uses.
  • 9-12: 8B/H1. Manufacturing processes have been changed by improved tools and techniques based on more thorough scientific understanding, increases in the forces that can be applied and the temperatures that can be reached, and the availability of electronic controls that make operations occur more rapidly and consistently.
  • 9-12: 8B/H4. Increased knowledge of the properties of particular molecular structures helps in the design and synthesis of new materials for special purposes.
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Record Link
AIP Format
(Public Broadcasting Service, Arlington, 2011), WWW Document, (https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/series/making-stuff/episodes/).
NOVA: Making Stuff (Public Broadcasting Service, Arlington, 2011), <https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/series/making-stuff/episodes/>.
APA Format
NOVA: Making Stuff. (2011, January 15). Retrieved May 26, 2024, from Public Broadcasting Service: https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/series/making-stuff/episodes/
Chicago Format
Public Broadcasting Service. NOVA: Making Stuff. Arlington: Public Broadcasting Service, January 15, 2011. https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/series/making-stuff/episodes/ (accessed 26 May 2024).
MLA Format
NOVA: Making Stuff. Arlington: Public Broadcasting Service, 2011. 15 Jan. 2011. 26 May 2024 <https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/series/making-stuff/episodes/>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Title = {NOVA: Making Stuff}, Publisher = {Public Broadcasting Service}, Volume = {2024}, Number = {26 May 2024}, Month = {January 15, 2011}, Year = {2011} }
Refer Export Format

%T NOVA: Making Stuff %D January 15, 2011 %I Public Broadcasting Service %C Arlington %U https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/series/making-stuff/episodes/ %O application/flash

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source %D January 15, 2011 %T NOVA: Making Stuff %I Public Broadcasting Service %V 2024 %N 26 May 2024 %8 January 15, 2011 %9 application/flash %U https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/series/making-stuff/episodes/

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The AIP Style presented is based on information from the AIP Style Manual.

The APA Style presented is based on information from APA Style.org: Electronic References.

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