CSSM outreach efforts include museum partnerships and other activities to communicate the importance of critical metals.

Through a partnership with the Science History Institute in Philadelphia, CSSM Director, Prof. Eric Schelter was part of a panel discussion: “Rare Earths Elements: The Intersection of Science and Society.” The event was hosted by the Science History Institute through support from Roy Eddleman and was held on September 24, 2019 at Hudson Lofts in downtown Los Angeles. It was attended by ~175 people.

This outreach event included presentations about rare earth metals, their roles in technology and in society, challenges in their supply chain, and efforts to improve their sourcing through recycling. There was a panel discussion from experts in areas of engineering/lifecycle analysis, development, environment, and security politics, chemistry, and science communication. The panel also answered questions from the audience.

The event provided a unique experience for attendees with information about rare earth metals from diverse scientific, policy, environmental, and societal viewpoints. Members of the general public asked the panel questions about these topics and gained information and insight into issues of sustainability, critical materials, and chemistry. They also had a chance to interact with the speakers and panelists informally.

The discussion was led by Ira Flatow, host of NPR’s Science Friday. Panelists included Dr. Gwendolyn Bailey, KU Leuven, Prof. Julie  Michelle Klinger, Boston University, and Prof. Eric Schelter, University of Pennsylvania and Director of the Phase I CCI: NSF Center for Sustainable Separations of Metals. Dr. Adam Schwartz, Director, Ames Laboratory gave closing remarks.


National Chemistry Week 2019

CSSM members from Prof. Suzanne Bart’s lab participated in National Chemistry Week in West Lafayette, IN, an event sponsored annually by the American Chemical Society. This event is a “public awareness campaign that promotes the value of chemistry in everyday life.” This event is held in classrooms all over the United States, and facilitates interactions of ACS members with K-12 students.

Students and their teacher work with Rare Earth magnets to make a paper clip chain. In this module, students learned about the magnetic properties of metals, and how they can induce magnetic fields in non-magnetic materials. This is important given the potential use of magnetic properties in developing separations strategies.


If you are interested in museum partnerships with CSSM or learning more information about CSSM public outreach efforts and opportunities, please contact schelter ‘at’ sas.upenn.edu.