In an effort to determine how “engineering types” learn, over 120 students of a University of Alberta materials engineering class were surveyed, and the majority classified themselves as visual learners. Visual learners tend to organize information into diagrams, recall information through visual cues or images, and discover meaning through manipulation of visual information. “What’s in the Box?™” aims to take advantage of this learning style.

The authors have developed a teaching manual that describes experiments to be performed that help to demonstrate concepts within materials science and engineering. The experiments are performed using a companion kit.

The manual has been used at the University of Alberta in its current form.

Length: 55 pages + kit


There are various experiments available on-line; however, the “What’s in the Box?” experiments have been developed specifically with regard to the contents of the companion kit, making it convenient, unique and fun. The manual has wide applicability for materials education – from primary school through to post-secondary school. The experiments are novel and use common, everyday accessible objects to demonstrate the concepts of materials engineering.

Potential Markets

The target audience for this book comprises students enrolled in introductory materials engineering courses. The University of Alberta is seeking a licensee. A suitable licensee may be a publisher serving engineering schools.  Dr. John Nychka has been actively promoting this concept to various North American instructors. The response has been overwhelmingly positive, and many of them have asked when “What’s in the Box?” will be available for purchase.

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Contact Information

Rebecka Carroll
Technology Management Group
TEC Edmonton – University of Alberta
Phone: 780-492-6235