What are Ceramics and Glass?

While most are familiar with everyday ceramics and glass, they are much more than pottery, dishes, and window glass. As you will learn, Ceramics are Cool! Check out all the resources below!

Ceramic and glass materials enable advanced technologies—sometimes as components in devices, sometimes as materials necessary for manufacturing other materials. Components include catalytic converter substrates for your car, fiber optic glasses that bring the internet to you, light bulbs, and dental crowns. Behind the scenes, refractory ceramics line steelmaking furnaces and cement kilns, draw heat out of your cell phone, and project jet engines during flight.

Broadly speaking, ceramic materials are nonmetallic, inorganic materials, that is, not metals, not plastics, not organic chemicals. Compounds such as oxides, nitrides, carbides, and borides are generally considered ceramic materials. Glasses are amorphous materials with a wide composition ranges. However, most commercial glasses are silicate or borosilicate based compositions.

Everywhere you look, ceramics and glass are hard at work—even though they may be unseen. Explore the links below to learn how ceramics and glasses are used everyday!

Learn More about Ceramics and Glass in Our World

Materials Science Demonstration Kits

The American Ceramic Society is pleased to provide free materials science lessons that provide fun, hands-on activities that introduce middle and high school students to the basic classes of materials — ceramics, composites, metals, and polymers. The lessons come from our Materials Science Classroom Kit for 7th-12th grade students.

The Ceramic and Glass Industry Foundation, building on lessons developed by Missouri University of Science & Technology, is proud to offer our Mini Materials Demo Kit, a collection of seven simple demonstrations for use practically anywhere by parents, teachers, and students who are utilizing online and at-home teaching resources. You will also find that the seven demonstrations can be downloaded for free.

Another excellent resource is a manual that contains over 40 materials science demonstrations. Topics covered include structures, mechanical properties, kinetics, magnetism, optical properties, thermal properties, corrosion, and polymers.

Resources for Teachers and Parents

The American Ceramic Society and The Ceramic and Glass Industry Foundation are pleased to offer a variety of resources for middle and high school teachers who have an interest in teaching materials science. From our Materials Science Classroom Kit to free downloadable lessons and instructional videos, classroom resources are just a click away!


Teaching Materials Science

Developed by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, this handbook is an Introduction to Materials Science and Technology -- creating an MST environment -- standards, learning goals, assessment -- experiments and demonstrations. Featured are the chapters on Ceramics and Glass.

ACerS offers a "Materials and You" series by Ricardo Castro: Classroom Demonstrations for Teaching Materials Science

Answers to the questions:  "What is materials science?"

"What does a materials scientist do?"


We are proud to offer you a great PowerPoint presentation, "Let's Talk About Materials Science!", which offers a look at materials science and ceramic engineering. The presentation was developed by one of our student members, Andrew Ericks, who is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

The Strange Matter Exhibit web page offers a number of resources that explain what materials science is and what materials scientists do.

"What is Materials Science?" is an interesting and informative video produced by MatEd and The National Science Foundation.

Learn what a materials engineer does by hearing from a materials engineer! A great resource from mycooljob.org, produced by WOSU public radio.

The Career Cornerstone Center offers resources for anyone interested in exploring career opportunities in science, technology, and engineering, Explore the education requirements, salaries, networking, degrees, and career planning resources for Materials Science and Engineering.

Check out this website to find out what materials science is, its uses and applications, and how materials science is so important to the future of high technology, climate change, and space exploration!

A great article for learners of all ages! Professor Elizabeth Holm of Carnegie Mellon University sat down with U.S. News & World Report to discuss the importance of materials science engineering (MSE) and MSE education in society.

"Materialism" podcasts cover things like the unlikely discovery of superglue or Teflon and also reveals the fascinating backstories about modern biomaterials like dialysis filters. In these podcasts, Taylor Sparks and Andrew Falkowski of the University of Utah are investigating materials science and engineering by exploring cutting edge materials technology, the history of different materials, the commercialization of new materials, and exciting advances in processing and characterization.  They include updates on exciting new technologies including wearable electronics, next-generation batteries, and nanomaterials. In short, Materialism podcasts hope to help listeners understand the critical role that materials have played in society and even glimpse into what the future may hold for new materials.

Resources about Ceramic Materials

Here is very well-made video on ceramics—what they are, how they are made, and why they are nearly the perfect material!
Ceramics: This Material Won't Melt Away

Branches of Ceramics: Ceramics and glass are typically classified according to two main categories based on end-use: advanced/technical versus traditional products.  Traditional ceramics include refractories, structural clay products, whiteware, earthenware (i.e., pottery), abrasives, and cements, whereas glass includes primarily flat, container, and pressed and blown glass.  Advanced/technical ceramics include medical ceramics, electroceramics, optoceramics, and structural ceramics, to name but a few. Learn more at the link above about the various types of ceramics and glass, main products of each category, and the end-use.

Resources about Ceramic Engineering

"What is Ceramic Engineering?" is a delightfully interesting video about ceramic engineering by Dr. Alix Clare from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University.

We are proud to offer you a great PowerPoint presentation, "Let's Talk About Materials Science!", which offers a look at materials science and ceramic engineering. The presentation was developed by one of our student members, Andrew Ericks, who is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Resources about Piezoelectricity and Ceramics

The term piezoelectricity comes from the Greek word piezein, which means to press or squeeze. The phenomenon was named in 1880 by French scientists Pierre and Jacques Curie when they discovered that applying pressure to certain crystals caused them to produce an electric charge.  Click here to learn about how ceramics are used as piezoelectric materials.

Ceramic and Glass Science Higher Education

Ceramic Materials and the esteemed work of the Advanced Ceramic Research Laboratory at The Ohio State University.

Learn about the Center for Advanced Ceramic Technology at Alfred University in New York.

"The Field of Materials Science and Engineering" at The Ohio State University.

Undergraduate, graduate, and Ph.D. programs in Ceramic Engineering offered at Missouri S&T.

Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois

How to Communicate about Science

Be sure to take a look at information developed with help from the ACerS President's Council of Student Advisors on "Communicating Science"—a great resource for effectively communicating about science to those who do not have a technical background. Click here!

Teachers: Visit our LinkedIn page just for you

We have a special page on LinkedIn just for teachers!  Visit us at The Ceramic and Glass Industry Foundation's Teachers Forum for additional resources, to share best practices, correspond with other teachers and so forth.

Resources for Younger Students

Click here for a great website for the younger ones to learn about glass and recycling. There are age-appropriate videos, fun activities, and other resources!

We've found some terrific experiments by Bill Nye, The Science Guy, to help your children/students that will not only occupy their time, but educate and enrich! Click here!

Here is a cool and interesting video about how glass marbles are made!

"How is glass made?" is an easy-to-understand video that explains where glass comes from!

Resources about Refractories

Click here for an excellent presentation on LinkedIn about how refractories are contributing to global health and safety.

Everything about refractories is available through podcasts produced by HarbisonWalker International!

Resources about Manufacturing

Lehigh Valley (PA) hosted a student video contest called "What's so Cool about Manufacturing?" This video features information about a water bottle manufacturing plant.


ACerS members are materials scientists who specialize in ceramic and glass.

Materials matter because everything is made of stuff!

Eleven Divisions focus on specific materials and applications.

Read the latest industry news and trends.

Branches of Ceramics

Most people are familiar with traditional ceramics used in everyday objects such as dishes, pottery, sanitaryware, brick, art. Similarly, we are accustomed to glass in windows, drinking glasses, microscope optics, and fish tanks.

However, advanced ceramics and glass contribute in obvious and hidden ways. Examples include catalytic converter substrates in vehicles, cover glasses for smartphones and tablets, refractory linings of steelmaking furnaces, fiber optics for the internet, bone cements, ceramic armor, cutting tools, and much more.

From Better Brick to Today's Advanced Ceramics and Glass

Brick manufacturers founded ACerS in 1898 to apply scientific methods to manufacturing of clay products. Today, ACerS members research, develop, manufacture, and design engineered ceramics and glasses for use in nearly every technology.