Hi Casia. Prof. Shakhashiri asked that you just use his birth year, not his full birth date. He was born in Anfe, El-Koura, Lebanon in 1939. You can find more info on his web bio on our website at scifun.org
Good luck with your paper!
They're Water Gel Crystals, which come in different shapes and can be found at a website called Teachersource. The full demo can be found in Prof. Shakhashiri's new book, Chemical Demonstrations Volume 5, which can be found at the University of Wisconsin Press site, or on Teachersource. Glad to hear you're going to be doing this with your students!