Materials Research Science and Engineering Center joins second annual NanoDays
The University of Wisconsin–Madison Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) on Nanostructured Interfaces presents NanoDays 2009, part of the second annual nationwide festival of educational programs about nanoscale science and engineering and its potential impact on the future.
The largest public outreach effort in nanoscale informal science education, NanoDays events, organized by the Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network (NISE Net), will take place Saturday, March 28-Sunday, April 5, at more than 200 science museums, research centers and universities across the country from Maine to Hawaii.
NanoDays activities will bring university researchers together with science museum educators to create unique new learning experiences for both children and adults to explore the miniscule world of atoms, molecules and nanoscale forces. Most NanoDays sites will combine simple hands-on activities for young people with presentations on current research for adults.
In one popular activity, visitors together build a giant balloon model of a carbon nanotube. Real carbon nanotubes, which are 1/50,000th of the width of a human hair, have a unique cylindrical structure, extraordinary strength and unusual electrical properties making them useful in electronics and materials science. NanoDays activities demonstrate other unexpected properties of materials at the nanoscale — sand that won’t get wet even under water, water that won’t spill from a teacup, and colors that depend upon particle size. Some sites will host forum programs engaging the public in discussions about the benefits and risks of particular applications of nanotechnology, while several universities will host public tours of their laboratories.
UW-Madison will host a series of public nanotechnology events during the national celebration of Nano Days March 28-April 5, but will also extend its NanoDays events through Saturday, April 18. The lineup includes:
- Wednesday, April 1: Energy and Nanotechnology. A public forum featuring Kimberly Duncan, postdoctoral fellow, MRSEC; Robert Hamers, professor, Department of Chemistry; and Paige Wiecinski, Ph.D. candidate, Molecular and Environmental Toxicology Center. Three short presentations will introduce nanotechnology, highlight the impact nanomaterials may have on alternative energy technologies and present possible environmental implications of nanomaterials. Following the presentations, attendees will be charged to actively engage with the experts and discuss the implications of nanotechnology research. The forum will be held from 7-8:30 p.m. in Room 1111, Genetics-Biotechnology Building, 425 Henry Mall. Admission is free, and parking is available in Lot 60.
- Saturday, April 4: Science Expeditions. This annual public science expo will include a two-story carbon nanotube balloon model and hands-on nanotechnology activities. The event will be held from noon-4 p.m. in the Microbial Sciences Building, 1550 Linden Drive, and the Biochemistry Addition, 433 Babcock Drive. Admission is free.
- Sunday, April 5: NanoDays at the Madison Children’s Museum. Children and families are encouraged to become “Microexplorers” and investigate objects too small to see using a light microscope during this drop-in program at the Madison Children’s Museum. The event will be held from 1-3 p.m. at the Madison Children’s Museum, 100 State St. Admission is $5 per person and free on the first Sunday of every month (this event occurs on April’s Free Family Sunday).
- Thursday-Saturday, April 16-18: Engineering Expo. Engineering Expo is a large, bi-annual, three-day event that brings thousands of kids and adults to UW–Madison to see, learn about, and experience engineering firsthand. This year’s nanotechnology exhibit will feature a giant nanotube balloon model and 15 hands-on tabletop activities highlighting nanoscale science and engineering. Engineering Expo 2009 will span the following days: April 16 — activities targeted at kindergarten-sixth grade; April 17 — activities targeted at seventh-12th grade; April 18 — activities targeted at the general public. While the general public is welcome to attend Engineering Expo on any day, activities on Thursday and Friday are targeted at the listed audiences. The expo will be held from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on the College of Engineering campus on Engineering Drive. Children are $3, adults are $5, school chaperones and UW–Madison students are free. Parking in Lot 17 will be $5-$8 on April 16 and 17; parking is free on April 18.
The National Science Foundation funded NISE Net in 2005 to support a core group of science museums led by the Museum of Science, with the Science Museum of Minnesota and San Francisco’s Exploratorium, to collaboratively develop and distribute innovative approaches to engaging Americans in learning about nanoscale science and engineering. The NSF’s $20 million award to the Museum of Science and its partners is the foundation’s largest ever to the science museum community.
Through activities like NanoDays, the NISE Net is building partnerships between science museums and research centers to increase the capacity of both kinds of institutions to engage the public in learning about nanoscale science and engineering. In addition to the individual museums and research centers, two major professional organizations — the Materials Research Society and the Association of Science-Technology Centers — are supporting NISE Net and NanoDays 2009 activities. For NISE Net Nanodays information or to download a digital NanoDays kit visit http://www.nisenet.org/nanodays.
In addition to the core leadership team of the Museum of Science, Boston, the Science Museum of Minnesota and the Exploratorium in San Francisco, core NISE Network partners include the New York Hall of Science; the Sciencenter in Ithaca; the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry; the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History; the Museum of Life and Science in North Carolina; the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia; the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley; the Association of Science-Technology Centers; the Materials Research Society; the nanotech education outreach group at UW–Madison, the Center for Nanotechnology in Society headquartered at Arizona State University; and the National Center for Learning and Teaching (NCLT) in Nanoscale Science and Engineering, headquartered at Northwestern University, which is developing nanoscale curricula for middle and high schools.