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NanoDays is a nationwide festival of educational programs about nanoscale science and engineering and its potential impact on the future. It features exhibits and educational programs at more than 200 locations throughout the nation through April 3rd, at science museums, research centers, and universities, including the one shown in our video here in the nation’s capital at the Spark!Lab, located in the Lemelson Center at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of American History.
NanoDays activities 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, through a combination of simple hands-on activities for young people and presentations on current research for adults.
In one of NanoDays’ most popular activities, visitors work together to build a giant balloon model of a carbon nanotube. Real carbon nanotubes, which are 1/50,000 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.
Other NanoDays activities demonstrate the unexpected properties of a variety of materials at the nanoscale, such as sand that doesn’t get wet, even under water; water that won’t spill from a tiny teacup when it’s turned upside down; and suspensions of quantum dots that change color depending on particle size. Some sites host forum programs engaging the public in discussions about the benefits and risks of particular applications of nanotechnology, while several universities host public tours of their laboratories.
The NanoDays exhibits and events are created and organized by participants in the Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network , a National Science Foundation - funded program that raises awareness about the important new field of nanotechnology. The National Science Foundation is a member of the National Nanotechnology Initiative, a Federal program that coordinates efforts in nanotechnology research and development by bringing together the expertise needed to guide and support the advancement of this broad and complex field.