This is the 4th article in our series to provide you additional insights and resources regarding the fantastic experiences your children shared (or missed) at Science Night.
by Rohini Sigireddi, Rice University (Mark Twain Alumna’03)
I began my interest in science at Mark Twain. I distinctly remember one first grade science lesson about measurement. This exercise introduced us to standard units of measurement, meters for length, grams for weight, and seconds for time. In Mrs. Anisworth’s fifth grade class, I recall learning about metric prefixes, which allowed me to understand how these units of measurement could be manipulated, to kilometers, milligrams, and microseconds. In my later studies in high school and college, I began to explore the importance of one special prefix, nano.
Nanotechnology is the study of small things, which are on the scale of nanometers, items that are 109 times smaller than a meter. Nanotechnology is a burgeoning field, with applications in science, engineering, and medicine. Notable accomplishments in this field include the discovery of a nano-sized carbon structure, buckminsterfullerene, which is a molecule composed of 60 carbon atoms, arranged in a soccer ball-like structure. This structure, colloquially referred to as a ‘buckyball,’ was discovered by scientists Richard Smalley and Robert Curl, of Rice University, and Harold Kroto, who were awarded the 1996 Nobel Prize. Other important nanotechnology discoveries include the fabrication of carbon nanotubes, which have unique electrical properties and can be used to improve conductivity of electrical wires, and gold nanoshells, which have been used to treat breast cancer, and are currently in phase I clinical trials.
Nanotechnology is a field of growing importance. It is prudent to introduce children to nanotechnology at a young age, as they will explore science at the nano-level in their future science classes, and use products largely enhanced by nanotechnology.
I hope that you share my interest in introducing nanotechnology to the younger generations. I have included some helpful links to spread the message of nanotechnology.
NanoKids: This site, produced by Rice University, provides a workbook, and series of nanotechnology videos for kids.
Nanozone: This is a kid-friendly website produced by the University of California – Berkeley.
Nanooze: This site provides approachable explanations of recent discoveries in science and technology.
Nanotechnology: Discovery Channel: This site provides excellent pictures of nanostructures that may be interesting for kids to view.
NSF: Nanotechnology Initiative Network: This site provide links to all NSF funded projects designed to introduce nanotechnology to kids.
Beyond Science Night: Programming
Beyond Science Night: Hands-on Renewable Energy for Kids
Beyond Science Night: Geologist for a Day