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Where's Nano?

We're Regina, Linda, Harrison, Jared, Lorenz, and Randi, and we just met for at a science camp reunion at the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center in Chapel Hill, NC. We visited the "Zoom In" exhibit and were surprised to learn that even mucus (yuck!) has something to do with the nanoscale. Our question: What other examples of nanoscale science and technology can we find in our everyday lives?

What did we do?
We broke up into two teams and set out on a nano scavenger hunt. We did some research and found examples of nanotechnology everywhere from the sporting goods store to a botanical garden. At the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, a scientist helped us get a closer look at the nanoscale structure in some of our items.

What did we find out?
We discovered that nanotechnology exists in a lot of things that you wouldn't expect! There's nanotechnology in some sports equipment (like tennis racquets), clothing (like pants), and even in nature (like on the leaves of a lotus plant or the pads on a gecko's feet). People are able to imitate the nanotechnology found in nature in order to improve already existing products and even make new ones! When we got back together, we created a display for the science center that grouped our findings into the following categories: nature, technology and the future. Our quest for all things nano was complete!

What can you do?
  • Have a friend put several small objects in a paper bag (some examples: battery, paperclip, nut, pen cap). Reach into the bag and feel the objects, but don't look at them! How many objects can you figure out? Just because we can't see things doesn't mean we can't learn about them. Nanoscientists are experts at studying the world of the invisible!
  • Conduct a mini nanoblitz! Look around your house, in a sporting goods store or at school. How many things can you find that are labeled "nano" or were made using nanotechnology?
  • Would you want to know if a product was made using nanotechnology? Would it make a difference if it were food or sports equipment? Would you be more likely to buy something if it said "nano" on the label? See what other kids are saying in our Hey...Wait a Nanosecond! feature and share your thoughts!
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Science and Technology

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whiz quiz
What round object is one billionth of the Earth's diameter?

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