Friday, January 16, 2004

'Nanoworld' is about solving small mysteries

Dear Howard:

As one of the creators of 'It's a NanoWorld,' let me set out a few details.

It's a NanoWorld was created through a collaboration between the Nanobiotechnology Center, (an NSF supported Science and Technology Center), the Sciencenter (a hands-on science museum in Ithaca NY) and Painted Universe (a design fabrication firm in Lansing NY).

The effort began some three years ago with two very simple questions that we posed to somewhere around 100 kids.
  1. What is the smallest thing that you can see?
  2. What is the smallest thing that you can think of?
The majority of kids especially those that attend science museums like the Sciencenter was pretty much uniform. The smallest thing that they could see was also the smallest thing that they could think of. Granted the questions were perhaps leading but the world that is 'too small to see' is one of great mystery to kids and one of the greatest challenges to kids understanding nanotechnology. Or even microtechnology.

So 'It's a Nanoworld' focuses on the microscopic world and hopefully kids start to gain an understanding of the world that is too small to see and the tools that are used to see it (microscopes, magnifying glasses, etc). We also introduce visitors to the technology used to make small things largely photolithographic based techniques.

'It's a NanoWorld' is not about nanobots, molecular manufacturing or anything along those lines but rooted in some fundamental concepts of size and scale and current technology. But more importantly the exhibition is fun, kids get engaged, adults read the signs and the communicate with their kids about the science.

We are very proud to have 'It's a Nanoworld' at INNOVENTIONS at Epcot. It represents one of the first opportunities for a non-commercial organization at this venue and it gives the public the chance to see the grand things that National Science Foundation supports. The NSF and we at the NBTC take our mission to engage the public very seriously believing that kids represent the future and that a more scientifically literate population is able to better judge the promise and potential challenges of emerging technology.

And if you can't make it to INNOVENTIONS at Epcot, there is video footage at

Carl A. Batt
Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor
Founder, Main Street Science Director,
Cornell University/Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research Partnership
Co-Director, Nanobiotechnology Center

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