Smithsonian Offers Activities and Experiments during NanoDays 2010

Visitors Can Explore the World of Atoms, Molecules and Nanoscale Forces

The Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History presents NanoDays 2010, a nationwide festival of educational programs about nanoscale science and engineering, March 27 to April 3. The Lemelson Center is one of more than 200 science museums, research centers and universities across the country presenting hands-on activities, experiments and lectures pertaining to nanotechnology—the study of controlling matter on an atomic and molecular scale.

During NanoDays, the Lemelson Center offers visitors of all ages the opportunity to learn about nanotechnology through activities and experiments in Spark!Lab, the center’s hands-on invention and science space. Activities include constructing a giant model of a carbon nanotube entirely from balloons, measuring height in nanometers and creating a liquid crystal display that changes color as well as other nanotechnology-related experiments.

“Nanotechnology is a perfect example of how something very small can have such big importance,” said Arthur Molella, director of the center. “At the Lemelson Center, we believe that the tiniest spark of an idea can have widespread impact on everyday life.”

On Saturday, April 3, the Lemelson Center hosts Michael Fuhrer as part of the center’s Innovative Lives series, which inspires young people to explore the interdisciplinary world of invention. Fuhrer, a leading expert on nanoscale electronics and member of the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) at the University of Maryland, discusses his research in the field and the role of nanoelectronics in past, present and future innovations.

NanoDays activities in Spark!Lab April 3 will be led by science educators and nanotechnology experts from the Lemelson Center, the National Museum of Natural History, the National Air and Space Museum, the University of Maryland Material Research Science and Engineering Center, the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, the Association of Science-Technology Centers and the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, Northern Virginia Community College and Nanotec-USA.

Also on April 3, the Lemelson Center will host a forum on nanotechnology where participants can consider important nanotechnology-related issues, such as potential environmental, health and safety issues and the societal, ethical and legal implications of nanotechnology.

NanoDays is organized by the Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network, an organization funded through a five-year agreement by the National Science Foundation in 2005 to support a core group of science museums in collaboratively developing innovative approaches to engage the public in learning about nanoscale science and engineering.

NanoDays, the largest public outreach effort in nanoscale informal science education, is in its second year bringing university researchers together with science museum educators to create unique opportunities for children and adults to explore the miniscule world of atoms, molecules and nanoscale forces.

NISE Network partners include the core leadership team of the Museum of Science in Boston, the Science Museum of Minnesota and the Exploratorium in San Francisco. NanoDays 2010 is also supported by the Materials Research Society and the Association of Science-Technology Centers.

The Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center is dedicated to exploring invention in history and encouraging inventive creativity in young people. The center is supported by The Lemelson Foundation, a private philanthropy established by one of the country’s most prolific inventors, Jerome Lemelson, and his family. The Lemelson Center is located in the National Museum of American History. For more information, visit

The National Museum of American History collects, preserves and displays American heritage in the areas of social, political, cultural, scientific and military history. To learn more about the museum, check For Smithsonian information, the public may call (202) 633-1000, (202) 633-5285 (TTY).
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Kate Wiley