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Below The Surface

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

NanoDays at ECHO!

On Saturday April 2nd, staff and students from the UVM Physics Department partnered with ECHO for Nanodays! Dave Hammond, Scientific Electronics Technician, Professor Dennis Clougherty, and eleven undergraduate physics students spent the morning entertaining and explaining, with hands-on activities, to our 400 or more guests some of the wonders of the science of the very little: nanoscience. One cool experiment the students demonstrated was Exploring Size - Scented Balloons; letting visitors use their sense of smell to explore the world on the nanoscale. Guests learned that we can smell some things that are too small to see, and that a nanometer is a billionth of a meter. There was a hands-on activity called Sand, Plants and Pants where guests explored how the application of nano-sized particles or substances can change a bigger material’s properties. Visitors investigated the hydrophobic properties of nano-fabric pants thatcouldn’t get wet and magic sand and plants that repelled water. Another activity encouraged you to measure your hand in nanometers (your hair strand is ~80,000 nanometers) or watch with fascination how the ferrofluid appeared to dance on the pulsed electromagnet. The Van de Graaff generator was supplemented with “dancing” foil which demonstrated static electricity. It was an exciting day of events that kept the young and the young at heart learning in a hands-on way. A couple of highlights during the day were some science “tricks” demonstrated by Dave. He demonstrated, with help from liquid nitrogen, how to float a paper cup above magnets and shoot a metal disk into the air. Educating us through several small experiments, Dave shared interesting facts about how conductivity works; like the way cold objects conduct currents better and how conductive metals generate more powerful fields when a strong magnet is nearby. His finale can be seen on the side photo where a super-cooled metal disk, when repelled by the strong magnet, went flying from the main floor of ECHO to the third floor by the geese! At the end of the day, we were sad to see them go but the UVM Physics Department will be back with us another day with more fun and knowledge to share.

Co-authored by: Patrick Brien, ECHO Intern, Champlain College and Linda Bowden, ECHO’s Lifelong Learning Coordinator

Photos by Patrick Brien, ECHO intern. Top right: Viviana Marie Kennedy with UVM student Isabel Kloumann. Bottom left: David Hammond, UVM.

1 comment:

  1. looks like this was a great time! Whoever organized this really knows what he's doing!

    ReplyDelete