Nano roadshow spawns sequel

July 2, 2004 -While one nano show crisscrosses the country to rave reviews, the creative team behind it has gotten the green light for a sequel.

The National Science Foundation has awarded $1.8 million for the development and staging of “Too Small to See,” a 3,500 square-foot traveling exhibition that is intended to immerse children and adults in the world of nanoscale science and engineering.

The project is a collaboration of the Ithaca, N.Y.-based Sciencenter, Painted Universe and Main Street Science, the kindergarten-through-12th grade education program of Cornell University’s Nanobiotechnology Center.

Too Small to See, which will be developed and field-tested during the next two years and plans to hit the road in three, is intended to build on the team’s first exhibit, “It’s a NanoWorld.” That interactive display spent several months at Disney World’s Epcot Center, and plans stops in Ohio, South Carolina, Michigan and Texas.

“What we’ve learned from the success of (the first exhibit) is it’s got to be hands-on, it’s got to be fun,” said Carl Batt, co-director of the nanobio center and co-founder of Main Street Science. “That idea is something we’re going to carry forth.”

The first show focuses on children ages 5-8, and the sequel is targeting 8- to 13-year-olds, as well as adults. That is spurring the team to try to introduce a little more chemistry and optics — “the stuff that is a little more abstract,” according to Anna Waldron, the project’s principal investigator.

Both Waldron and Batt also plan for the new exhibit to bring nanotech to smaller, rural venues that typically don’t make the list of such roadshows. The NSF proposal was written with that in mind, and will offer rental subsidies to eligible centers and museums.


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