NanoExpress

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Review

of an Exhibit

by Margaret Glass

Published on July 24, 2007 , Modified on July 24, 2007

  • Description:

    The NanoExpress is a mobile nanoscience and technology lab created by Dr. Gary Harris, professor of electrical engineering and director of the National Nanofabrication Infrastructure Network (NNIN) node at Howard University. In the past decade, there have been numerous efforts by formal and informal science educators to increase the public understanding of emerging technologies like nanoscale science. Exhibitions have been created, participatory forums convened, videos and demonstrations presented in science museums around the world. Here’s a case where a researcher has created a mobile lab to bring real equipment and scientists (his staff are graduate students) to a variety of audiences. Since its dedication in February 2007, the NanoExpress has visited audiences ranging from a local preschool to a group of judges. The preschoolers get to see images of parts of insects collected from their schoolyard; judges consider the legal and ethical issues related to the manufacture and distribution of nanomaterials and products. An array of experiments and activities are carried in bins in the NanoExpress; there are experimental areas for visitors to explore nanoparticles, micro/nano fabrication, instrumentation (including both a scanning electron microscope and an atomic force microscope), and characterization. All of this is housed in a large, custom-built trailer towed to its destinations. The NanoExpress also includes green technology – a built-in biodiesel tank supplies the energy needed for the equipment during outreach visits.

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