Seeing the Future at NANOvember Community Day

by Sandra Foyt on November 10, 2010

in Enrichment Ideas

nano_community_day3Community Day is a once a year opportunity to get a glimpse behind the futuristic façade of the College of Nanoscale Science & Engineering (CNSE) buildings. As cool as they appear from the outside, nothing compares with the wow factor of the work that takes place within these walls. It’s not an exaggeration to say that CNSE is “changing the world with nanotechnology.”

On the first weekend in November, I took my son to his second NANOvember Community Day. Although he attended last year, and many of the activities were repeated, he enjoyed the event as much as I did.

We were greeted at the entrance to the Community Day program with mini bottles of water, light-up yoyos, and an invitation to help ourselves to popcorn. Given my son’s love affair with popcorn, we needed little else to make this event a success.


In the NFE Rotunda, we found several fun hands on activities geared toward junior scientists: building a computer chip with Legos, building polymers, measuring your height in nanometers, building a buckyball model, and several more.


We didn’t linger in this area, and instead opted to head out to the events in the other buildings. Arguably the highlight of Community Day is the Cleanroom Tours in the NFN Viewing Corridor. This was the one event where photos were not allowed. Instead, here is an exterior shot of the building. I don’t know why, but it always reminds me of Woody Allen’s Sleeper.


Along the way, we dropped by the NFS Rotunda where there were several tables displaying CNSE Education and Research. I was particularly interested in the medical applications, and chatted with a couple of graduate students working on Next Generation Hybrid NeuroProsthetics and Novel Vertically Aligned Carbon Nano Tube NanoProsthetics. Try saying that fast five times!



As it turns out, I had plenty of time to chat about nano prosthetics because my son was in line at the end of the table for the very popular Mind Flex Game station. This game supposedly reads your brain waves through a headset to levitate a foam ball.


I have my doubts about how this game functions, but the ball was cruising in the the air around the obstacle course. Of course, now my son wants to save up his allowance to buy his own Mind Flex Game!


Our final stop of the day, well, our next to final stop was at the CESTM building for a Cleanroom Gowning Demonstration. A young boy was selected to model proper attire in a clean room environment. Suffice it to say, this was a layered look that took several minutes to assemble.


The next participant was a ringer. My son was asked to list the three kinds of snow, but having done this the previous year, he had no problem rattling off the answers.


Our final stop took us back to where we started for another bag of popcorn!

I highly recommend taking the kids to NANOvember Community Day when it returns next year. Plan on at least two hours to take advantage of all the tours, lectures, demonstrations, and hands on activities.


You Might Like:

| Sandra Foyt is a storyteller, photographer, and road trip junkie. A veteran of six cross-country road trips, she drove Route 66, the Lincoln Highway, the fossil freeway, the extraterrestrial highway, and even “the loneliest road in America.” Find her on, an award-winning destination guide to extraordinary travel in and from Northeast USA, on her portfolio site at, and in freelance gigs on Family Travel 411, Minitime, Huffington Post, and Matador Network. Email:, Twitter @SandraFoyt.

Previous post:

Next post: