At the Nanoscale is a static component that aims to show just how super small one billionth of a meter, or one nanometer, really is. A Billion Beads is an activity where visitors inspect tubes that hold quantities of one thousand tiny beads, one million beads, and one billion beads. To the naked eye, the tube containing one thousand beads appears nearly empty. Visitors see that the next tube, partially filled, contains one million beads. Finally, to compare, a four-foot tall container nearly full contains approximately one billion beads.
Visitors will engage in a variety of survey type questions focusing on different aspects of nanotechnology. For each question posed, they will be provided short descriptions about the possible options. They will then place their vote using a marble in the container labeled with their selection. Throughout the day the public will be able to visualize how others have answered the same question by looking at the quantity of marbles in each container. Museum staff can use the data to chart trends in public knowledge about nanotechnology.