Girls and Nano

Vrylena Olney

I just got an email from Jayatri Das from The Franklin Institute about one of their NanoDays events targeted specifically to girls. The event, Girls Exploring Tomorrow's Technology (GETT), is designed to engage girls (grades 6 - 12) in science and introduce them to women who are actively involved in STEM careers. One of Jayatri's network partners, Amy Brunner at the Penn State University Center for Nanotechnology Education and Utilization gave the keynote talk, and Jayatri was there doing hands-on NanoDays activities. One girl even followed up with Jayatri after about doing nanopants as a science project for school!

Here's what Jayatri said about the event:

"About 175 people (both girls and their parents) attended Amy's keynote, where she challenged some of the girls' preconceptions about traits of scientists, shared her excitement about working in nanotechnology (and brought some nano fabric and sports equipment to show off), and stressed the importance of education in pursuing a career in science.

"After the morning keynote, I led three breakout activity sessions with about 15-25 girls in each group. In each session, I first introduced myself and my career path from science to science education, talked about how small a nanometer really is (cutting a ruler activity and measuring your hand activity), then talked about how small things can have surprising behaviors (teacup activity and "sand hand" activity), and finally described applications of nanotechnology (using an interactive model of how nano fabric works).

Jayatri noticed that the younger girls were fascinated by the surprising phenomena that they didn't expect, whether it was the water sticking to the mini-cup, the sand hand taking on weird shapes, or water rolling off the nano fabric. The group of mostly high school girls were really interested in the future potential of nanotechnology, as many of them were interested in medicine. Jayatri talked with them about using nanogold to treat cancer and got tons of questions.

Overall, Jayatri wrote, "the event was a great success, targeted exactly the right audience that we're trying to reach, and I'm hoping to participate again next year!"