Sand, Plants and Pants

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Sand, Plants and Pants is a hands-on activity exploring how the application of nano-sized particles or substances can change a bigger material’s properties. Visitors investigate the hydrophobic properties of plants, nano-fabric pants and magic sand.



Big Idea

Nanoscale science can change how materials behave on the macroscale.

Learning Goals

See how science and nanotechnology can change everyday materials.

Describe how some plant leaves have nano-sized bumps that repel water thus keeping their leaves clean and dry. This phenomenon is called the “Lotus Effect.”

Explain that Magic Sand and Nano fabrics are an example of nanotechnology that mimics the water-repelling “Lotus Effect” of some plant leaves.

Discuss how natural phenomena often inspires new innovations

Nano Content Map
Scientists and engineers have formed the interdisciplinary field of nanotechnology by investigating properties and manipulating matter at the nanoscale.
Nanoscience, nanotechnology, and nanoengineering lead to new knowledge and innovations that weren't possible before.


Year created

Developed for the NISE Network with funding from the National Science Foundation under Award Numbers 0532536 and 0940143. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this product are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation.

Owning institution

Children's Museum of Houston


Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 3.0 United States (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 US).
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Development Process

NISE Network products are developed through an iterative collaborative process that includes scientific review, peer review, and visitor evaluation in accordance with an inclusive audiences approach. Products are designed to be easily edited and adapted for different audiences under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike license. To learn more, visit our Development Process page.