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Scouts, Venture Crew to Learn About Science of the Very Small March 18

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March 7, 2006 | by Megan Fellman

EVANSTON, Ill. --- One hundred local Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Venture Crew members (both girls and boys) and adult leaders will spend a morning getting an up-close look at the hot field of nanotechnology Saturday, March 18, at Northwestern University.

The annual event, sponsored by the University’s International Institute for Nanotechnology, will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. at the Technological Institute, 2145 Sheridan Road, Evanston campus. Space is still available for interested scouts or Venture Crew members. Leaders should contact Michael Kleppinger at m.kleppinger@sbcglobal.net for more information and to register.

In the weeks leading up to the event, each troop will research a nanotechnology topic of its choice, ranging from nanolithography and carbon nanotubes to the societal impact of nanotechnology, prior to coming to Northwestern. For assistance with research-related questions, troops are matched with graduate students who act as mentors. Troop members will present their findings to the larger group at a poster session March 18.

The morning program will include presentations by Mark Hersam, an Eagle Scout and assistant professor of materials science and engineering, and graduate students providing “An Introduction to Nanotechnology” and graduate students discussing “Life as a Scientist”; the research poster session; hands-on activities involving nanoscience concepts and design challenges; and laboratory tours including demonstrations of research instruments such as atomic force and scanning electron microscopes. The event will conclude in the early afternoon with a pizza party.

“The scouts get an up-close look at this exciting new field of science and meet the scientists -- many not much older than they -- who are making breakthrough discoveries at this premier research institute,” said Michael Kleppinger, assistant scoutmaster of Troop 309 of Lake Zurich, who is one of the program’s organizers. “The scouts’ interaction with these scientists and the demonstrations of the advanced tools used in research will give them much to think about as they choose their future studies and careers.”

To date, participating troops are from Evanston, Wilmette, Chicago, Lake Zurich, Streamwood, Northbrook, Libertyville and Buffalo Grove. The scouts and Venture Crew members are aged 13 and older. (Venturing is a program of the Boy Scouts of America.)

Nanotechnology, or nanoscience, refers to the design, fabrication and control of small structures on the nanometer length scale -- that of atoms and molecules. (A nanometer is one billionth of a meter.)

This year’s “Scout Nano Event” is primarily supported by the Nanoscale Science and Engineering Initiative of the National Science Foundation.