(2010) UW MRSEC and NSF Share Everyday Applications and Cutting-Edge Research with a Broad Audience at the 2010 AAAS Annual Meeting

  • By: Juan J. de Pablo and Greta M. Zenner Petersen

The University of Wisconsin – Madison (UW) Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) on Nanostructured Interfaces partnered with the National Science Foundation (NSF) to lead interactive science and engineering activities for a wide range of audiences in the exhibit hall at the 2010 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The meeting was in San Diego, CA, from February 18-2

UW MRSEC Education Director, Greta Zenner Petersen, and four UW MRSEC graduate students (Samira Azarin, Josef Spalenka, Jose Sanchez Perez, and Arrielle Opotowsky) staffed the “Exploring the Nanoworld, Innovating through Materials” section of the NSF booth during the three days the exhibit was open.

A highlight of the three-day event was Family Science Days on Saturday and Sunday (Feb 20-21). This free event enabled members of the general public to engage with practicing scientists, learn about future STEM careers, and catch up with the latest research.

The five UW MRSEC representatives shared the excitement of nanotechnology and materials science with visitors through hands-on activities about carbon nanotubes and the forms of carbon (which included a 20-foot tall balloon model of a nanotube); light-emitting diodes (LEDs); and metal alloys that “remember” their shape (memory metal). In alignment with the theme of the AAAS meeting, “Where Science Meets Society”, all of activities shared the current – and future – connections of these materials with our everyday lives.

People standing in a group
LEFT: UW MRSEC graduate students and Education Director, celebrate three successful days of engaging with a wide range of audiences by posing with their giant balloon model of carbon nanotube. Minutes later, the graduate students and several young Family Science Days visitors took down the model and shared in the fun and noise of popping a large number of balloons.

RIGHT: UW MRSEC graduate students (L to R: Jose Sanchez Perez, Samira Azarin, Arrielle Opotowsky, and Josef Spalenka) show off their forms of carbon models as they set up the booth in anticipation of the opening day of the exhibit hall.