HOUSTON (March 10, 2012) - More than 300 children, parents, and staff spent Saturday afternoon, March 10, at The Methodist Hospital Research Institute to participate in NanoDay 2012, a celebration of nanotechnology and medical science.
The second annual event was hosted and organized by TMHRI, with sponsorship from the Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network and Mr. and Mrs. George Kostas.
"New cures for cancer will almost necessarily include nanotechnology, so it is very important that our children learn about it as early as possible so they can be inspired to contribute when their turn comes," Mauro Ferrari, Ph.D., TMHRI President and CEO and Ernest Cockrell Jr. Distinguished Endowed Chair of the Department of Nanomedicine, told Fox affiliate KRIV-TV 26.
After Ferrari welcomed the children and their parents in the TMHRI auditorium, Department of Nanomedicine Co-Chair Ennio Tasciotti showed the kids scanning electron microscope images, and then asked the children what they thought the images were. At high magnification to the nanometer scale, a sponge looked like a landscape with mountains and valleys to the children.
With the help of volunteers from The Methodist Academy and the DeBakey High School for Health Professions, children in attendance also learned about tiny synthetic materials and machines, the behavior of gases, and the optical properties of butterfly wings through educational games and other activities.
Carlos Monroy, from the Rice University Center for Technology in Teaching and Learning (CTTL) was also on site with an internet café for the children to play an educational computer game called MedMyst about infectious diseases. TMHRI and the Rice CTTL are partnering to develop a companion game based on nanotechnology.
Tasciotti organizes a similar event in Gagliato, Italy, called Piccola Accademia di Gagliato delle Nanoscienze, also sponsored by NISE. The scientists asked children in Houston to prepare a taped message to be played later this year to their Italian counterparts. "Ciao, bambini di Gagliato!" the children shouted to a camera, before heading to the activity tables and the line for gelato, Italian ice cream.
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