The Montgomery-Floyd Regional Library hosted The National Center for Earth and Environmental Infrastructure (NanoEarth) for their November Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Night at the Meadowbrook Library. The evening session brought in 1 adult and 3 youth library patrons, giving each participant a customized learning experience.

NanoEarth’s Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM) Specialist, Charis Horn, Ph.D., Virginia Tech’s Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology Laboratory Director, Weinan Leng, Ph.D., and Virginia Tech Nanomedicine undergraduate student Micheal Erb led participants in interactive activities. Patrons learned how changing a property at the nanoscale can be observed in everyday items, such as water-resistant dress pants.

Participants learned about nanotechnology through hands-on demonstrations of NanoDays Kits. They used kinetic sand to create castles, animals, and various shapes. This sand has nano properties that enable it to never dry out and constantly break apart, rather than staying in one shape. They dropped hydrophobic nano sand into water, and observed how the sand stays dry and never mixes with the water. Patrons compared two pairs of fabrics based on color, feel, and overall look. After placing water droplets on the two sets of fabrics, they noticed water on one set was soaking in, while water droplets bounced off the other set. This experiment taught them about nano coated fabric fibers used in everyday water and stain resistant clothing. Lastly, participants placed magnets on two different test tubes, one filled with black sand the other with ferrofluid. Both materials are made of magnetite but act differently due to their particle size. They also placed a magnet on a United States dollar bill to see the magnetic properties of ferrofluid in the ink.

Adult and youth library patrons interacted with the demo kits, while learning about nanotechnology. They took home NanoEarth stickers, Cornell Nanoscale Facility’s (CNF) Nanooze magazines, and MIT.nano coloring sheets to commemorate their experiences.