Suzi Taylor, assistant director of Outreach and Communications at MSU’s Extended University, has seen NanoDays/MicroDays grow and expand disciplines. Previously known only as NanoDays, ten years ago, MSU Extended University received a grant to host an outreach day because “people were really freaked out by nanotechnology,” Taylor said. “People thought it would be little robots swimming in your bloodstream.” NanoDays/MicroDays has grown to include not only nanotechnology, but micro booths as well. Taylor wanted to open it up to more representation.“We realized not everyone works at the nano level,” she said.
On Feb. 28, children and their families from the Bozeman community came for field trips to the SUB Ballrooms which were lined with approximately 17 booths, a range of hands-on experiments and college students to explain how long candy takes to break down in their stomachs, or nano sand, among other topics. One group smashed strawberries to extract the DNA, while another put on bunny suits, white jumpsuits worn by scientists to be completely sterile going into a room.
MSU soils professor Tony Hartshorn of the #soilculture booth, said the number one rule of science is “don’t kill the wonder.” His booth tested the pH level of Bozeman soil. Across from the soil booth was one where kids were able to stick their hands in jello, dropping it onto a plate. “Our booth is about high-speed video taping and soft matter deformations,” Shawna Pratt, a senior in chemical engineering, said. Student Cameron Taylor said he learned that “science can be smaller than you can see, but it’s still important that you learn it.”