12 December 2014

Nano bells, Single cells, Santa rides a sleigh

Nano game

This Christmas the classic chemistry set for the curious teenager is getting competition from a close scientific cousin. A Nano Science play set is making its way into socks and under trees, and scientists from the Nano-Science Center, Department of Chemistry helped shape the educational toy.

Playing with the innermost details

Bärbel Lorenz is an expert on atomic force microscopy working as a post-doctoral fellow at the Nano-Science Center. Together with colleagues Tue Hassenkam, Kim Nicole Dalby and Sören Dobberschütz she provided a suite of high resolution images to the developers of the “Nanotechnologie Experimentierkasten” at the German publisher KOSMOS.

Serendipity led to collaboration

How this task landed in Copenhagen is a lesson in randomness. Lorenz, who is herself German, spends her holidays as a volunteer on the German School ship Alexander Von Humboldt II (www.alex-2.de). Here she met a staff member from KOSMOS, who happened to need input for the up-coming box which is the first of its kind.

Several techniques make it possible to see the very smallest things

The pictures from the Nano Science Center serve to introduce techniques and cover the micro and the nano scale. They include scanning electron microscope pictures of the eyes of Drosophila flies as well as atomic force microscope pictures of butterfly wings, human blood cells and a calcite surface, which was imaged at atomic resolution.

Toys to inspire and educate

Although it is a toy, Bärbel Lorenz is happy to have been able to contribute to the box.

“If kids can get to see how cool and useful nanotechnology is, maybe they will become inspired to become the next generation of problem solvers. I think it is important to show that nano technology is not only made by us humans, but life in itself makes cool nano technology - like the feet of a Gecko, which allows the animal to walk upside down".

For German (speaking) children for the present

Apart from the microscope images the box contains several experiments suitable for children and young adults. But this Christmas kids need to be pretty good at German to enjoy it fully. An English version is not expected to be ready till some time in 2015.

The box is available through German Amazon at: http://www.amazon.de/Kosmos-631727-Nanotechnologie-Experiment/dp/B00HYHHMRQ