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NanoBus to take nanoscience to schools

JULY 21, 2015 - Science is about to take a road trip.

The Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering on Tuesday unveiled its new NanoBus, which will bring after-school science programs to area middle and high schools.

Technically, the small bus is called the Mobile Nanotechnology Education Laboratory.

“That took way too much room on the side of the bus,” said James Ryan, the nanoschool’s founding dean, “so we call it the NanoBus.”

The nanoschool, jointly operated by N.C. A&T and UNC-Greensboro, is a graduate school and research lab where professors and students work with atoms, molecules and other tiny particles.

The NanoBus will take the nanoschool’s graduate students to local schools. There, they’ll perform scientific demonstrations and show off some of the concepts that students and researchers use every day at the school on East Gate City Boulevard.

Some of those demonstrations were on display Tuesday at a ceremony at the nanoschool.

A mix of water and corn starch left to vibrate atop a stereo speaker showed the concept of a non-Newtonian fluid. That’s a substance that is a solid or a liquid depending on how much force is applied.

Nanoschool students used balloons to demonstrate Bernoulli’s principle &mdash as a fluid gains speed, its pressure decreases &mdash and the fact that balloons deflate because latex is dotted with nanopores, or tiny holes that let air escape.

Students also showed off a 3-D printer, which can churn out a variety of plastic figures; and a scanning tunneling microscope, which takes images of atoms.

Ryan said he hopes the NanoBus can make five or six school visits a semester starting this fall.

The school’s dean said these school visits will give his students a chance to gain some teaching experience.

Area youth, meanwhile, will get some hands-on exposure to STEM &mdash science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“So many of us make (science) so complex that it pushes young people away,” A&T Chancellor Harold Martin said. The NanoBus, he added, “will help us to engage bright, talented young people.”

The Duke Energy Foundation contributed $75,000 to the project. Thomas Built Buses donated a Ford chassis and converted it into the NanoBus, which seats 12 passengers and has cargo storage shelves in the rear.

Posted: Tuesday, July 21, 2015 6:00 pm

NanoBus to take nanoscience to schools By John Newsom

Contact John Newsom at (336) 373-7312 and follow @JohnNewsomNR on Twitter.