Material science department hosts NanoDays program for young students

Dunham

Dunham

Story by David Burish, Staff Writer

NanoDays is a national program focused on introducing fun and interactive ways of learning about nano science and technology. The UW-Eau Claire material science department hosted this event for the second year at the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire Tuesday and Cadott Elementary School on Thursday.

Douglas Dunham, director of the Material Science Center, said this event is about understanding the concept of nano science, the study of the microscopic, and how it applies in the world.

“As things get smaller the properties change,” Dunham said. “That’s a whole new area of science that is becoming more commonly used in commercial products.”

Dunham also said the field is continuing to expand with the growth in smart phones and stain resistant clothing. The material science department is exposing Eau Claire students and the community to this important science.

“It really is about understanding materials,” Dunham said. “Everything around us is made of material and often what we try to do is make them stronger and smarter.”

Dunham
Dunham

Dunham has been the director of the Material Science Center since 2004. The program has impacted senior students Caramon Ives and Jason Leicht.

Both Ives and Leicht presented at the NanoDays activities and said that exposing young students to science is crucial to expanding the field.

“When you’re excited about something at a young age it transfers to what you may do for the rest of your life,” Leicht said.

“As a kid I was excited about science and I just like the idea of spreading that further,” Ives said.

Leicht also said that the partnership with the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire would give the event some greater exposure and add to the strength of the program.

Leicht and Ives are only two of about 20 student presenters this year and Dunham said the students were enthusiastic at the opportunity to share their knowledge.

“As soon as I said we were going to do this last year they just jumped at the opportunity,” Dunham said. “It’s important to get out in the community and explain material sciences.”

The university’s newest major provides students with a wide variety of course material ranging from physics, chemistry and even portions of engineering. The new Material Science Center also holds millions of dollars of top-of-the-line technology, which Ives said was key to his major change.

“A lot of it had to do with how diverse it is. It’s the culmination of a lot of stuff I’m interested in,” Ives said. “I also am impressed with all of the machines we are able to use.”

Dunham said that the technology available to the undergraduates in this program is unmatched.

“It’s a very hands-on program. There is the course work but we try very hard to have our students use the technology.”

Dunham also said that the Material Science Center may be an unknown entity to a majority of the campus but hopes with events like NanoDays and the work of students like Ives and Leicht, more students can help grow this program.