NanoDays opens eyes to youth

Partnership offers Eau Claire interaction with scientific community, innovation


UW-Eau Claire senior Owen Szulgit demonstrates the separation of ions from one object to another as part of the NanoDays event, put on by the Material Science Center, Tuesday at the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire. © 2014 Steve Fruehauf

Story by Steve Fruehauf, Sports Editor

UW-Eau Claire’s Material Science Center partnered with the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire to host their third annual NanoDays event Tuesday. NanoDays is part of a nationwide initiative exploring the development of small-scale science and engineering.

New nano products, 3D images and the implications of what would happen if scientists built an elevator reaching space were among the main topics covered during the presentation. While the last may seem farfetched, Materials Science Center Director Doug Dunham said it was included to pique interest in the event more than anything.

“It’s a great way for the community to learn about nano and material science,” Dunham said. “But it’s also a great way for all of these students to interact with the community. It’s a great chance to tell other people about what they’re interested in.”

Several Eau Claire students ran work stations examining different science experiments following the discussion. Senior material science major Owen Szulgit’s station explored fabrication through electroplating.

Simply put, he said the experiment involved using electricity to push metal ions off one object and deposit them onto another. While he mainly attended the event as a way to fulfill his service learning hours, Szulgit said this opportunity was a great way to inspire the community through science.

“I think children from a young age get pushed toward finding something that interests them and pursuing that right away in their education,” Szulgit said. “I think this is a good way of doing that.”

Dunham said while this is the event’s third year in Eau Claire, it’s only the second time being held at the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire. It was held on campus three years ago, but he said the turnout wasn’t what the organization hoped for.

He said the goal of the event was to involve the community, but getting people on campus was more difficult than he had previously thought. Partnering with the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire, he said, was a great way of centralizing the event so all interested could attend.

The Children’s Museum of Eau Claire’s Kid’s Director Tracy Messner said not only was the event a hit last year, but there was a great turnout Tuesday as well. The event housed over 100 people and Messner said the students and professors in attendance were busy the entire two and a half hours it was open.

Messner said the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire was on board with the partnership immediately. They too realized the value of science to this generation, she said, especially while they are still young.

“With the range of the kids, we have the younger kids to the middle school kids, they all enjoy it so much that it opens up their minds to science,” Messner said. “Hopefully it gets them interested in it.”