Grad Students Aim to Make Nanotech Fun, Accessible for Kids


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The ambassadors will lead school groups, 4-H activities and summer campers as well as children taking part in NanoDays, an annual weeklong festival of educational programs about nanoscale science and engineering sponsored by the National Science Foundation. The 2016 NanoDays celebration is slated for March 26-April 3.

Melanie-Claire Mallison, CNF’s public relations associate, said the CNF attracts approximately 2,000 visitors a year, many of them young people. She said she’s excited about the possibilities that arise when developing minds are exposed to new ideas.

Grad student Shi saw the effect his outreach had on young people who might never have been exposed to his type of work otherwise. Fellow CNF Ambassadors volunteer Ryan Badman’s first exposure to outreach came at the other end of the interaction. The graduate of nearby Jordan-Elbridge High, outside of Syracuse, took a summer physics program at Syracuse University, where his father, Lee, works as an adjunct.

“That’s what got me into physics,” said Badman, whose work focuses on biophysics, nanofabrication and microscopy. “I think universities need to play a big role in recruiting high school kids, so I like this opportunity.”

Alex Ruyack from Brewster, New York, a student in electrical and computer engineering, said that he got involved in outreach while in high school, conducting weekly science experiments for elementary schoolchildren.

“I’ve been involved with the Sciencenter, I’ve worked with the Physics Bus and have done a lot of outreach through CNF, too,” he said. “It’s something I’ve always done and always enjoyed, and I don’t plan to stop doing it.”

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