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Try Your Hand at Nano

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(Full teacher resource documents are included in the PDF)

Lesson Focus
Lesson focuses on two simple activities younger students can do to gain an appreciation of nanotechnology.  First, students measure their hands in nanometers, second students learn about liquid crystals, their applications and nanotechnology connections and test how the heat of their hands changes the color of the crystals.  They observe what they see, present their findings to the class, and reflect on the experience.

Lesson Synopsis
The "Try Your Hand at Nano" lesson shows younger students how small a nano really is and introduces the concept of how elements may change behavior at smaller sizes -- for example, liquid crystals change their behavior and their color when exposed to different temperatures.  Students work in teams to measure their hands in nanometers, and test a liquid crystal sheet.  Teams review their experiences, present their findings to the class, and reflect on the experience.

Age Levels:   8-11


  • Learn about nanotechnology.
  • Learn about liquid crystals.
  • Learn how engineering can help solve society's challenges.
  • Learn about teamwork and problem solving.

Anticipated Learner Outcomes
As a result of this activity, students should develop an understanding of:

  • nanotechnology
  • liquid crystals
  • electricity
  • teamwork

Lesson Activities
Students explore nanotechnology through a measurement and temperature exercise involving liquid crystals.  They learn about liquid crystal applications, and how size can impact how a material behaves.  Student teams consider their experience, present to the class and reflect on the experience.


  • Teacher Resource Documents (attached)
  • Student Resource Sheet (attached)
  • Student Worksheets (attached)

Alignment to Curriculum Frameworks
Curriculum alignment sheet is included in the 

NISE Network Activities
Related educational programs and activities designed for use in informal education settings. Courtesy of the 
Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network (NISE Net).