About 300 students from elementary, middle and high schools across the Capital Region got to learn about solar energy, nanotechnology and “bunny suits” Tuesday at the University at Albany’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering NanoCareer Day.
“Bunny suits” is the nickname given to the outfits scientists must wear to avoid bringing any contamination into the clean rooms, where nanotechnology research is conducted.
In addition to touring the clean rooms, students got to hear presentations from CNSE faculty on the science of nanotechnology, see demonstrations explaining the role of nanoscale research and development and learn about careers in the science.
College spokesman Steven Janack said students enjoy learning about nanotechnology — involving materials measuring far less than the width of a human hair — because it is so much a part of their world.
“They’re all using iPods and cellphones and digital cameras and laptops. It’s nanotechnology that’s making all of those things possible,” he said.
Most of the students were from middle school or high school. The one elementary school that participated was Division Street Elementary School in Saratoga Springs. Other participating school districts included Albany, Glens Falls, Schenectady and Oppenheim-Ephratah and districts from Herkimer, Rensselaer County and Otsego County.
Schools contact the NanoCollege to get on a waiting list to come and take a tour. Janack has noticed that groups are coming from beyond the immediate Capital Region, which is a sign that the area’s technology reputation is growing.
The NanoCollege holds four NanoCareer Days each year — two in the fall and two in the spring. About 250 schools and 7,500 students have visited the college since the program was launched in 2006.
“NanoCareer Day supports Gov. Cuomo’s leadership in building a world-class nanotech industry in New York state. Developing a top-notch workforce is a critical component in ensuring the Capital Region and New York state can compete in a global economy,” Janack said.