Sunday, March 30, 2008

Outreach can be fun.

Yesterday I did an "Ask a scientist" event at the Children's Museum of Houston, as part of their Nano Days events. It was fun. I started with the obligatory "sizes of things" slide, and then talked a little about scientists (who want to figure out how things work) and engineers (who want to take what we've learned and make new, useful things). To emphasize that nanoscale tech was all around them, I showed the guts of a Nintendo Wii, including the cell processor and the little accelerometer chip that the Wii uses to figure out what you're doing with the controller. I had made a demo accelerometer prop out of PVC pipe and springs that was a big hit. The most fun part was when I invited the kids up to help me take apart a Wii-mote, while I explained that sometimes breaking things down is the best way to figure out how things work. The high point: an eight-year-old whispering "Awwwwsome!" to his friend after playing with the guts of the Wii-mote. (Note: opening up any Nintendo gear requires this kind of screwdriver....)


Unknown said...

Doug, I believe the cell processor is found only in Sony's PS3 (and maybe a few other Sony products). You have any pictures of the event?

Douglas Natelson said...

Hey - I mis-posted. I actually have pics of the correct processor (the IBM "Broadway" chip) in my ppt slides.