Project #91

Funding Agency
  • Informal Science Education Program
  • National Science Foundation
Services provided
  • Disability Counsel
  • Formative Evaluation
  • Front End Research
  • Summative Evaluation
  • Usability Testing
  • Interviews
  • Naturalistic Observation
  • Research Study
  • Survey
  • Time Tracking

Zoom into Nano

Sciencenter’s Zoom into Nano exhibition allows visitors to enter the nanoscale universe. Larger-than-life models and hands-on interactives explore the “working world” of molecular scientists who see and make structures and devices that are too small to see.


Cornell scientists and the exhibit designers at the Sciencenter of Ithaca, NY had questions.


How much do Americans know about nanotechnology?

Edu found that Americans knew very little about nanotechnology. During a national pre-study of nanotechnology awareness, Edu interviewed and surveyed over 1,500 people ages five to seventy-five on the street, in skateboard parks, cell phone stores, museums and malls from New York to Hawai’i.

What can children ages 8 to 12 learn about nanotechnology?

A lot, if you keep it simple and build on what kids already know. Information from classroom activity focus groups and surveys embedded in curriculum helped designers to create vibrant hands-on learning. Iterative formative evaluation showed the project’s positive impact on children’s understanding of sub-visible size and scale.

What impact can a traveling exhibition have on nanotechnology awareness?

Zoom into Nano made quite an impact.  Over a million people visited Zoom into Nano at Disney’s EPCOT®. Nearly a million more enjoyed the traveling exhibition at science museums across North America.

Visitors showed increased interest in and understanding of nanoscale science and wanted to learn more about nanotechnology applications. In exit interviews, visitors had increased knowledge of sub-visible objects, with 70% of visitors using “nano” vocabulary from the exhibition.

The summative study investigated the project’s outcomes and impact, its outreach to underserved audiences, and its accessibility for those with disabilities. The evaluation also considered the exhibition’s safety, durability, and marketability, and examined sustainability beyond NSF funding.