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30 April 2008 PR 08/55

NanoWhat? Totally tiny technology!

The iPod Nano is a household name, and the Tata Nano — the world’s least expensive production car — is set to become one. But marketing buzzwords aside, what does the term ‘nano’ actually mean?

The 2008 East Midlands Nanotechnology Roadshow arrives in Loughborough on 15 May to explain just that. Featuring academics, research students and experts from universities across the region, including Loughborough, the event will illustrate how this tiny technology, so small that you need powerful microscopes just to see it, has such a huge impact on our everyday lives.

Interactive displays, games and videos will show how nanotechnology is used in sports, clothing, electronics, motoring, engineering, medicines and forensics. Experts will be on hand to answer your questions on how this tiny science affects our lives. So if you want to know how nanotechnology can help your golf balls fly straighter or how geckos stick to the ceiling by their adhesive ‘nano’ feet, here’s your chance to find out.

This free event aims to boost public interest in nanotechnology by applying it to everyday life. Visitors will be able to:

• Catch that molecule — Play on the super-sized bagatelle to catch a molecule.

• Drive a Lotus — Feel the effects at the wheel of a racing car in this fun challenge.

• Spy tiny technology — Use microscopes attached to computer screens to examine tiny ‘nano’ components in detail.

• Meet NanoMan — This contortionist can squeeze himself into tiny spaces, just like the molecules and forces essential to nanoscience.

• Play nano computer games — Basic concepts in nanotechnology can be absorbed and understood while playing these games.

• Win an iPod Nano by entering the nano quiz — Use the magnifying glass provided to read the ‘nano’-sized questions dotted around the exhibition and win an iPod Nano.

• Watch the nano films — Based around the themes nano in nature, nano gadgets, nano on the go, nano lifestyle, the nano hospital and nano in forensics, these short films explain how nanotechnology impacts on our lives and how it will affect us in the future. The facts and the fiction of nanoscience is also explored, looking at the myths that have arisen around the concepts of self-replicating nanobots and ‘grey goo’, and separating reality from science fiction.

Academics from Loughborough University will be on hand at the roadshow to explain how this tiny science can help us to improve developments in healthcare, transport, lifestyle, electronics and manufacturing.

Professor Jon Binner of Loughborough University comments: “We are delighted to be taking part in this roadshow to highlight the leading work we are undertaking in this field. It is an exciting area that is beginning to have a great impact on our lives and we hope to be able to convey this to those that come along.”

The roadshow follows on from last year’s successful ‘Nano in Nottingham’ event, which saw more than 5,000 people visit the event in Market Square over two-and-a-half days.

The event in Loughborough is being organised with the support of Charnwood Borough Council.

Cllr Stephen Hampson, cabinet member for Regeneration, said: “We are very keen for events like this to take place around our local community, to promote more of an interest in the progress of modern technology.

Many people may not be aware of just how important such products are to their daily lives and I would encourage residents of Charnwood to attend this event and satisfy their curiosity.”

The roadshow will be in town from Thursday 15 May to Saturday 17 May on Granby Street Car Park. On Friday it will be visited by local schools. It will be open to the public on Thursday between 10am and 6pm, on Friday between 3pm and 6pm and on Saturday between 10am and 6pm.

The 2008 East Midlands Nanotechnology Roadshow is an excellent example of partnership working. It has been organised by the University of Nottingham with the support of the other seven Universities in the East Midlands – Loughborough, Nottingham Trent, Leicester, De Montfort, Derby and Lincoln.

Funding for the project has been provided by the East Midlands Development Agency (emda). Andrew Morgan, Skills and Communities Director at emda said: “As part of the iFestival and funded through emda’s £6 million STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Maths) initiative, the Nano roadshows will be interactive, inspirational and engaging. It’s terrific that so many partners are working together to help more people in the East Midlands discover how exciting the practical application of science can be.

“We’re delighted to support such an imaginative programme as part of our vision for a flourishing region.”


For all media enquiries contact:

Notes to editors:

1. About emda’s STEM (Science Technology
Engineering and Maths) programme:
Launched in early 2008, emda’s STEM programme marks a £6 million investment over three years in a range of projects to support the development of STEM skills in the East Midlands and increase the level of STEM literacy in the population.  

2. There are seven key elements to emda’s STEM programme. These include:

(a). The East Midlands STEM Partnership - the voice of science, technology, engineering and maths education in the region.  Through its members, the Partnership provides the stimulation, skills and support for STEM professionals of the future.  Coordinated on emda’s behalf by The Marketing Division (TMD), it aims to:

• join up regional STEM activity across schools, further and higher education
• work on the solutions for gaps in provision
• promote opportunities and programmes to the STEM education and business audiences
• present a model of best practice to other regions

(b) The National Space Academy - The first of its kind in the country, the £1.3 million Academy will be set up at the National Space Centre in Leicester with support from partners at the University of Leicester, The University of Nottingham, the Regional Science Learning Centre for the East Midlands, STEMNET and emda.

The focus of the Space Academy will be to:

• deliver space-related STEM education programmes linked to the national science curriculum for learners from secondary school up to college and university;
• link with employers, with particular focus on the space and aerospace sectors in the region;
• provide educational resources and training opportunities for teachers and educators that fit the national STEM agenda and the new STEM curriculum. 

(c) Lab in a Lorry – emda has invested in hiring the Institute of Physics’ (IoP) ‘Lab in a Lorry’ for a three-year period from October 2007 to September 2010.  During this time, the interactive mobile physics laboratory will be visiting schools, universities and public areas across the region to enable young people to explore science through hands-on experiments.  The tour is being managed on emda’s behalf by STEMNET (a national, Government-funded organisation that promotes STEM opportunities) in conjunction with its sub-regional partners, called SETPOINTS (networks hosted at a local level to facilitate links between education and the wider STEM community).

(d) ‘Ignition*’ - Run by Creative Partnerships and Ignite! with emda funding, ‘Ignition*’  is an inspiring programme of activities, competitions and workshops that will engage young people - both in and out of school - from across the region to encourage creative thinking skills in relation to STEM subjects. 

(e).  NanoWhat? – The East Midlands Nanotechnology Roadshow – coordinated by The University of Nottingham, these events aim to take ‘totally tiny technology’ to the people of the East Midlands during the spring and summer months of 2008.  emda has contributed funding to enable these exciting public events – which have been developed in collaboration with the region’s universities and Local Authorities – to take place.

(f) Engineering Development Trust (EDT) STEM Programme – This aims to develop an integrated programme of work related engineering and technology activities available to 13-21 year olds from across the East Midlands. This EDT programme provides challenging opportunities to young people i interested in engineering and gives them an insight into what it is like to work in an engineering or technology business in the region.

(g) East Midlands Science and Technology Awards – emda has allocated more than £600,000 into a bursary scheme to encourage more students to study science-based courses at university. The bursaries are known as EMSTAs (East Midlands Science and Technology Awards) and are available at the region’s nine universities. EMSTA Awards are financial support for selected students from the region, accepted on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) full-time undergraduate degree courses in the East Midlands. One hundred and twenty-five scholarships of £3,000 (£1,000 per year for three years of undergraduate study) are available for 2008 entry. The initiative is a partnership between emda, the East Midlands Universities Association (EMUA) and Aimhigher East Midlands. For more information visit www.aimhigher-eastmidlands.ac.uk/emsta 2.

2.About the iFestival:

The iFestival is region-wide and takes place between 7 March and 18 April 2008. Building on the success of 2007, the iFestival will encompass an inspiring, inclusive programme of events, designed to help foster a culture of innovation in the region with activity targeted at young people, businesses, communities and organisations supporting or involved within an innovation environment. Innovation is regarded as a key driver in creating a dynamic, knowledge focused East Midlands economy and it is identified as a strategic priority in the Regional Economic Strategy.

Improved productivity in an increasingly competitive global market means that businesses and organisations in the East Midlands must put innovation at the heart of their core activities, if they are to flourish and stay ahead of the game. The iFestival is being co-ordinated by East Midlands Development Agency (emda) and East Midlands Innovation – the Regional Science and Industry Council. For further information including the latest programme of events and innovation updates please visit: http://www.eminnovation.org.uk

3. About Loughborough University

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for excellence in teaching and research, strong links with industry and unrivalled sporting achievement.

It is a member of the esteemed 1994 Group – a set of internationally recognised, research intensive universities – and has a reputation for the relevance of its work. Its degree programmes are highly regarded by professional institutions and businesses, and its graduates are consistently targeted by the UK’s top recruiters.

Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports.

In the 2007 National Student Survey, the University was voted fourth in the UK, with 23 out of 29 of Loughborough’s subject areas being ranked in the top ten for overall satisfaction. Loughborough is also ranked in the top fifteen of UK universities in national league tables. It was named winner of the 2006 and 2007 Times Higher award for the UK’s Best Student Experience and winner of the 2007 award for Outstanding Support for Overseas Students. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes – an achievement bettered by no other university.

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