Nano Activities

Exploring Tools 1

When working and learning at the nano- level, we need the right tools. Here, we’re using blocks to build a structure and usually our hands and fingers are just the right size to use as tools. This activity adds a hindrance to show what it’s like on the nano level without the right tools or equipment.

You will need: 

  • Blocks (like LEGO or Duplos but other blocks will work as well)
  • A flat open space to build
  • Oven mitts, at least one for each participant
  • A timer
  • Optional: a predetermined structure or shape to build


What you’ll do:

  1. Decide on the structure to build. Drawing a simple picture as a blueprint may be helpful (an added challenge is to be specific about the size and color of the blocks.) If you have LEGO or Duplo, try this from NISE Net. Block House
  2. Participants are timed building the structure using either one or both bare hands.
  3. Dismantle the structure and try again wearing the oven mitts.Blocks


What happened?
Wearing the oven mitts to build should have seemed more difficult and taken longer than building with bare hands. This is how working at the nano-level feels when the tools are too big. We may not be able to see the types of things being researched and created so we need the right tools to work and build with things so small.