What Really Matters: Rensselaer, Junior Museum, and NSF Open the "Molecularium"
Troy, N.Y. — More than 20 elementary-school students from
the Susan Odell Taylor School visited the country's only
'Molecularium' today. Housed in the Lally Digistar II
Planetarium in Troy's Junior Museum, the "Molecularium" is
designed to introduce students in grades K-3 to simple material
science concepts, including the states of matter - solids,
liquids, and gases - and addresses the requirements of the New
York State science curricula.
Rensselaer professors developed the content for the
"Molecularium" as well as the animation for the
seven-minute-long pilot program. The project is a collaboration
of Rensselaer's Nanotechnology Center and The Junior Museum,
with funds from the National Science Foundation's Nanoscale
Science and Engineering Initiative.
"Similar to the way a Planetarium introduces people to the
outer reaches of space, the "Molecularium" is designed to take
kids inward to the smallest forms of matter, including atoms,
molecules, and polymers" says Linda Schadler, a materials
scientist at Rensselaer and one of the directors of the project
with Shekhar Garde, a chemical engineering professor, and Pawel
Keblinski, a materials science professor. "We hope to develop a
20-minute-long program if the pilot is shown to be useful in
helping children understand science concepts as required by New
York State science curricula."
Hosted by the molecule H20, the "Molecularium" features a
guest appearance by Sponge Bob Squarepants (who plays a
'solid'), a 3-D DNA walk-through, and even a family of 'mers,'
which strung together, form a polymer.
"We are pleased to present this exciting program which
encourages young children's curiosity about science and the
world around them," said Tim Allen, executive director of The
The Museum has developed an entire set of hands-on curricular
activities around the "Molecularium." The students learned that
all materials are made up of atoms and molecules, built
molecular models to see how atoms bond to form molecules, and
discussed differences in molecular motion in solids, liquids
and gases. They also made a polymer and took it home.
To attend a show at the "Molecularium," contact the Junior
Museum at: 235-2120, or visit www.juniormuseum.org.
The Junior Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 4
Contact: Megan Galbraith
Phone: (518) 276-6531