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Sign-up now for the VINSE High School Field Trip Program

Posted by on Thursday, September 7, 2023 in Events, News.


Vanderbilt Institute for Nanoscale Science and Engineering (VINSE) is pleased to be able to invite groups of high school students, group size 20 or smaller, to visit our facilities, perform an experiment, and learn about nanotechnology during a day visit. Our field trip program has hosted over 3,300 high school students from 68 middle Tennessee high schools representing 26 counties. This curriculum is designed for all high school students’ grades 9-12. Schools have the option to send students from one grade or select several from each grade.

Sign-up to attend 1 of 4 hands-on activities:

Blackberry Solar Cell. How can you squeeze electricity from a blackberry?  More than 3,000 middle TN high school students can answer this question from personal experience.  They have made solar cells out of blackberry juice and measured the electrical power they produced. The students also examine the material that they used to make the solar cells with one of VINSE’s scanning electron microscopes. These instruments can magnify objects by as much as 500,000 times, enough to allow the students to see nanoscale features 50,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair and learn how these tiny features can affect how much sunlight a solar cell can capture. Maximum students: 20

Cleanroom Solar Cell.  How does a solar cell work and how can you make one?  High school students go inside the VINSE cleanroom, home of the cleanest air in middle Tennessee, and find out with hands-on activities!  The students create a full silicon solar cell, measure the electricity generated by shining light on the solar cell, and use light-based stenciling to pattern metal electrodes like those used on solar cells.  Students also examine how well different types of solar cells capture light and change that light to electricity. Maximum students: 16

Cleanroom Microfluidics.  How can you mimic organ behavior while leaving your organs in your body or detect COVID in minutes?  High school students go inside the VINSE cleanroom, home of the cleanest air in middle Tennessee, and find out with hands-on activities!  The students stencil with light to pattern a mold for hair-thin pipes, put together flexible pipes and wells to make microfluidic devices, and examine how liquid in the devices flows using the same tools and techniques as industry and academic researchers.  Students also design, make, and test their own custom paper microfluidic devices and learn how differences in their designs alter the behavior of the fluid. Maximum students: 16

Forensics/Analytical Laboratory. How are the optical properties of materials used in answering forensic and fundamental scientific questions?  Using a form of non-destructive testing, spectroscopy, students can discover the unique properties of naturally occurring and synthetic materials, in part through direct measurement of the dramatic and varied optical properties. The awesome and dramatic color change of materials will be used as an introduction to the understanding of natural processes in everyday objects. By the conclusion of the program, students will use the most advanced analytical instrumentation available to modern science to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges and opportunities present in today’s society. Maximum students: 16

This program fills up quickly! If your school is interested in this opportunity, reach out to VINSE at for more information.