MBI's Take Your Sons and Daughters to Work Day

PNNL, with help from OSU and Home Dialysis Plus (HD+), organized MBI's first "Take Your Sons and Daughters to Work Day" on April 22, 2010. The event featured discussion, hands-on activities, and a tour of the facilities and was attended by 13 youngsters, ages 5 to 14, representing elementary, middle, and high schools from the Corvallis-Albany area.

Following instruction on metal forming, and an explanation about how PNNL and OSU staff are collaborating in the evaluation and development of advanced technologies to enable low-cost manufacturing of miniaturized chemical and energy systems, the group got down to business.

fab-demonstrationsUsing a vintage metal embossing tool, each student made a personal name tag (1). This old-fashioned label maker helped introduce students to the design and fabrication of microchannel devices using stamping presses.

Veronica Nelson, from HD+, showed students how researchers use high tech tools to create a micro-channel device for a kidney dialysis unit to purify blood for patients with a need for dialysis (2).

Other hands-on stations during the tour exposed students to micro and nano technology concepts while explaining the interactions between different process parameters. Stations included demonstrations of:

  • an infrared temperature meter (PNNL Technician Don Higgins, 3)
  • a computational fluid dynamic calculation to model the flow pattern on microchannel devices  (OSU Graduate Student Clayton Hires, 4)
  • how nano-thin films will be used in next generation solar cells (PNNL Senior Research Engineer Dan Palo, 5)
  • a centrifuge to separate oil-in-water and water-in-oil emulsions and
  • biodegradable packing materials

At the end of the event, students left the MBI with safety goggles, disposable plastic vials, embossed metal tag names and a laser imprinted name tag. More importantly, they also got a chance to see how their parents contribute to the development of technologies that will become the high-tech, green jobs of our near future.

The positive buzz from staff about their kid’s experiences is already motivating other researchers at the MBI who are now talking about how to improve next year’s visit. Ideas for next year extend from cryogenic demonstration to titration with visual pH indicators as well as gas analysis through gas chromatography.