CHICAGO — A group of scouts got to take a peek at how scientific discoveries are made at the tiniest scale at Scout Nano Day hosted by Northwestern University.

Michael Kleppinger is the assistant scout master for Boy Scout Troop 309 in Lake Zurich — and a retired engineer.

“I knew nothing about nanotechnology when this started.”

Kleppinger was asked to put together a science program for ages starting at sixth grade over 20 years ago, partnering with helped launch Scout nano Day over 20 years ago, partnering with the International Institute for Nanotechnology at Northwestern University

“We had a great turnout from our troop. The scientists had a lot of fun,” Kleppinger said.

They opened the event up to girl scouts and boy scouts from all over the Chicago area.

Kleppinger said that over the course of 20 years, 1,600 scouts have gone through the program, learning about nanotechnology.

Sarah Petrosko, the associate director of the International Institute for Nanotechnology said the skids are interacting with scientists and doing several hands-on experiments including one where they get to eat chocolate.

While this is the first Nano Day in three years due to the pandemic, Petrosko said the kids are engaged and absorbing it all.

“This is an interesting exposure for these boys and girls to see not how science is studied. How it’s researched and see how the scientists here are working hard to solve serious problems and challenges we’re facing,” Kleppinger said.

From sustainable energy to water quality, the kids are gaining insights into how the tiniest science can help solve some of the biggest problems.

‘With All Scout Nano Day we’re trying to inspire young people …and just show them anyone can be a scientist and they can also think about choosing careers in science and engineering themselves as they get older,” Petrosko said.