The public, evening portion of the event has been canceled for 2022 due to Covid. There will be a short day event from 9:30-11 am, Monday, March 28, 2022 for invited schools.

About Family Science Night

Join us for a fun evening of hands-on educational activities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Hang out with MSU students, meet MSU scientists and engineers, and take part in dozens of free activities. All ages. 


Volunteers are critical to MSU Family Science night. We welcome MSU faculty, students, and student groups as well as off-campus businesses and organizations.

Volunteers run stations by:

  • using a pre-designed STEM activity from one of our National Science Foundation kits
  • designing your own activity or exhibit

Sign up to volunteer:

Volunteer to Design Your Own ActivityVolunteer to Lead a Pre-designed Activity

Past participants

Montana Nanotechnology Center (MONT)


The Montana Nanotechnology Center (MONT) is a premiere sponsor of MSU’s Family Science Night. The NanoLand Exhibit, created by MONT Professor Wataru Nakagawa, introduces visitors to nanoscience and helps create an understanding of the nanoscale. A NanoLand host asks visitors to imagine that they are nano-sized by demonstrating how they would then relate to other nano-sized objects. For example, if the average person were nano-size, they would be able to crawl through a strand of silk, represented by a child’s play tunnel; a typical virus would be the size of a Skittles candy and a single yeast cell would be comparable to a candy gummy worm.

How small is “nano?” A nanometer is one billionth of a meter, a sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick and a strand of DNA is about 2.5 nanometers in diameter. Nanotechnology involves the ability to see and to control individual atoms and molecules and is a rapidly growing field of study involving all the sciences: chemistry, biology, physics, materials science, and engineering. Nanoscience researchers at MSU’s MONT are working on a diverse range of projects from seeking a cure for Alzheimer’s disease to abating corrosion of structural steel.

MONT is funded by the National Science Foundation and is part of the National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure, which provides open access to nanotech facilities for research and industry.

Bridger High Performance Research Network

BridgerNet exhibitThe Bridger High Performance Research Network exhibit – called Primate Sights and Sounds — featured a thermal imaging camera and audio imaging software through which visitors learned about the collaborative research of MSU engineering professor Ross Snider. Along with partners at the University of California-San Diego, Snider monitors the movements and sounds of a group of marmosets, which are guinea pig-sized monkeys native to Brazil.

The researchers study the vocalizations of the marmosets using recording devices, accelerometers and other sensors in order to catalog their various calls. The researchers’ ultimate goal is to use their new knowledge of audio processing in order to develop better devices for speech- and hearing-impaired people. The collaborators use BridgerNet to seamlessly share hundreds of gigabytes of audio, video and other data, allowing them to collaborate across more than 1,000 miles.

The Bridger High Performance Research Network is a National Science Foundation funded project to extend the MSU research network into seven buildings and labs on campus.

Aerokats and Rovers Education Network

Mini kitesThe NASA-supported Aerokats and Rovers Education Network (AREN) MSU team built miniature kites with participants. AREN is a program supported by NASA Science Mission Directorate Science Education that designs and uses low-cost instrumented systems for in-situ and remotely sensed Earth observations including kite-based "AEROKATS" and remotely controlled aquatic and land-based "ROVERS."

Participants used tissue paper, mylar, silk thread and 20-inch straws to build one of two different miniature kites based on the excellent designs and resources of Glenn Davison. AREN team members assisted with the construction process while sharing an overview of the NASA AREN project and words of encouragement for our country's future scientists and engineers. The miniature kites featured blue and gold materials to celebrate Montana State University's 125th birthday.

This activity, including instructions for recreating it in your own setting, were shared on the national blog of Public Lab, an AREN partner and open community that uses DIY techniques to help citizens investigate environmental concerns.

Family Science night in the News!

Our NanoDays Legacy

This event was started as NanoDays in 2008 as an outreach program of MSU Extended University (now called Academic Technology and Outreach) and Montana NSF EPSCoR. Launched by the National Informal Science Education Network (NISENet), this National Science Foundation-supported effort was designed to help the public better understand nanoscale science and engineering. For more information, visit the National Informal Science Education Network (NISENet). 

Nano Resources for Teachers, Informal Educators, and Outreach Professionals

You can borrow MSU Academic Technology and Outreach's NanoDays kits and explore the science of the small with youth of all ages!

Contact us at for information on how you can:

  • Explore invisibility
  • Find out why a blue morpho butterfly is blue
  • Learn about surface tension with the tiniest teacup you'll ever see
  • Create your own iridescent "thin film" to take home
  • Discuss some of the impacts of this new science on society: How do you feel about a nano-sized tracking device being implanted in your body (or passport?) Can nanotechnology solve our energy crisis? Will nanoparticles contaminate our water supply? Our materials include discussion guides and resources for exploring these intriguing questions.

Plus many other hands-on activities, games and educational resources for classrooms, camps, visiting students and adults.

We also have training materials. Experience in nanoscale science and engineering is not necessary!

We have even more kits and resources than this! Schedule an appointment to come to MSU Academic Technology and Outreach. We will show you all the kits and resources so you can decide what you would like to borrow.