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What are nanomaterials?


Learn about the nanomaterials and their applications through a fun, interactive game.


Working in up to eight small teams (depending on how many people you have), you will try to uncover the mystery of the clues by guessing which nanoparticle is being described.


The idea of the NanoNtrigue! game is to use the clues given by the other teams to uncover the mystery of their nanoparticle. What is it? What is it used for? Be ready to talk about some of the things you've learned so far in NanoExperiences to make sense of the clues!
  • There are eight nanoparticles in the game. Use them all, or just choose a few depending on how many teams you have: 
  • gold nanoparticles
  • thin film
  • virus
  • nanoshells
  • silver nanoparticles
  • quantum dots
  • carbon nanoparticles
  • iron nanoparticles
  • Playing the game
    • Get a set of NanoNtrigue! Information Sheets and NanoNtrigue! Data Sheets. With your team, learn everything you can about the nanoparticles. Split them up among the team to distribute the work! Using the Data Sheets, each member of the team records what s/he thinks is important about his or her particle[s]. Depending upon how many of you there are, you may need to take 2 or 3 particles. Make sure you have enough Data Sheets.
    • When everyone is done, talk about what you all learned. Did you all collect the same kinds of data? What did you see in your Information Sheets that you think would make good clues for that particle? Add anything to the Data Sheets you feel is important to remember.
    • Now, turn in your Information Sheets and get an envelope full of clues. Keep the Data Sheets on which you recorded the information you thought was important.
    • Together with your team, discuss your clues. Which ones do you think will be dead giveaways? Which ones will be less obvious? Arrange them in order from easiest to hardest. Don't talk too loud or others will hear you!
    • Choose four clues you want to reveal to the other teams. Put them in the order you would like to reveal them. Turn them face down, in order, on your table.
    • Place the other four clues back in your envelope.
    • Get one NanoNtrigue! Score Card for your team. Teams will now rotate around the room, stopping at each team's clue to make a guess on your Score Card. At the end of one rotation, you should be back at your team's table. Turn over the next clue.
    • Repeat this cycle 3 more times until all clues have been revealed.
    • Check your scores against the Master Clue list. Did your team win?

Why this works

Games are a fun way to learn! Together as a team, you had to analyze, problem solve, categorize, and prioritize complex information. Essential skills for success in the nanotech -- or any -- industry! You also had to remember some of the things that you learned earlier in NanoExperiences in order to uncover the mysteries of NanoNtrigue! That's good stuff!

Wrap Up

Have a whole group discussion about why your team eliminated some of the clues. What were your reasons for choosing the four clues you kept? Why were the others eliminated? How did you decide on the order of the clues? Did you feel like some information from the Data Cards should have been included as clues rather than the ones that were used? Record any ideas for new clues in the Comments section below.


  • 8 envelopes filled with nanoparticle clues for the NanoNtrigue! game
  • NanoNtrigue! Data sheets
  • NanoNtrigue! Information sheets
  • NanoNtrigue! Score Cards
  • Colloidal gold (optional)
  • Colloidal silver (optional)
  • Model of a nanoshell (optional)
  • Model of a buckyball (optional)
  • Quantum dots (optional)
  • small LEDs of different colors (optional)
  • Stuffed E-Coli virus (not to scale - but it might be fun to do the math!) (optional)
  • Ferrofluid Preform Display Cell (iron nanoparticles in suspension) (optional)
  • Magnet (optional)


Based on

  • Energy Enigma by The NEED Project and the Nano-N-Trigue game adapted by Leslie Trexler.
Sharon Unkart,
Apr 24, 2013, 9:22 AM
mary c,
Mar 4, 2014, 9:58 AM
Sharon Unkart,
Apr 24, 2013, 9:22 AM
Sandra Weeks,
Apr 22, 2013, 12:59 PM
mary c,
Feb 28, 2014, 2:28 PM