Question Sheet: The Incredible Shrunken Kids


Before reading:

  1. What’s the smallest thing that you know about?
  2. What area of science do you enjoy the most? Why?

During reading:

  1. What does the prefix “nano” mean? Give two examples of where the prefix is used.
  2. What is the goal of nanotechnology?
  3. How is nanotechnology being used?
  4. Why is nanotechnology important for computers?
  5. Summarize what Tour means when he says, “Most things that people build come together in a ‘top-down’ way.”
  6. What’s the difference between NanoKid and NanoAthlete?
  7. Why did Tour invent NanoKids?

After reading:

  1. Do you think Tour’s video would help you enjoy learning about nanotechnology? Why or why not?
  2. How might nanotechnology help medicine?
  3. What are the advantages and disadvantages for technology when working on such a small scale?
  4. What nanotechnology-related inventions might benefit your school? How?
  5. Give an example of how working “small” can have effects on a much larger scale.


  1. Think of a subject in science that might not be your favorite. Write a script for a video about some aspect of this subject to help make it more interesting.
  2. The name “NanoPutian” comes from the word “Lilliputian,” which refers to miniature residents of a fictional land named Lilliput. These characters appear in the novel Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift. You can find the full text of the first part of Gulliver’s Travels at (Jaffe Bros.). It recounts Gulliver’s adventures in the land of Lilliput. Write a story about the NanoKid characters that is set in Lilliput. What sort of adventures could they have?


  1. With scientists all over the world working on nanotechnology, how do they share information?
  2. Tour explores the idea that nanotechnology is a community. Why do you think he uses that image?


  1. If a nano is a prefix for one-billionth, what is the prefix for one-millionth and one-thousandth? List as many metric prefixes as you can find, putting them in order by decreasing size and expressing them as powers of 10. You can find a list of metric prefixes at of North Carolina at Chapel Hill).
  2. Try the following metric prefix quiz, then make up your own examples. Add the appropriate metric prefix to the supplied word or phrase. For example, 10–2pedes = centipedes.

    • 1012tory = __________
    • 10–6phone = __________
    • 10–12ture = __________
    • 109le = __________
    • 2 x 103mockingbird = __________
    • 10–18mosphere = __________
    • 10–3 tary = __________