Exploring the Nanoworld with LEGO Bricks: Structures and Their Construction at the Nanoscale

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In this activity (pages 42-49), learners discover the methods and challenges of building nanoscale structures with macroscale equipment. This activity presents a sampling of the tools, materials, and devices that are helping scientists and engineers to image and manipulate matter at the nanoscale. Learners are introduced to topics such as photolithography, self-assembly, nanowires, ferrofluids, and photonics crystals.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 14 - adult

Resource Types:
Experiment/Lab Activity, Model


Materials List (per group of students)

  • LEGO blocks of different sizes and colors


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Metallurgy and Materials Engineering
      • Nanotechnology
  • Physical Sciences
    • Electricity and Magnetism
      • Electromagnetic Fields
    • Vibration and Waves
      • Light and Optics
    • Light and Optics
      • Electromagnetic Spectrum
    • States of Matter
      • Solids
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Atomic Structure

Informal Categories

  • Model Building


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



Funding Sources:

  • National Science Foundation
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • LEGO Dacta