Cutting it Down to Nano Activity

A nanometer is one billionth of a meter (10 -9 meters). That's a really tiny measurement, but it’s hard to imagine just how small it is. A nanometer isn’t just tiny in the way that a grain of sand or a speck of dust is tiny – it’s thousands of times smaller than that.

This activity helps with understanding how unbelievably small the nanoscale is. Participants are invited to try to cut a piece of paper in half until the piece of paper is just a nanometer wide, or until they can't cut it anymore. A visual representation of the exponential decrease in the paper's size is used to reinforce the idea that the nanoscale is much, much smaller than even the smallest visible objects.


Activity Guide

Work Sheet



  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • A strip of paper (dimensions 216mm x 5mm)
  • Pen or pencil
  • Ruler
  • Calculator