One of the great strengths of nanoscience can also pose tough choices for teachers. Nanotechnology does not fall under just one discipline such as physics, biology, chemistry, materials science, or engineering, but all these and others. In science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education circles, there is an ongoing debate about nanotechnology education: Should it have its own individual curriculum? Or should nanotechnology be woven into the many scientific—and social—disciplines comprising its many elements?
This section won’t settle that argument, but it does provide a wide variety of resources to help teachers who are making nanotechnology a part of their lesson plans.
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Center for Nanotechnology Education and Utilization (CNEU) at Penn State’s College of Engineering offers resources such as webcasts, introduction-to-nanotechnology video modules, workshops for educators, and resources related to careers in nanotechnology from both the educator’s and industry’s points of view. Nanotech Camps are held year-round at CNEU. One-day camps for students in 7th grade and higher introduce nanotechnology and related careers. Three-day summer camps for high school students across Pennsylvania give them an orientation to basic nanofabrication processes, applications, and careers, and the opportunity to observe nanofabrication processes in the Penn State Nanofabrication Facility.
Exploring the Nanoworld is a University of Wisconsin (UW) website featuring movies, slide shows, kits, references (including the Lego® nanobricks booklet), and teaching modules for K–12 teachers.
Materials World Modules offers for purchase a series of interdisciplinary teaching modules assembled by Northwestern University on nanoscience and materials topics—including composites, ceramics, concrete, biosensors, biodegradable materials, smart sensors, polymers, food packaging, and sports materials—and supports a virtual community of module users. The modules are designed for use in middle and high school science, technology, and math classes; they have been used by more than 9,000 students in schools nationwide.
Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL) NanoTeach project is an NSF-funded program that combines an instructional design framework with nanoscale science content using multiple delivery methods for high school science teachers. McREL NanoLeap is specifically geared towards teaching nanoscience and technology.
NanoKids™, a project of Rice University's Tour Group, is an educational outreach program that provides teachers with conceptual tools to teach nanoscale science and emerging molecular technology to students with diverse learning styles and interests. The website has videos and an accompanying workbook for students, as well as sample tests and other teacher resources.
Nanooze is an online and print science magazine created by Cornell University as part of the education programs of the NNIN. Nanooze has special topic print editions which teachers may download or order from NNIN.
Nanoscale Science Education research by North Carolina State University's College of Education explores scale, haptics (learning through touch), and molecular spintronics, and provides educators with nanotechnology education resources, articles of interest, and research on learning nanoscience.
National Center for Learning and Teaching (NCLT) is dedicated to developing and offering nanostechnology-specific instructional modules, professional development, and a network of educator communities related to learning and teaching about the nanoscale. The website offers multiple resources across educational levels. NanoEd Resource Portal-- a part of NCLT-- is a rich resource for nanotechnology curriculum development and lesson plans, as well as video simulations and links for games, research, events, and news related to nanotechnology education.
The National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network Education Portal has useful guidelines for approaching how to integrate nanotechnology into your curriculum. The portal has a searchable database of approximately 60 K-12 lessons primarily written by teachers for teachers.
National Science Digital Library is an extensive collection of online resources for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. Using the search feature provides myriad links related to nanoscience and nanotechnology.
Omni Nano is a non-profit organziation for high school students and teachers that provides free excerpts from a Nanotechnology textbook, blog discussions related to nanotech education, and free nanotechnology workshops available to high school classrooms, both in person and online.
Talking Nano is a set of six professionally produced educational DVDs on nanotechnology that can provide classroom enrichment for students and/or professional development for teachers. It is produced by the Nanoscale Informal Science and Engineering Network (NISE Net) and Boston’s Museum of Science, both of which have additional educator resources. Several excerpts of "The Amazing Nano Brothers Juggling Show” from the Talking Nano bonus disk are available onYouTube.
TryNano.org is a website specifically geared for high school students and teachers who want to learn about nanotechnology.
Professional Development Programs for Teachers
McREL, an NSF-funded program (also listed above), has a series of professional development programs for educators.
Nanotechnology and Career Knowledge (NACK) Center at Penn State is closely aligned with CNEU. NACK has designed community-college-level degree programs that support nanotechnology careers in industry and offers professional development programs for educators.