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Posted: April 5, 2008
Union nanotechnology program makes teachers nano-smart
(Nanowerk News) Nanoscience came alive in the NYSUT (New York State United Teachers) conference center as 80 Capital District educators gathered for a preview of the new NYSUT-sponsored 'SEMI High Tech U Teacher' program.
Using hands-on experiments appropriate and fun for many grade levels, educators from more than a dozen schools learned more about bringing nanotechnology into their classrooms.
Gathered around work stations with a variety of low- and high-tech gadgets, they challenged each other and discussed how tasks would work as learning moments for students.
"This technology is going to be incorporated into our students' everyday lives," said Jon Getbehead, a biology and chemistry teacher and member of the Troy Teachers Association.
Student interest is high, he said, because the study combines math, science and technology.
"It is critical that our members are afforded professional development opportunities to ensure students have the skills necessary to succeed in the 21st century," said NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira.
Albany schools are also incorporating nanotechnology into their core curriculum. Albany High physics teacher Don Beyer, a 24-year classroom veteran, described a full-year course that combines a half-year of physics and a half-year of nanobiology.
Beyer also has teamed with middle-level math teachers to introduce students to the nanotechnology resources available at the State University of New York at Albany and to build up student interest for high school physics and other sciences.
His colleague, Terese Bennett from Hackett Middle School, has been active in shaping the alliance between educators and industry to construct the new "SEMI High Tech U Teacher" program.
She said, "I'm always looking for new ways to answer my students' question, 'Why do I need to know this?' These sessions always give me new classroom activities to interest them in nanotechnology and other careers, as well. In the future, even the simplest jobs will require more knowledge."
Much of that necessary practical knowledge and experience will be gained at the state's community colleges, including Schenectady County Community College. Ralf Schauer, president of the SCCC Faculty Association, told attendees about the A.A.S. degree in nanoscale materials technology that his college offers.
"You need a skilled work force for manufacturing," Schauer said. "Our hope is to help create a pool of highly qualified employees for these new jobs."
Salahuddin Qazi of United University Professions from the SUNY Institute of Technology in Utica, worked closely with participants and explained applications of his work with carbon nanotubes.
NYSUT's participation in some of these new nanotechnology activities is coordinated through the union's Research and Educational Services department, working closely with NYSUT's Capital District Regional Office.