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Posted: April 15, 2008

Reading, writing and nanotechnology

(Nanowerk News) Nanotechnology is a hot topic on college campuses. Now it has arrived at high schools.
Up to 400 students at Albany High will get an introduction to the emerging science in a program designed to encourage minorities to acquire skills needed for the Capital Region's burgeoning nanotechnology economy.
The school district was one of 20 nationwide selected to establish an Academy of Engineering by the National Academy Foundation, a New York City philanthropic organization that funds programs in public high schools.
The foundation will train teachers this summer and send advisers to help the district. They will work for 15 months with a team of 30 school employees and community members to establish its program, which is slated to start in September 2009. Ninth-graders that year will be recruited for the program's first 75 to 100 slots. Another class will be added every year for four years.
Students in the Academy -- a school within a school -- will take a core curriculum of math and science courses along with their regular courses. They will prepare for college and careers by interning at local nanotech businesses.
The initiative will make an underrepresented population of Albany students top candidates for higher paying local jobs, said Jackie Carrese, the district's instructional supervisor for science.
"Science is advancing so fast, we can't keep up with it," she said. "We can't find the workforce to keep up with these jobs."
She added: "Our kids can do it. We have to open the workforce to them."
The district has made an effort to connect its students to the nanotechnology industry, which is cooperating with the University at Albany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering. Two introductory nanoscience courses already offered at Albany High independent of the new program may be a national first for a public school, and an advanced course will start next year.
Concepts in nanoscience -- the study and development of technology on the atomic and molecular level -- are currently taught to Albany sixth-graders. The district recently received $200,000 in grants from the state Department of Education and the Society for Manufacturing Engineers to establish nanotechnology programs for seventh- and eighth-graders.
Superintendent Eva Joseph said the city district's focus on nanotechnology is modeled on other districts around the country that directly link students to local industries. She said it is the district's responsibility to open the doors to future local jobs for its graduates.
"We would be remiss if we weren't connecting ourselves to the opportunities here for our children," Joseph said.
Source: Times Union (Scott Waldman)