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Posted: June 30, 2008
Switzerland pioneering teachers' education in nanotechnology
(Nanowerk News) Nanotechnology is everywhere but in schools. It is therefore necessary to provide teachers with suitable tools and skills for teaching nanotechnology in science classes. The training course for teachers “TEACH NANO” offered by the Innovation Society (St.Gallen) gives practical and easily comprehensible insights into this new technology.
Nanotechnology is the technology of the small and makes use of the special effects that appear when materials are downscaled to the size of nanometers. Today there are already more than 1000 nano-based consumer products on the market: self-cleaning window glasses, soil-resisting textiles and scratch-resistant lacquers are just a few examples. In schools, however, nanotechnology is barely present, even though it would be especially well suited for interdisciplinary, cross-subject classes. Many teachers did not come in contact with the subject during their professional education and there are no school books available on this subject. In the meantime, media have started to increasingly report on the opportunities and potential risks of nanotechnologies.
In order to close this gap in science education, the Innovation Society Ltd. (St.Gallen) together with teacher training authorities in Switzerland, has developed a practice oriented training course for teachers in high schools and vocational education institutions. Besides providing a wealth of background information the course also gives helpful suggestions on how to set up engaging lessons and include new media and internet resources. Participating teachers will be made familiar with scientific fundamentals and experiments as well as the current state of research into risks and opportunities for health, environment, economy and society. The practical part comprises the demonstration of concrete experiments for teachers and pupils.
The course has already been successfully organized in May 2008 in the Swiss canton (state) of St.Gallen and courses in further cantons (Zurich and Grisons already signed up) are due to follow. First feedbacks from teachers have been consistently positive. One participant stated: „The ‘nano’ field has interested me for some time. My expectations were to learn more about products, their manufacturing and opportunities/risks. My expectations have been fully met.“ Interested schools and teacher training authorities in Switzerland and abroad can adopt the course for their curricula and will get a tailor-made program, comprising an optional field trip to a regional company or research institution focused on nanotechnology in order to get an insight into current industrial practice.
The course description is available under: www.innovationsgesellschaft.ch/index.php?page=147