Posted: November 29, 2008

New nanotechnology educational resource offers teachers ready-to-use modules

(Nanowerk News) AccessNano is a unique, cutting-edge nanotechnology educational resource designed to introduce accessible and innovative science and technology into Australian secondary school classrooms. AccessNano aims to provide teachers with a fresh new approach to teaching science in their school, as well as stimulating new ideas and opening pathways for careers in nanotechnology for students.
AccessNano is an Australian government initiative funded through the Australian Office of Nanotechnology, under the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research in working with the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.
AccessNano provides teachers with 13 ready-to-use, versatile, web-based teaching modules, featuring PowerPoint presentations, experiments, activities, animations and links to interactive websites. Topics covered fit into current Australian curricula requirements, and include teaching units for Years 7-11.
The 13 modules are:
The Space Elevator
This module is aimed at Year 7 students. It can be used in a general classroom or in a science club or gifted program where students are researching innovative technologies. The module is built around an assignment where students research the use of carbon nanotubes to build the space elevator, and then perform a science show based upon their findings.
Shape Memory Alloy
This module is designed for year 7–8 students and can be taught alone or in conjunction with the Properties module as part of a semester long nanotechnology unit. It is a good fit with the curriculum, covering topics such as the periodic table and the properties of metals. Students will also be introduced to a class of materials called shape memory alloys and will learn about the characteristics of these materials and their applications using Nitinol as an example.
Scale and Measurement
This module is aimed at a middle science level, however, aspects of the module could be used at a year 7–8 level. In the module student will learn about scientific notation and the metric system, putting the size of things at the nanoscale into perspective. They will then learn about the methods used to visualise things at the nanoscale, including microscopy and light diffraction.
This module is aimed at year 9–10 students and can be used as a broad introduction to nanotechnology. In it, the bulk properties (classical effects) of materials are compared with the properties at the nanoscale (quantum effects). This comparison highlights the way in which materials acquire new, improved and/or different properties at the nanoscale and how these new properties are leading to the creation of new products and applications.
Performance Materials
Nanotechnology has the capacity to revolutionise the design and characteristics of performance materials, and has already been incorporated into numerous textiles and polymers on the market. This module is presented in the form of 2 streams: Carbon Nanotubes and Textiles, and can be implemented alongside any Chemistry unit at the year 9 and 10 levels. Overall, it contains information about carbon chemistry, nanotechnology, polymers and textiles.
Health & Medicine
Nanotechnology is having a large impact in the health and medicine arena. This module is aimed at the Year 9–10 level, and is provided in the form of 2 streams—Drug Delivery and Nanogold.
The Drug Delivery stream focuses on the use of nanotechnology-enabled transdermal delivery of vaccines. It teaches students about vaccination, and is by necessity supported by some basic biology of the skin.
The Nanogold stream investigates the use of gold nanoparticles to improve human health. Most content is dedicated to the theory behind developing a rapid, nanogold-based diagnostic test for meningococcal disease, although the use of nanogold in medical treatments is also discussed.
This module is aimed at a middle school level. In this module students learn about the strange properties of glass; the fact that it is neither a solid nor a liquid. It then examines the way in which nanotechnology can be used to change and improve on something as simple as normal glass, in so many ways.
Personal Care Products
This module can be included as part of the nanotechnology elective unit in middle school science or can be taught in isolation as an introduction to Consumer Science, in particular to give student an awareness for making decisions about nano products in the market place. The focus is on personal care products but could easily be extended to cover other consumer products such as sporting equipment, food, electronic goods, clothing etc.
Social Issues
The Social Issues module consists of two streams; the Magazine stream aimed at a middle school level, and the Utility Fog stream, appropriate for all ages. The module investigates the social issues and implications that arise from Nanotechnology, with the Magazine stream concerned with the implications nanotechnology may have upon society in the future, and the Utility fog stream dealing with the social and ethical implications of nanotechnology.
This module can be implemented alongside any senior chemistry unit at the year 11 and 12 level or can be simplified and introduced in year 10 as a great lead into senior chemistry, biology and physics. Chemistry is a key science that explains the processes when substances interact. The study of the element gold has been chosen to make students aware of how knowledge of simple chemistry principles and skills can be transformed into new technologies applied to cutting edge medical research. Gold is also a very good example to illustrate how bulk properties change at the nanoscale.
Source: AccessNano
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