Nanotechnology has enormous job growth potential. According to a recent survey by the National Science Foundation, by 2015 the need for technology professionals working in Nanotechnology will increase to 800,000 employers in the US and more than 2 million worldwide. Learn more about the rapidly emerging field of Nanotechnology at VCU in this Science Matters video.
In this classic hands-on activity, learners estimate the length of a molecule by floating a fatty acid (oleic acid) on water. This lab asks learners to record measurements and make calculations related to volume, diameter, area, and height. Learners also convert meters into nanometers. Includes teacher and student worksheets but lacks in depth procedure information. The author suggests educators search the web for more complete lab instructions.
In this activity on page 1 of the PDF, learners compare the relative sizes of biological objects (like DNA and bacteria) that can't be seen by the naked eye. Learners will be surprised to discover the range of sizes in the microscopic world. This activity can be followed up with a second activity, "What's in a microbe?", located on page 3 in the same resource.
Students learn about the biomedical use of nanoparticles in the detection and treatment of cancer, including the use of quantum dots and lasers that heat-activate nanoparticles. They also learn about electrophoresis a laboratory procedure that uses an electric field to move tiny particles through a channel in order to separate them by size. They complete an online virtual mini-lab, with accompanying worksheet, to better understand gel electrophoresis. This prepares them for the associated activity to write draft research proposals to use nanoparticles to protect against, detect or treat skin cancer.
Students are given a general overview of nanotechnology principles and applications, as well as nanomaterials engineering. Beginning with an introductory presentation, they learn about the nano-scale concept and a framework for the length scales involved in nanotechnology. Engineering applications are introduced and discussed. This prepares students to conduct the associated activity in which they relate the nano-length scale to everyday objects. At completion, students are able to identify nanotechnology applications and have a frame of reference for the second lesson of the unit.
Students are introduced to the nano-size length scale as they make measurements and calculate unit conversions. They measure common objects and convert their units to nanometers, giving them a simple reference frame for understanding the very small size of nanometers. Then, they compare provided length data from objects too small to measure, such as a human hair and a flea, giving them a comparative insight to the nanotechnology scale. Using familiar and common objects for comparison helps students understand more complex scientific concepts.