Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Thinking Small

When the Virginia Standards of Learning for Science were revised in 2010, nanotechnology was added to the content of the 3rd and 5th grade study of matter. Here's how it reads.
Nanotechnology is the study of materials at the molecular (atomic) scale. Items at this scale are so small they are no longer visible with the naked eye. Nanotechnology has shown that the behavior and properties of some substances at the nanoscale (a nanometer is one-billionth of a meter) contradict how they behave and what their properties are at the visible scale.
In 5th grade they include the above information and add the following sentence.
Many products on the market today are already benefiting from nanotechnology such as sunscreens, scratch-resistant coatings, and medical procedures.
Since elementary school students are just grappling with our number system and how it's constructed, understanding the math of the nanoscale (negative exponents!) can be difficult. One of the best ways to approach this topic is to make comparisons that kids will understand. This UC-SD-TV program is one of my favorite resources on nanoscience.

If you want to play around a bit with the nanoscale, check out this McREL site.

Finally, if you are looking for some teaching resources, check out my Pinterest board on nanotechnology.

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