The Nanoscience Theme
Nanoscale structure is a theme that has been with ICE since its early days. This was evident in the materials that we developed and made available to teachers in kit form: the Solid-State Model Kit; Optical Transform Kit; DNA Optical Transform Kit; Explorations in Materials Science.
A fruitful collaboration with the MRSEC program (Materials Research Science and Engineering Center on Nanostructured Materials and Interfaces) at UW–Madison helped to make these hands-on materials a reality and enabled them to be in classrooms around the world. The collaboration continues today as evidenced by these recently added materials: Polyhedral Model Kit; Exploring the Nanoworld Kit; Nanoworld Presenter's Guide with "Try This" Packet .
In addition, ICE has served as the Education and Outreach arm for NSEC, the University of Wisconsin–Madison Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center on Templated Synthesis at the Nanoscale since its inception in 2004. NSEC has NSF funding through the National Nanotechnology Initiative with the goal of building infrastructure for nanotechnology research and education across the country. For ICE this has meant even bigger collaborative projects on a smaller scale: the nanoworld. To carry out the mission of the NSEC Education and Outreach program, ICE is developing new scalable teaching and learning programs, methodologies, and communities, all aimed at cultivating a diverse next generation of nanoscientists and engineers. This is exciting stuff: exciting for us and exciting for the K–12 community.
- SCIENCountErs: outreach to Boys and Girls Clubs
- Informal Science Education Exhibits: collaborations for hands-on library kiosks and science museum carbon playground equipment
- Teaching Through Debate and Consensus: this project engages adults in weighing the benefits and risks of nanotechnology in areas such as health care, energy, and defense.
- Today's Science for Tomorrow's Scientists (TSTS): this Web site uses interactive tutorials to introduce middle school and high school students to current chemistry and engineering research.
- Independent Laboratory Access for the Blind (ILAB): a program to develop speech-accessible tools for the blind and visually impaired.
- Stereochemistry Tutorial: these online tutorials provide ways for students to visualize organic molecules, translating them from "flat" molecules to manipulable 3-D structures.
- Online Nanoscience for Teachers: an online course for teachers, who create activities for students and incorporate nanoscience into their classes.
- Nanoconnections Teacher Workshop: A Workshop for Educators: week-long professional development program for Wisconsin teachers.
- RET: Research Experience for Teachers: summer program in which teachers create new ways for students to learn nanoscience.
- REU: Research Experience for Undergraduates: summer programs hosted at the UW-Madison.
Many ICE publications and kits are based on nanoscience or materials science, ranging from introductory demos through those that take a close-up look at molecular structure. All are tried and tested. You will find them listed below with very succinct descriptions and arranged by increasing depth of coverage; the links will take you to a fuller description.
- Nanoworld Presenter's Guide with Try This! Packet. [demo, general audience] Get background information to introduce the nanoworld to a general audience as well as instructions and materials for demonstrating four simple nanotechnology-related experiments.
- Nanoworld Try This! Packets. [hands-on activities, general audience] The same four nanotechnology-related experiments above, but with enough packets and activity booklets to use as a group activity instead of a demonstration.
Go a Bit Further...
- Exploring the Nanoworld Kit. [general audience; group work or individual project] This activity kit enables you to explore how we can "see" atoms, assemble them into novel structures, and customize their properties to develop new technologies. (Available in English or Spanish language versions.)
- Explorations in Materials Science. [high school through college students; group work or lab exercise] This hands-on kit allows students to use science to actively explore and compare properties of metal, plastic, and ceramic materials using samples of each that they have prepared from the molds supplied.
Expand on the Nano Theme
- Memory Metal. [demo or individual project, for all levels] Use the pre-shaped sample of memory metal wire (Nitinol™), a cup of hot or cold water, and the simple instructions in the accompanying booklet to have a vivid example of shape-memory retention in metal alloys; also explains how this works on the nanoscale.
- LED Color Strip Kit. [one kit is a demo; purchase extra color strips to make this a hands-on activity] Use this kit to illustrate the properties of LEDs and semiconductor materials.
- Nanocrystalline Solar Cell Kit. [high school through college students; hands-on activity for groups, individual projects, or lab exercise] Students build their own nanocrystalline solar cell and recreate the process of photosynthesis: they generate electricity from light using natural dyes from berries, experimenting with an important technology for capturing the sun's energy.
Dig More Deeply: Look at Structure
- Polyhedral Model Kit. [high school through college students; demo, group work, or lab exercise] This kit simplifies the visualization of many complex chemical structures that involve polyhedral shapes. It nicely complements the ICE Solid-State Model Kit.
- Solid-State Model Kit. [AP and college students; demo, group work, or lab exercise] Use this classic kit to build and study a structural model of metals, ionic compounds, even superconductors and see how atomic packings determine physical properties—density, cleavage planes, conductivity directions.
- Optical Transform Kit. [AP through college students; one kit is a demo, purchase additional slides for hands-on] Study structure by modelling X-ray diffraction. Here is everything you need (except a laser pointer): directions, diffraction patterns on four 35-mm slides, and overhead transparency masters.
- DNA Optical Transform Kit. [AP through college students; one kit is a demo, purchase additional slides for hands-on] With this kit and a visible laser (not supplied) you can simulate Rosalind Franklin's famous X-ray diffraction experiments that led to the discovery of the DNA double helix.
Many of the ICE staff have a major involvement with the nanoscience theme. These staff people help make our efforts in materials and nanoscience possible.
John Moore, ICE Director, oversees ICE and its interactions with NSEC and MRSEC. He provides ideas and spearheads the development of ideas into workable outcomes.
Outreach has been an integral part of ICE activities since its inception. Because a major aim of ICE is to encourage the incorporation of cutting-edge research into the chemistry curriculum, many efforts are related to materials science and nanoscience. Learn more about our specific nanoscience-related outreach programs:
- SCIENCountErs, for Boys and Girls Clubs: UW–Madison undergrads and grad students design and present hands-on science and engineering activities to middle schoolers
- Summer Chemistry Camps
- Fun with Inventions Camp: nanotechnology is one of the concepts that chem campers will learn about in Fun with Inventions; to be given in summer 2011
- Informal Science Education Exhibits
Education is part of everything ICE does, and nanoscience education is offered for students from middle school to advanced undergraduate and for teachers. Specifically,
- Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) in Integrated Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, and Materials Science programs. There are three related summer programs:
- REU in Nanotechnology
- REU in Chemistry and Chemical and Biological Engineering
- REU in the Chemistry of Materials for Renewable Energy
- Research Experience for Teachers (RET). In this summer program, research projects are carried out during the summer projects by teachers in collaboration with NSEC education and outreach staff, faculty, and grad. students. You can find out more about the teachers and their projects by going to
- Teacher Workshops. In collaboration with NSEC, ICE offers a one-week summer workshop for Wisconsin teachers that focuses on the integration of nanotechnology across the middle and high school curriculum.
- Nanoscience Webquests. With support from NSEC, Jeanne Nye has developed two webquests for middle school students, each with a nanoscience theme.
- Online Nanoscience for Teachers. This online course covers nano-related topics and highlights nanoscience activities for students.
Research efforts at ICE include two projects that are related to nanoscience:
- Teaching Through Debate and Consensus: Angela Jones is developing materials that engage the adult audience in the discussion of the beneficial applications and potential risks of nanotechnology in areas such as health care, energy, and defense.
- From the Bench to the Blackboard: Mary Beth Anzovino's research explores students' opinions of and attitudes toward research, specifically the research of faculty who are affiliated with the NSEC.