Engaging Students with Nanotech
My colleague Sean Cavanagh's story about nanotechnology is a fascinating read and a great example of the way that teaching cutting-edge technology can capture students' interest.
Nanotechnology—or the study of materials or particles at the molecular or atomic level—is a field of research that's rapidly expanding. It is being used to figure out how to make materials stronger, more stain-resistant, and also how to make computer chips more intricate and sophisticated. It's normally taught at the university level, but students in "Tech Valley," near Albany, N.Y., are getting lessons in the newly emerging field, as well.
Part of the reason the Ballston Spa High School has been able to move forward with the curriculum is because of the support it has received from its superintendent, which is a key factor I hear lots of tech folks talk about when they're trying to get something new off the ground. The superintendent's support is essential.
The nanotechnology class described in the article is also a good example of how technology ties into many other subjects. For example, students learning about nanotechnology spend a good chunk of their time talking about the ethical implications of it. They also discuss dubious claims about nanotechnology made by marketers of products, which teaches media literacy and criticism.
Check out the story for lots of other interesting tidbits.