STEM Teacher Tool: Free Videos on ‘Super Small Science’

By Liana Loewus — January 28, 2016 1 min read

NBC Learn and the National Science Foundation have released a series of short videos about nanotechnology, or the study of objects that are measured in billionths of meters.

To put into perspective just how small these things are, a sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick. As my colleague Sean Cavanagh has

written, “nanotechnology is used to make materials stronger, clothing more stain-resistant, and computer chips more sophisticated. Scientists see potential for nanotech to produce environmental and energy benefits, such as in the development of batteries that are more efficient and solar panels that yield more power.”

Some scientists and educators have been trying to get nanoscience, typically a university-level subject, into K-12 schools for some time now. Although the Next Generation Science Standards, which a third of states and the District of Columbia have adopted so far, don’t explicitly require the study of nanoscience, some say the topic can engage students and help them see how science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields are linked.

The half dozen “Nanotechnology: Super Small Science” videos are about five minutes each and available for free on the NBC Learn and NSF websites. One video features researchers discussing the nanotechnology used in smartphones. Another discusses nanoscale coatings and layers that can make surfaces water- and dirt-resistant and protect steel bridges.

Image: Students in Richmond, Va., build a model that allows them to compare the effectiveness of nano particle sunscreens to regular sunscreens in a workshop on nanoscience. —MathScience Innovation Center

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.