Stanford University

Nanoscience and Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology, which makes use of structures 100 nm or smaller (1 nm is a billionth of a meter), is now part of our daily experience. Products ranging from electronics and cosmetics to sports equipment and clothing are increasingly dependent on nanotechnology, harnessing the benefits of novel properties that materials exhibit at the nanoscale. The past years have seen a steady increase in nanoscience research and resulting applications, which has started a rapid growth that will continue over the next decades and change the way we live. The following activities are designed to introduce the students to the properties that materials exhibit at the nanoscale as well as the technologies we use to study and control materials at the nanoscale.

Hands-on nano Activities

Hands-on activities are invaluable in engaging students in exploration and scientific investigation. These activities, originally developed for teachers participating in CPN's Summer Institute for Middle School Teachers, are designed to help students learn about nanotechnology while supporting the California Science Content Standards. For teachers in the San Francisco Bay Area, CPN has also partnered with the non-profit Resource Area for Teachers (RAFT) to make available low-cost materials for some of these activities.

  • How Big Is It? is an activity that introduces the nanoscale using the metric system.
  • Pour It Out, Bubbling Tablets, and Invisible Rays are activities that help students learn how material properties change as the size of the material decreases to the nanoscale.
  • Probing What You Can't See and Magnetic Force Microscopy are activities that help students learn how scientists use powerful tools to visualize, study and control materials at the nanoscale. We also have a Guide to Scanning Probe Microscopy, which provides background information and various characterization tools.

 

Activity California Science Standards

How Big Is It?
Investigating size and scale using the metric system. NEW! Teacher lesson guide and answer key

Grade 2, Standard 4b – express measurements in metric system units
Grade 4, Standard 6b – estimate the length of objects

Pour It Out
Investigating the effects of forces at different scales. NEW! Teacher lesson guide and student worksheet

Grade 5, Standard 1g – properties of water
Grade 8, Standard 2b – net force
Grade 8, Standard 2c – mechanical equilibrium
Grade 8, Standard 2d – identify forces
Grades 9-12, Physics Standard 5e – electrostatic force

Bubbling Tablets
Investigating the effects of surface area on reaction rates. NEW! Teacher lesson guide and student worksheet

Grade 6, Standard 7b – data collection and display
Grade 6, Standard 7c – construct graphs and analyze variables (qualitative)
Grade 7, Standard 7a – data collection and display
Grade 8, Standard 5a – reactants form products
Grade 8, Standard 9a – test hypothesis
Grade 8, Standard 9b – data accuracy and reproducibility
Grade 8, Standard 9c – identify variables and controls
Grade 8, Standard 9f – calculate terms in mathematical formula
Grade 8, Standard 9g – linear vs. nonlinear graphs
Grades 9-12, Chemistry Standard 5 – acids and bases
Grades 9-12, Chemistry Standard 6 – solutions
Grades 9-12, Chemistry Standard 8 – reaction rates
Next Generation Science Standards: MS-PS1 Matter and Its Interactions

Invisible Rays
Investigating the electromagnetic spectrum using ultraviolet beads.

Grade 7, Standard 6a – electromagnetic spectrum
Grade 7, Standard 6e – how color is perceived
Grade 7, Standard 6f – light can be reflected, refracted, transmitted or absorbed by matter

Probing What You Can't See
Investigating magnetic forces and poles using a refrigerator magnet.

Grade 4, Standard 1f – magnetic poles
Grade 4, Standard 6a – differentiate observation from inference
Grade 5, Standard 1e – scanning probe microscopes
Grade 6, Standard 7e – recognize whether evidence is consistent with explanation
Grades 9-12, Physics Standard 5f – magnetic fields
Grades 9-12, Investigation & Experimentation Standard 1b – identify sources of uncertainty
Grades 9-12, Investigation & Experimentation Standard 1j – issues of statistical variability

Magnetic Force Microscopy
Investigating tools that scientists use to probe the nanoscale.

Grade 5, Standard 1e – scanning probe microscopes
Grades 9-12, Physics Standard 5f – magnetic fields

 

Materials

Most materials are available at RAFT either as pre-packaged classroom kits or general purpose materials. If you don't have access to the materials, please let us know and we might be able to figure something out.

Videos

Assembly of the Magnetic Force Microscope Model:

Usage of the Magnetic Force Microscope Model: