the University of Wisconsin MRSEC
the National Science Foundation
In this Project-Based learning module, students investigate the effect of nanotechnology on society, as they play decision-making roles for the town of Nanoville. The driving question is whether to pass a law requiring all new cars to be built with nanocomposites. Students assume the roles of city leaders, lawmakers, environmentalists, business leaders, healthcare workers, local residents, and nanocomposite manufacturers. Their task is to investigate the new material, explore costs/benefits of the technology, and present varying viewpoints about the implications to society. At the end, they make a decision. The module is cost-free and totally turn-key, with multiple student hand-outs, background information on nanocomposites, and a Teacher's Guide.
Editor's Note: This resource would be ideal for integrating materials science, nanotechnology, language arts, engineering, history, and government. It meets a wide range of national standards. Adaptable for grades 6-12.
9-12: 1C/H3a. Progress in science and invention depends heavily on what else is happening in society.
9-12: 1C/H3b. History often involves scientific and technological developments.
9-12: 1C/H6ab. Scientists can bring information, insights, and analytical skills to bear on matters of public concern. Acting in their areas of expertise, scientists can help people understand the likely causes of events and estimate their possible effects.
9-12: 1C/H9. Scientists often cannot bring definitive answers to matters of public debate. There may be little reliable data available, or there may not yet be adequate theories to understand the phenomena involved, or the answer may involve the comparison of values that lie outside of science.
9-12: 1C/H10. Because science is a human activity, what is valued in society influences what is valued in science.
3. The Nature of Technology
3C. Issues in Technology
6-8: 3C/M2. Technology cannot always provide successful solutions to problems or fulfill all human needs.
6-8: 3C/M5. New technologies increase some risks and decrease others. Some of the same technologies that have improved the length and quality of life for many people have also brought new risks.
6-8: 3C/M6. Rarely are technology issues simple and one-sided. Relevant facts alone, even when known and available, usually do not settle matters. That is because contending groups may have different values and priorities. They may stand to gain or lose in different degrees, or may make very different predictions about what the future consequences of the proposed action will be.
6-8: 3C/M9. In all technologies, there are always trade-offs to be made.
9-12: 3C/H3. In deciding on proposals to introduce new technologies or curtail existing ones, some key questions arise concerning possible alternatives, who benefits and who suffers, financial and social costs, possible risks, resources used (human, material, or energy), and waste disposal.
9-12: 3C/H5. Human inventiveness has brought new risks as well as improvements to human existence.
9-12: 3C/H6. The human ability to influence the course of history comes from its capacity for generating knowledge and developing new technologies—and for communicating ideas to others.
4. The Physical Setting
4D. The Structure of Matter
6-8: 4D/M1cd. Atoms may link together in well-defined molecules, or may be packed together in crystal patterns. Different arrangements of atoms into groups compose all substances and determine the characteristic properties of substances.
6-8: 4D/M10. A substance has characteristic properties such as density, a boiling point, and solubility, all of which are independent of the amount of the substance and can be used to identify it.
8. The Designed World
8B. Materials and Manufacturing
6-8: 8B/M2. Manufacturing usually involves a series of steps, such as designing a product, obtaining and preparing raw materials, processing the materials mechanically or chemically, and assembling the product. All steps may occur at a single location or may occur at different locations.
6-8: 8B/M5. Efforts to find replacements for existing materials are driven by an interest in finding materials that are cheaper to obtain or produce or that have more desirable properties.
9-12: 8B/H4. Increased knowledge of the properties of particular molecular structures helps in the design and synthesis of new materials for special purposes.
12. Habits of Mind
12D. Communication Skills
6-8: 12D/M6. Present a brief scientific explanation orally or in writing that includes a claim and the evidence and reasoning that supports the claim.
6-8: 12D/M8. Explain a scientific idea to someone else, checking understanding and responding to questions.
National Science Foundation. Exploring the Nanoworld: Nanoville Activity. Madison: University of Wisconsin MRSEC, April 24, 2009. http://education.mrsec.wisc.edu/IPSE/educators/activities/socImp2.html (accessed 6 December 2016).
%0 Electronic Source %D April 24, 2009 %T Exploring the Nanoworld: Nanoville Activity %I University of Wisconsin MRSEC %V 2016 %N 6 December 2016 %8 April 24, 2009 %9 text/html %U http://education.mrsec.wisc.edu/IPSE/educators/activities/socImp2.html
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