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published by the SRI International
supported by the National Science Foundation
This web page provides a multimedia introduction to nanoscience, the interdisciplinary study of special phenomena that occur when objects are of a size between 1 and 100 nanometers.  It features activities for exploring scale and unusual properties at the nanoscale, lessons about the tools of nanotechnology such as the scanning probe microscope, and example applications. Supplementary materials include a classroom play about a not-too-futuristic world where every aspect of daily life is influenced by nanotechnology.  

Teacher resources include a syllabus, lesson plans, a pretest and post-test, extensive background information, Power Point lecture materials, scale diagrams, and student guides/handouts. The materials were developed in a modular fashion to enable use for a short classroom introduction or a two-week experiential learning project. NanoSense is NSF-funded project to aimed at promoting the teaching of nanoscale science at the high school level.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
General Physics
- Equipment
= Electronic Equipment
- Measurement/Units
= Scaling
- Properties of Matter
Modern Physics
- Nanoscience
Other Sciences
- Chemistry
- High School
- Instructional Material
= Activity
= Instructor Guide/Manual
= Lecture/Presentation
= Lesson/Lesson Plan
= Student Guide
= Unit of Instruction
- Assessment Material
Intended Users Formats Ratings
- Educators
- Professional/Practitioners
- Learners
- application/pdf
- application/java
- application/ms-powerpoint
- text/html
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Access Rights:
Free access
This material is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license. Additional information is available.
Rights Holder:
SRI International
NSF Number:
SPM microscopy, active learning, atomic interactions, best practice, carbon nanotubes, experiential learning, high school unit, instructional unit, nanotechnology, scientific questioning, scientific reasoning
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created July 20, 2012 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
August 12, 2013 by Lyle Barbato
Last Update
when Cataloged:
July 3, 2008
Other Collections:

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

1. The Nature of Science

1A. The Scientific Worldview
  • 9-12: 1A/H3d. In matters that can be investigated in a scientific way, evidence for the value of a scientific approach is given by the improving ability of scientists to offer reliable explanations and make accurate predictions.
1B. Scientific Inquiry
  • 9-12: 1B/H7. New ideas in science are limited by the context in which they are conceived; are often rejected by the scientific establishment; sometimes spring from unexpected findings; and usually grow slowly, through contributions from many investigators.
1C. The Scientific Enterprise
  • 9-12: 1C/H5b. When applications of research could pose risks to society, scientists' decisions to participate in that research are based on personal as well as professional ethics.
  • 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.

3. The Nature of Technology

3C. Issues in Technology
  • 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
  • 9-12: 4D/H2. The number of protons in the nucleus determines what an atom's electron configuration can be and so defines the element. An atom's electron configuration, particularly the outermost electrons, determines how the atom can interact with other atoms. Atoms form bonds to other atoms by transferring or sharing electrons.
  • 9-12: 4D/H7a. Atoms often join with one another in various combinations in distinct molecules or in repeating three-dimensional crystal patterns.
  • 9-12: 4D/H7b. An enormous variety of biological, chemical, and physical phenomena can be explained by changes in the arrangement and motion of atoms and molecules.
4G. Forces of Nature
  • 9-12: 4G/H2b. At the atomic level, electric forces between electrons and protons in atoms hold molecules together and thus are involved in all chemical reactions.

8. The Designed World

8B. Materials and Manufacturing
  • 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.
  • 9-12: 8B/H5. Objects made up of a small number of atoms may exhibit different properties than macroscopic objects made up of the same kinds of atoms.
  • 9-12: 8B/H6. Groups of atoms and molecules can form structures that can be measured in billionths of a meter. The properties of structures at this scale (known as the nanoscale) and materials composed of such structures, can be very different than the properties at the macroscopic scale because of the increase in the ratio of surface area to volume and changes in the relative strengths of different forces at different scales. Increased knowledge of the properties of materials at the nanoscale provides a basis for the development of new materials and new uses of existing materials.

11. Common Themes

11B. Models
  • 9-12: 11B/H5. The behavior of a physical model cannot ever be expected to represent the full-scale phenomenon with complete accuracy, not even in the limited set of characteristics being studied. The inappropriateness of a model may be related to differences between the model and what is being modeled.
11D. Scale
  • 9-12: 11D/H1. Representing very large or very small numbers in terms of powers of ten makes it easier to perform calculations using those numbers.

12. Habits of Mind

12D. Communication Skills
  • 9-12: 12D/H6. Participate in group discussions on scientific topics by restating or summarizing accurately what others have said, asking for clarification or elaboration, and expressing alternative positions.
  • 9-12: 12D/H7. Use tables, charts, and graphs in making arguments and claims in oral, written, and visual presentations.

Common Core State Reading Standards for Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects 6—12

Key Ideas and Details (6-12)
  • RST.11-12.2 Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; summarize complex concepts, processes, or information presented in a text by paraphrasing them in simpler but still accurate terms.
Craft and Structure (6-12)
  • RST.11-12.4 Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 11—12 texts and topics.
Integration of Knowledge and Ideas (6-12)
  • RST.11-12.9 Synthesize information from a range of sources (e.g., texts, experiments, simulations) into a coherent understanding of a process, phenomenon, or concept, resolving conflicting information when possible.
Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity (6-12)
  • RST.11-12.10 By the end of grade 12, read and comprehend science/technical texts in the grades 11—CCR text complexity band independently and proficiently.

Common Core State Writing Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects 6—12

Research to Build and Present Knowledge (6-12)
  • WHST.11-12.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
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Record Link
AIP Format
(SRI International, Menlo Park, 2007), WWW Document, (
NanoSense: Size Matters - Introduction to Nanoscience, (SRI International, Menlo Park, 2007), <>.
APA Format
NanoSense: Size Matters - Introduction to Nanoscience. (2008, July 3). Retrieved July 16, 2019, from SRI International:
Chicago Format
National Science Foundation. NanoSense: Size Matters - Introduction to Nanoscience. Menlo Park: SRI International, July 3, 2008. (accessed 16 July 2019).
MLA Format
NanoSense: Size Matters - Introduction to Nanoscience. Menlo Park: SRI International, 2007. 3 July 2008. National Science Foundation. 16 July 2019 <>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Title = {NanoSense: Size Matters - Introduction to Nanoscience}, Publisher = {SRI International}, Volume = {2019}, Number = {16 July 2019}, Month = {July 3, 2008}, Year = {2007} }
Refer Export Format

%T NanoSense: Size Matters - Introduction to Nanoscience
%D July 3, 2008
%I SRI International
%C Menlo Park
%O application/pdf

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source
%D July 3, 2008
%T NanoSense: Size Matters - Introduction to Nanoscience
%I SRI International
%V 2019
%N 16 July 2019
%8 July 3, 2008
%9 application/pdf

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NanoSense: Size Matters - Introduction to Nanoscience:

Is Part Of NanoSense

A link to the full collection of NanoSense curricular units.

relation by Caroline Hall
Is Supplemented By Nanoreisen: Adventures Beyond the Decimal

A virtual "nano-journey" into a carbon-based cell, a light-emitting diode, and a laptop microchip. High-resolution photography and scanning electron microscopy are used for images ranging from 1 cm to .0 of a micrometer. Nanoscale images are computer-generated.

relation by Caroline Hall

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