Editor selections by Topic and Unit

The Physics Front is a free service provided by the AAPT in partnership with the NSF/NSDL.

Detail Page

Item Picture

Please be aware that our automated link checking software has listed this item as potentially having a problem.

published by the University of Wisconsin MRSEC
supported by 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, Teacher's Guide, and background information on nanocomposites.

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.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Education Foundations
- Societal Issues
General Physics
- Properties of Matter
Modern Physics
- Nanoscience
Other Sciences
- Engineering
- Environmental Science
- Middle School
- High School
- Instructional Material
= Instructor Guide/Manual
= Lesson/Lesson Plan
= Project
= Student Guide
- Assessment Material
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physical Science
- Physics First
- Conceptual Physics
- Algebra-based Physics
- Lesson Plan
- Activity
- Assessment
- New teachers
  • Currently 0.0/5

Want to rate this material?
Login here!

Safety Warnings
Eye Protection Must be Worn   Safety Gloves Must be worn   Hot Liquids  

Intended Users:
Access Rights:
Free access
Most resources are available for free. Books, CD-ROMs, and other education materials are offered for sale.
© 2004 The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System
Project-Based Learning, context-rich learning, experimentation, materials, materials science, nano-materials, nanostructure, nanotechnology, nanoworld, project, scientific method, smart materials, societal implications
Record Creator:
April 15, 2004 by Kara Chiodo
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created July 14, 2011 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
August 14, 2016 by Lyle Barbato
Last Update
when Cataloged:
April 24, 2009

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

1. The Nature of Science

1C. The Scientific Enterprise
  • 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.
ComPADRE is beta testing Citation Styles!

Record Link
AIP Format
(University of Wisconsin MRSEC, Madison, 2004), WWW Document, (http://education.mrsec.wisc.edu/IPSE/educators/activities/socImp2.html).
Exploring the Nanoworld: Nanoville Activity (University of Wisconsin MRSEC, Madison, 2004), <http://education.mrsec.wisc.edu/IPSE/educators/activities/socImp2.html>.
APA Format
Exploring the Nanoworld: Nanoville Activity. (2009, April 24). Retrieved May 23, 2024, from University of Wisconsin MRSEC: http://education.mrsec.wisc.edu/IPSE/educators/activities/socImp2.html
Chicago Format
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 23 May 2024).
MLA Format
Exploring the Nanoworld: Nanoville Activity. Madison: University of Wisconsin MRSEC, 2004. 24 Apr. 2009. National Science Foundation. 23 May 2024 <http://education.mrsec.wisc.edu/IPSE/educators/activities/socImp2.html>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Title = {Exploring the Nanoworld: Nanoville Activity}, Publisher = {University of Wisconsin MRSEC}, Volume = {2024}, Number = {23 May 2024}, Month = {April 24, 2009}, Year = {2004} }
Refer Export Format

%T Exploring the Nanoworld: Nanoville Activity %D April 24, 2009 %I University of Wisconsin MRSEC %C Madison %U http://education.mrsec.wisc.edu/IPSE/educators/activities/socImp2.html %O text/html

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source %D April 24, 2009 %T Exploring the Nanoworld: Nanoville Activity %I University of Wisconsin MRSEC %V 2024 %N 23 May 2024 %8 April 24, 2009 %9 text/html %U http://education.mrsec.wisc.edu/IPSE/educators/activities/socImp2.html

Disclaimer: ComPADRE offers citation styles as a guide only. We cannot offer interpretations about citations as this is an automated procedure. Please refer to the style manuals in the Citation Source Information area for clarifications.

Citation Source Information

The AIP Style presented is based on information from the AIP Style Manual.

The APA Style presented is based on information from APA Style.org: Electronic References.

The Chicago Style presented is based on information from Examples of Chicago-Style Documentation.

The MLA Style presented is based on information from the MLA FAQ.

Save to my folders



Similar Materials

Featured By

Physics Front
Mar 30 - May 30, 2012