Nanoscience & nanotechnology concepts for high school students: The scanning probe microscope

Emma Tevaarwerk, Marcel Grdinic, Nathan Unterman, Robert P. H. Chang, Venkat Chandrasekhar

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


While nanoscience and nanotechnology are not typically thought of as topics for the high school classroom, introducing such cutting-edge research provides a means to motivate student interest in science and engineering. The interdisciplinary nature of nanoscience & engineering allows for a wide range of topics including physics, chemistry, biology and mathematics to be taught within the exciting context of cutting-edge research. As part of the National Center for Learning and Teaching (NCLT) in Nanoscale Science and Engineering, Northwestern University is developing and testing concepts in nanoscience and nanotechnology. The nano-concept material (NCM) is based on a series of hands-on activities. The NCM are developed in close collaboration with high school teachers and are field-tested for feasibility. Learning theory is incorporated into the development of the materials with the assistance of education specialists. One set of nano-concept materials is being developed around a key measurement technique in nanoscience, scanning probe microscopy. Scanning probe microscopy is an important measurement technique for nanoscience and engineering, and provides a platform from which to teach basic science concepts such as measurements and forces. We will discuss the "hands-on" activities developed to teach concepts in scanning probe microscopy, as well as an assessment on how the materials fit into high school and middle school science curricula. Initial findings from a prototype design project show that the design project was successful in engaging student interest, and that the macroscopic models and activities were helpful in facilitating student understanding of how a scanning probe microscope works. All of the students were able to successfully build a working atomic force microscope and acquire an image.

Original languageEnglish
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2006
Event113th Annual ASEE Conference and Exposition, 2006 - Chicago, IL, United States
Duration: Jun 18 2006Jun 21 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)

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