June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
K-12 & Pre-College Engineering
15.240.1 - 15.240.15
BRINGING ENGINEERING IDEAS BASED ON NANO-MATERIALS INTO THE HIGH SCHOOL SCIENCE CLASSROOM: RESEARCH INTO PRACTICE
This paper is based on the experience of two high school science teachers who participated in a research experience for teachers (RET) during the summer of 2009. The common theme of the research for the two teachers was on hydrogels containing nanoparticles. A component of the RET experience was the development of a Legacy Cycle inquiry lesson unit intended to connect engineering research to high school mathematics and science curriculum standards. The first teacher’s research focused on determining the tensile strength of hydrogels, which contained gold nanoparticles. This involved the development and utilization of a prototype device for measuring the tensile strength of such gels. The second teacher’s research focused on the procedure for successfully synthesizing nanorods with a high aspect ratio. Nanorods add strength when added to electrophoresis hydrogels for medical diagnostics. Synthesis of nanorods is important for use in medical diagnostics. During the research project a procedure was carried out to demonstrate how to successfully synthesize nanorods with a high aspect ratio. Scanning Electron microscope analysis produced images that were further analyzed using Adobe Photoshop to determine the aspect ratio of the nanoparticles. This paper will present highlights of the teachers experience during the RET program and the two legacy cycles that were developed as a result of their experience.
The current paper is one of a group of papers that introduces the experience of 9 teachers who participated in a program for research experience for teachers in manufacturing for competitiveness in the United States. The program details are presented in a separate paper1, but a glimpse is provided below. The project participants worked with 5 mentors from chemical engineering, mechanical engineering and industrial engineering. The overall management of the summer research institute was the responsibility of the principal investigator while the follow up activities and assessment of the implementation is the responsibility of the co-principal investigator.
The RET program2 was designed such that the teachers have a significant understanding of the research process. The teachers were asked with the help from their mentors and project directors to formulate a research question based on the mentors’ ongoing research. The teachers designed and carried out the research plan and adapted it, as necessary, as the project progressed. The adaptation of the research plan was especially interesting given the fact that teachers were used to a very structured environment where every aspect of the environment is under control of the teacher. The teachers were also asked to develop at least one learning module for their own high school class based on the legacy cycle model3.
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