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Designing and Implementing Teacher Professional Development in Nanoscale Science and Engineering: What Makes for a Successful Program

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Integrating Technical Research into Professional Development and K-12 Classrooms

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.441.1 - 22.441.27



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Paper Authors


Nancy Healy Georgia Institute of Technology

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Nancy Healy is the Education and Outreach Coordinator for the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network (NNIN). NNIN is an NSF-funded user support network of 14 universities which also provides nano-education outreach activities and programs. NNIN provides informal and formal activities to a K-gray age span. Her office is located at Georgia Institute of Technology, Nanotechnology Research Center. Prior to joining the NNIN in 2004, she was a program manager at the S.C. Commission on Higher Education. At SCCHE she was active in science and math K-12 issues, teacher education, and teacher professional development. She managed federal and state grant programs focused on teacher professional development. For ten years she served on the Board of Examiners for the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education. She was also at the University of South Carolina for 17 years where she taught undergraduates, had an active research program in paleo-oceanography, and numerous graduate students. She has a B.S. in Zoology from the University of Rhode Island and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Geological Sciences from the University of South Carolina.

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Joyce Palmer Allen National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network

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Joyce Palmer Allen is the Assistant Educational Coordinator for the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network (NNIN) and works at the Nanotechnology Research Center at Georgia Institute of Technology. Her job includes planning, developing and implementing educational outreach programs in nanotechnology and representing the NNIN Education and Outreach office at local and national conferences and meetings. She also helps to oversee programs such as the NNIN Research Experience for Teachers and Research Experience for Undergrads at Georgia Tech.

Before joining NNIN and Georgia Tech, Joyce was a National Board Certified Teacher who taught science in grades 9-12 for thirty years. During her years of teaching she served on many local and state committees and received numerous recognitions.

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Designing and Implementing Teacher Professional Development in Nanoscale Science and Engineering: What makes for a successful program.Nanotechnology is considered by many to be the next “industrial revolution.” The NSFestimates that by 2015 nanoscale science and engineering will be $2.0 trillion industry with theU.S. needing approximately 1 million workers. The Georgia Institute of Technology’s NationalNanotechnology Infrastructure Network (NNIN) site has been developing and implementing aprofessional development program in nanoscale science and engineering education for secondaryscience teachers (grades 7 -12). The NNIN is an integrated geographically-diverse partnership of14 university-based laboratories supported by the National Science Foundation. It is our beliefthat we must provide teachers with the tools and resources needed to educate the future USworkforce in nanotechnology. In addition, we have found that nanoscale concepts excite studentsabout science and engineering. We have been refining our approach over the past several yearsand are now focusing our professional development on the Big Ideas in Nanoscale Science andEngineering (Stevens et. al, 2009). The primary focus of our program has been to help teachersunderstand how nanotechnology can fit into a standards-based science curriculum that they arealready teaching in middle and high school classrooms (physical science, physics, chemistry, andbiology). Additional components of the program include why students should learn aboutnanotechnology (workforce development) and how nanotechnology in an interdisciplinary fieldwhich helps students understand the interconnections between the sciences and engineering. Ourwork with secondary science teachers through our workshops, Research Experience for Teachersprogram, our exhibit booth at NSTA, and our work with the NanoTeach program( has led to insights into what is needed toincorporate nanoscale science and engineering topics into the classroom. We will share what wehave learned as well as the results of several year’s worth of evaluation results from ourassessments of numerous workshops held across the US. For example, teachers are able to definewhat a nanometer is but have trouble with important aspects of size and scale as related to nano,micro, and nanoscales. Understanding of what comprises the nanoscale is an important conceptfor a field that is defined by scale (1-100nm). In an already overcrowded science curriculum, it iscritical to demonstrate how nanotechnology can become part of current teaching and not just anadd-on component. We will present examples of how this can be achieved in professionaldevelopment workshops. Our evaluation results indicate that participants in our programs havegains in content knowledge and understand how nano-lessons can be incorporated into theirteaching

Healy, N., & Allen, J. P. (2011, June), Designing and Implementing Teacher Professional Development in Nanoscale Science and Engineering: What Makes for a Successful Program Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17722

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