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Models Of Nanoscale Phenomena As Tools For Engineering Design And Science Inquiry

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Engineering Professional Development for K-12 Teachers – I

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1077.1 - 12.1077.14



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Paper Authors

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Shanna Daly Purdue University Orcid 16x16

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Lynn Bryan Purdue University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Models of Nanoscale Phenomena as Tools for Engineering Design and Science Inquiry Abstract

One of the central goals of the National Center for Learning and Teaching Nanoscale Science and Engineering (NCLT) focuses on integrating concepts of nanoscale phenomena into middle- and high-school curricula. To this end, it becomes especially important to utilize models and modeling for instructional purposes. Teachers’ conceptions on the use of models for teaching nanoscale concepts were investigated during a two-week professional development workshop led by the NCLT. Workshop activities aimed to broaden teachers’ conceptions on the utility of models for design- and inquiry-based instruction. While teachers expanded their views, their selected nanoscale science and engineering models lacked the design and inquiry components that we hoped to achieve. This information facilitates refinements to our modeling activities for future professional development workshops. Ultimately, we aim to provide teachers with the support they need to use models of nanoscale phenomena as tools for engineering design and science inquiry.


Increased federal funding of nanotechnology-related research and development1 raises questions concerning the preparedness of future engineers and scientists. As estimated by the National Science Foundation, two million workers will be needed to support nanotechnology industries worldwide within 15 years.2 It is necessary for the science education system to prepare students for this job market. Research has shown that many students opt out of science-related careers before they enter college,3 thus the incorporation of nanotechnology concepts into middle- and high-school curricula becomes important.

These recent initiatives for teaching nanoscale concepts to younger students have strengthened the push for incorporating engineering into the K-12 classroom. Engineering in the K-12 curricula advances student learning and bridges classroom lessons to real-world experiences.4,5 The United States’ investment made in future nanotechnology developments requires a reformed educational program for preparing students for engineering, science, and technology careers.6 The incorporation of nanoscale concepts into middle- and high-school curricula can contribute to these initiatives.

Research has demonstrated that students of science may gain deeper conceptual understandings when they are able to build and manipulate models of science phenomena.7 In addition, there is a consensus among scientists, engineers, and science and engineering educators in the field of nanoscale phenomena that education of nanoscale science, engineering, and technology concepts relies on models and modeling.8,9 Considering the process of creating models to represent nanoscale phenomena as a design task, students can develop this high-level thinking and engineering skill of design while improving their understanding of nanoscale phenomena. Additionally, models can be used for inquiry tasks, allowing students to develop their skills of investigation, also a necessary engineering skill. Utilizing model design and inquiry-based models in the education of nanoscale concepts relies upon teachers.

Daly, S., & Bryan, L. (2007, June), Models Of Nanoscale Phenomena As Tools For Engineering Design And Science Inquiry Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2413

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