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Nano-environmental Engineering for Teachers (Work in Progress)

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Professional Development for Teachers

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Carolyn Aitken Nichol Rice University

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Dr. Carolyn Nichol is a Faculty Fellow in Chemistry and the Director of the Rice Office of STEM Engagement (R-STEM). R-STEM provides teacher professional development to elementary and secondary teachers in science and math content and pedagogy, while also providing STEM outreach to the Houston Community. Dr. Nichol’s research interests are in science education and science policy. She received her B.S. in chemical engineering from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, her doctorate in chemical engineering from the University of Texas (UT) at Austin, and served as a postdoctoral fellow in the College of Pharmacy at UT Austin. Prior to joining Rice University, she worked at Boehringer Ingelheim on innovative drug delivery systems and she was an Assistant Professor in Diagnostic Radiology at UT MD Anderson Cancer Center, where she conducted research on nonviral gene therapy systems. At Rice University she has developed and taught courses in The Department of Bioengineering including Numerical Methods, Pharmaceutical Engineering, Systems Physiology, Biomaterials and Advances in BioNanotechnology.

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Christina Anlynette Alston Rice University Orcid 16x16

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As Associate Director for Science and Engineering of the Rice Office of STEM Engagement, I lead the Rice Excellence in Secondary Science Teaching (RESST) biology program. In this capacity, she guides Houston area high school Life Science teachers in weekly meetings on Rice’s campus to explore both biology concepts and the ways in which they can be taught using inquiry methods.
I also works with the NEWT Center and leads their Nanotechnology Environmental Engineering for Teachers (NEET) and NEWT Research Experience for Teachers (RET) programs.

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Jorge E Loyo Rosales Rice University


Alice Chow

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Alice Chow is an Associate Director for Research and Grants for the Rice University Office of STEM Engagement. She conducts research in K-12 STEM education on topics such as impact of teacher professional development programs on student achievement and attitudes.

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Carrie Obenland Rice University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Obenland is the Assistant Director for Outreach and Research at the Rice Office of STEM Engagement. She as her PhD in Chemistry from Rice University, as well as her Masters. Her graduate work was focused on chemical education. She earned her BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin.

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The description of a well-rounded science K-12 student can be summed up by a list of skills necessary for the receiving, processing and sharing of information: scientific communication skills, critical thinking skills, and the ability to work in collaborative groups. In classroom Project Based Learning (PBL) experiences provide students with an opportunity to cultivate and grow these skills, while learning scientific content. In order for students to take part in a successful PBL experience, K-12 teacher must be trained in effective PBL practices.

The NanoEnvironmental Engineering for Teachers (NEET) program fulfills this role by providing K-12 teaches with a unique PBL experience over the course of a semester. Twentyfive K-12 teachers are selected to participate in the course giving preference to those who teach AP Environmental Science in high-needs school district. NEET participants are grouped by their interest in current events related to water scarcity, treatment, and sustainability. Teachers gain valuable engineering design experience and deepen their content knowledge while simultaneously forming connections between research, design practices, and their classrooms. NEET participants are guided in these connections via guest lecture by faculty and graduate students from the National Science Foundation’s Engineering Research Center on Nanotechnology-Enabled Water Treatment (NEWT). The course meets weekly to provide model inquiry based lessons, which focus on incorporating nanoscience and engineering. Moreover, teachers use the class time to discuss their project ideas, share their classroom experiences, design prototypes around case studies, and learn current approaches to water sustainability. Over the semester, teachers and university faculty and staff form a collaborative, supportive community. NEET culminates with an engineering design showcase which provided teachers with a unique opportunity to present their semester engineering projects to their peers, school administrators and NEWT members. The showcase also served a dual role of developing the teacher’s scientific communication skills. This paper details the NEET objectives, program design, as well as lessons learned.

Nichol, C. A., & Alston, C. A., & Loyo Rosales, J. E., & Chow, A., & Obenland, C. (2018, June), Nano-environmental Engineering for Teachers (Work in Progress) Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--29642

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