4. Supplemental Curriculum Activities

This page is organized around questions that relate to nanoscale science.  Each question has from one to several activities that are intended to be used to enhance understanding of concepts presented in the Geckoman videogame.  The activities are also organized to be either applied in sequence or as stand alone activities for each question.  Completion of these activities can incur additional costs. In addition, safety should be employed in all instances where laboratory activities are performed. 

Q1. What is the potential for nanotechnology?

Activity 1) - Use this activity if you have access to the internet and a computer with a projector.  Students can also be given the question forms for use with the video and they may work in small groups to collect information from the videos.  The first video provides information about what Nanotechnology is and reviews the concept of scale.  The second video discusses nanotechnology in the context of living things, specifically it discusses the self-assembly of the lipid bilayer, or cell membrane, which is the main biological surface for all living things.  The third video reviews the tools we can use to observe objects at the nanoscale.  The fourth and final video discusses nanotechnology applications.

          1. Watch the videos 

Q2. How big are nanoparticles?

Activity 2)- View the Milky Way at 10 million light years from the Earth. Then move through space towards the Earth in successive orders of magnitude until you reach a tall oak tree just outside the buildings of the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory in Tallahassee, Florida. After that, begin to move from the actual size of a leaf into a microscopic world that reveals leaf cell walls, the cell nucleus, chromatin, DNA and finally, into the subatomic universe of electrons and protons.


Activity 3) - Size and scale are very difficult for students in K-12 to understand.  Thomas Tretter has developed a model using a life size dime to construct a model of moving through Powers of Ten to assist students in visualizing objects down to the level of nanoscale.  You can read an  article for this concept written by Thomas Tretter (Conceptualizing Nanoscale in The Science Teacher, December 2006) .  Then, you can use the directions attached below to construct the model he describes in his article.

Scroll down this page to view the instructional device cited an Article written by Thomas Tretter entitled "Conceptualizing Nanoscale" in
The Science Teacher, December 2006 Issue.

Activity 4) - Reinforcement Activity for Size and Scale
This lesson consists of two activities linked by classroom discussion. Its purpose is to engage students in the general topic of technology. The first activity involves classroom discussion and a short scenario to allow students to develop a sense of what technology is and to dispel the notion that technology relates mostly to computers. The second activity introduces students to the concept of scale by using the classroom to repre-sent a cell and other smaller objects to represent subcellular components.

1. What is Technology? 
from NIH Curriculum Supplements  entitled "Using Technology to Study Cellular and Molecular Biology

Q3. How do nanoparticles behave?

Activity 5) - Gold nanoparticles-otherwise known as colloidal gold-have a long history dating back more than 1000 years. Discover the beautiful properties of ruby-red colloidal gold in this introduction to nanotechnology demonstration. Reacting a very dilute solution of gold chloride in water with sodium citrate, a mild reducing agent, produces elemental gold. The gold particles are so small, 20 nanometers in diameter, that the “metallic” gold is uniformly dispersed in a stunning, transparent, ruby-red solution! Adding sodium chloride causes the particles to coagulate and the color shifts to purple or blue. Measure the visible absorption spectrum of colloidal gold to learn more about the optical properties of gold nanoparticles and their uses-background information provided with the kit relates the color changes to nanotechnology applications, including medical diagnostic kits for HIV detection and biosensors for DNA analysis. Use this elegant demonstration to show what happens when solid particles “shrink” down to the nanometer scale, one-billionth of a meter.

Flinn Ruby-Red Colloidal Gold Nanotechnology Demonstration
 (Order Item AP7117)

Activity 6) - Making a Ferrofluid to use in demonstrations - visit the UW-MRSEC Video Lab Manual to get a detailed list of demonstrations and how-to for making nanoparticles with unique properties.  If you would just like to show students what a ferrofluid can do, use this link to movies of ferrofluids.

Q4. What is responsible for the unique properties of nanomaterials?

Activity 7) - Intermolecular Forces - hydrogen bonding and water
The size of the particle determines a great deal about material properties at the nanoscale.  Beyond a particular threshold, materials behave in the manner we expect them to in the macroscale world. The properties that change rather dramatically from the nanoscale to the macroscale are: the interaction with light, such as reflected color, the conductivity of a material, and the melting point.  In addition, gravity at the nanoscale becomes a far less dominant force upon an object, whereas static electricity, magnetism, London dispersion forces, and other intermolecular forces (e.g., hydrogen bonding, van der Waals forces) become significant.  The size of the particle also determines the surface area of the the molecule in contact with its environment.  Therefore, surface area to volume ratio (activity 8) increases when we move from the macroscale to the nanoscale and this measurable characteristic may increase the chemical reaction rates of the material, as well as other interactive properties of the material.

Tiny Teacups Activity (this activity can also be found in J. Jones, M. Gail, Michael R. Falvo, Amy R. Taylor, and Bethany P. Broadwell. “Shrinking Cups: Changes in the Behavior of Materials at the Nanoscale.” In Nanoscale Science: Activities for Grades 6-12. pp. 89-94. Arlington, VA: NSTA Press. )

Activity 8) - Cutting it Down to Size by UW-MRSEC

Activity 9) - "Limits to Size: Could King Kong Exist?" found in J. Jones, M. Gail, Michael R. Falvo, Amy R. Taylor, and Bethany P. Broadwell. “Limits to Size: Could King Kong Exist” In Nanoscale Science: Activities for Grades 6-12. pp. 95-105. Arlington, VA: NSTA Press.

Q5. How can we see nanoparticles?

Q6. What is the societal impact of nanotechnology?

Activity 12) - We have included below a document that includes a series of age-appropriate, technology-related ethical dilemmas developed by NU-RET participant (2007) Erica Wilson, who teaches at the Engineering School in Boston, MA. 

Rocco Cieri,
Jul 28, 2009, 11:03 AM
Rocco Cieri,
Jul 27, 2009, 11:08 AM
Rocco Cieri,
Jul 30, 2009, 8:11 AM