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The Columbia-GE Workshop: A Constructivist Approach to Materials Science for High School Students

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A two-day workshop designed to expose 11th and 12th grade students to industrial applications of Materials Science and Nanotechnology is described. This workshop has been taught to seven 32-student cohorts since 2004 at the Materials Science and Nanotechnology Summer High School program at Columbia University. During the first day, teams of five to six students were trained to evaluate the connection between structure, properties, processing, and performance of materials using examples from the Nanotechnology program at GE Global Research. During the second day, the teams were given Problem-Based Learning/Peer-Led Team Learning (PBL/PLTL) exercises based on the mechanical and thermal properties of a variety of polymeric materials and candy products. Finally the teams prepared and presented a poster for evaluation purposes. A formative evaluation questionnaire and a SALG (Student Assessment of their Learning Gains) instrument were used to evaluate individual learning. The results of the SALG instrument corroborated the formative evaluation questionnaire findings about the benefits of the workshop as an outreach activity. Most students claimed to have solidified their knowledge of materials' performance, besides learning budgeting and how to trade off, as we expected.
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  • The Journal of Nano Education (JNE) is a peer-reviewed international journal that aims to provide the most complete and reliable source of information on current developments in nanoscale science, technology, engineering, and medical education.
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