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Engaging Middle School Students in Nanoscale Science, Nanotechnology, and Electron Microscopy

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Abstract:

The purpose of this study was to explore factors that contributed to engaging middle school students during a problem-based inquiry, which introduced nanoscale science and discussed nanotechnology-based solutions. Designed to foster student engagement, this method used an online science inquiry that investigated the Lehigh Gap, Lehigh Gap Superfund Site during five weeks of collaborative classroom sessions. The inquiry was authored in WISE, Web-Based Science Inquiry Environment and supplemented with the ImagiNations Web site, which provided an introduction to nanoscale science, nanotechnology and electron microscopy. Online materials, readings, and class sessions were augmented with remote access to an XL30 scanning electron microscope with an energy X-ray dispersive spectrometer (EDS) to analyze Lehigh Gap samples. Over one hundred sixth graders contributed micrographs and energy X-ray dispersive spectra they generated during their research to a university database. Selected student groups also presented their results to researchers at the university working on the same problem at the Lehigh Gap. This approach proved highly engaging and led to students' understanding of nanoscale science, nanotechnology, and electron microscopy.

Keywords: ELECTRON MICROSCOPY; INQUIRY-BASED LEARNING; NANOSCALE SCIENCE; NANOTECHNOLOGY; PROBLEM-BASED LEARNING; STEM EDUCATION; STUDENT ENGAGEMENT

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1166/jne.2010.1001

Publication date: June 1, 2010

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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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