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Learning About the Societal Impacts of Nanotechnology Through Role Playing

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A classroom activity introduces students to the ethical issues related to nanotechnology. Students play the roles of business owners, school administrators and local residents as they debate real life issues which include the use of nanotechnology for (1) collecting consumer shopping data, (2) enhancing campus security through increased surveillance and (3) manufacturing nanodevices despite potentially adverse effects on the environment. Each student receives an assigned role for one of the three scenarios and researches the topic. During the debate and in a written assignment, the student provides facts to support the character's viewpoint. Students also reflect on the topics themselves (not as their characters). Each debate lasted about forty-five minutes and included participation from the audience. Student comments taken from the written assignment and a video recording of the debate provide evidence that this assignment successfully encouraged them to critically think about how nanotechnology can affect their lives. The assignment was inspired by the television show, “Nanotechnology: The Power of Small.”


Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1166/jne.2012.1030

Publication date: March 1, 2013

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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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