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Topics for Discussion and Classroom Activities

    Discuss how nanoparticles are, or can be, handled at the nanoscale. Students should understand that there are no nano-tweezers to pluck the atoms and put them together.

  1. Watch From Molecules to Superproducts, and discuss what is currently realistic in the field of nanotechnology.

  2. Read current literature and discuss/analyze its contents. You may get students to reflect on how research on basic science questions can inform progress on nanotechnologies, to distinguish between the possible risks of nanotechnology and the unrealistic hype about risks, and/or consider the way nanotechnology is presented by different media sources.

  3. Have students develop a creative presentation to explain nanotechnology to younger students. For inspiration, they could check out the "Nanosong" or "When Things Get Small." If your students make good multimedia presentations, please send us the link. We would love to post them on our website.

California State Standards


Atomic and Molecular Structure

1. The periodic table displays the elements in increasing atomic number and shows how periodicity of the physical and chemical properties of the elements relates to atomic structure.

    a. Students know how to relate the position of an element in the periodic table to its atomic number and atomic mass

    b. Students know how to use the periodic table to identify metals, semimetals, nonmetals, and halogens.

    d. Students know how to use the periodic table to determine the number of electrons available for bonding

Chemical Bonds

2. Biological, chemical, and physical properties of matter result from the ability of atoms to form bonds from electrostatic forces between electrons and protons and between atoms and molecules.

    a. Students know atoms combine to form molecules by sharing electrons to form covalent or metallic bonds or by exchanging electrons to form ionic bonds.

    b. Students know chemical bonds between atoms in molecules such as H2, CH4, NH3, H2CCH2, N2, Cl2, and many large biological molecules are covalent.

Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry

10. The bonding characteristics of carbon allow the formation of many different organic molecules of varied sizes, shapes, and chemical properties and provide the biochemical basis of life.

    b. Students know the bonding characteristics of carbon that result in the formation of a large variety of structures ranging from simple hydrocarbons to complex polymers and biological molecules.

Investigation and Experimentation

    l. Analyze situations and solve problems that require combining and applying concepts from more than one area of science.

    m. Investigate a science-based societal issue by researching the literature, analyzing data, and communicating the findings. Examples of issues include irradiation of food, cloning of animals by somatic cell nuclear transfer, choice of energy sources, and land and water use decisions in California.

American Association for the Advancement of
Science Project 2061 Standards

3. The Nature of Technology

C. Issues in Technology

    3. In deciding on proposals to introduce new technologies or curtail existing ones, some key questions arise concerning possible alternatives, who benefits and who suffers, financial and social costs, possible risks, resources used (human, material, or energy), and waste disposal.

4. The Physical Setting

D. The Structure of Matter

    2. The number of protons in the nucleus determines what an atom's electron configuration can be and so defines the element. An atom's electron configuration, particularly the outermost electrons, determines how the atom can interact with other atoms. Atoms form bonds to other atoms by transferring or sharing electrons.

    7a. Atoms often join with one another in various combinations in distinct molecules or in repeating three-dimensional crystal patterns

    7b. An enormous variety of biological, chemical, and physical phenomena can be explained by changes in the arrangement and motion of atoms and molecules.

    8. The configuration of atoms in a molecule determines the molecule's properties. Shapes are particularly important in how large molecules interact with others.

    9. Some atoms and molecules are highly effective in encouraging the interaction of others.

    10. The physical properties of compounds reflect the nature of the interactions among its molecules. These interactions are determined by the structure of the molecule, including the constituent atoms and the distances and angles between them.

G. Forces of Nature

    2b. At the atomic level, electric forces between electrons and protons in atoms hold molecules together and thus are involved in all chemical reactions.

    2c. Electric forces hold solid and liquid materials together and act between objects when they are in contact–as in sticking or sliding friction.

8. The Designed World

B. Materials and Manufacturing

    4. Increased knowledge of the properties of particular molecular structures helps in the design and synthesis of new materials for special purposes.

    5. Objects made up of a small number of atoms may exhibit different properties than macroscopic objects made up of the same kinds of atoms.

    6. Groups of atoms and molecules can form structures that can be measured in billionths of a meter. The properties of structures at this scale (known as the nanoscale) and materials composed of such structures can be very different than the properties at the macroscopic scale because of the increase in the ratio of surface area to volume and changes in the relative strengths of different forces at different scales. Increased knowledge of the properties of materials at the nanoscale provides a basis for the development of new materials and new uses of existing materials.

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