Nanotechnology in Schools: the importance of ethical points and values in STEM education

Author: Aliya Ahmadova

Another online activity that I organized for #SDC20 was STEM-based online webinar for the teachers involved in the STEM project and those coming from eTwinning. The information about the upcoming webinar was published on the project’s Facebook page and eTwinning website.

What can nanotechnology, a topic which is not included in the curriculum of secondary schools, give to students and educators?

  • Encourages scientific thinking – students and young people familiar with the concept of nanotechnology are more likely to turn to STEM subjects for scientific research. ‘S’, which is the first letter of the abbreviation ‘STEM’ and means ‘natural sciences’ encourages us to study the scientific basis of the events happening in the surrounding world.
  • A new and “untouched” topic – an exciting and different nanotechnology project will expand the opportunities for high school students who want to work and show high learning outcomes to discover, learn and apply their potential.
  • The presence of many examples of nanomaterial around us (medical substances, photo-sensitive colouring, water filtration, nano-medical tapes, nano-fabrics, etc.) allows students to work on nanotechnology-related projects to achieve the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) and bring innovation by making little steps.

Online webinar

When we dig deeper into the concept of nanotechnology, it is very important to pay attention to ethical points and values. This issue is extremely relevant for STEM teaching and the teaching of nanotechnology in schools.
Please read more about this: here.

During the first part of the webinar, I paid special attention to ethical points and values, covering the topics that ranged from Azerbaijan’s STEM inventions to Nanotechnology progress.

During the second part of the online event, I presented the teaching and learning online tools and resources, which teachers can use to introduce the concepts of nanoscience or nanotechnology in an interesting way; to search for information, related to this scientific field; to understand why this field is important:

  • Animation of the dimensions of the universe: you can control the animation by moving the measuring line at the bottom to the right or left. The magnificence of the material world, which has been increasing or decreasing since the human dimension, can be skillfully used at any stage of the lesson through interdisciplinary integration. The macro and micro worlds, the material worlds we can and cannot see, are magnificent, manageable animations for the comparative presentation of nanoparticles.
  • Nanooze: from the concept of nano to the application of nanotechnology. It is an age-appropriate resource, developed by Cornell University for handling simple experiments, etc.
  • NanoDays: is a platform providing various resources and great opportunities for “little scientists”.
  • Colortopia, created by Walt Disney World, is a mobile learning application for tablets and smartphones, mastering the concept of nanoscale through the world of colours.
  • DIY Nano is a mobile application where users will receive simple lessons on nanotechnology. Learning is possible anywhere when using the right tools.
  •  ‘Make it yourself’ nano activities: these nano activities and practices provide an opportunity to learn about nanoscience and nanoscale through the perspective of science, engineering and technology. A ready-made PDF for each activity includes a wide range of topics, a list of affordable materials needed, step-by-step instructions and detailed explanations.
  • NanoBuzz: introduces the concepts of carbon nanotubes, water filtering, nanoparticles, through online games and are designed for lower grade students.
  • Nano Space: a dynamic, web-based, virtual theme park for children of all ages to explore the internal structure of the entire material world, where nanoparticles will be encountered through rich animations. It gives students a chance to explore the world of atoms and molecules through games, activities and short animations. The ability to look at the internal structure of the material world is important for interdisciplinary integration, creating a unified view of the surrounding world.
  • Nano StartUp: a virtual and simulated scientific game for 6th – 8th grade students to build, research, and develop a scientific work plan on nanotechnology and nanoparticles which are STEM topics. It provides the instructions for teachers, information regarding the skills to be acquired.
  • Chain DNA: is an online scientific game for students in grades 7th – 11th to learn how a disease undergoes a genetic mutation and how mutations affect generations, protein conversions. The medical advice is provided as well. Instructions for teachers, information regarding the skills to be acquired can be found on the webiste too.
  • Mission: Nano: this application offers four challenges for diagnosing and treating a bone injury using medical nanotechnology. The student (player), acting as a doctor, can choose the appropriate “story mode” to solve 4 problems as soon as possible. Mission: Nano is currently available on the web and for Android users. The main purpose of developing a multimedia game application based on nanotechnology is to inform about the use of nanotechnology in medicine and to focus on STEM-oriented nanotechnology features.
  • DNA 3D print: we consist of nanoparticles – DNA’s. Students can view and make changes to this DNA 3D design during virtual lessons. It is a fun and interesting teaching resource.