From Electric Field To Nanotechnology
From Pre-school to University
Science Inspired by Spider!
Teachers: Ayşin Kahramantekin, Ceyda Nur Yılmaz, Umut Güzel, Onur Kırık, Umut Kanya
How do spiders spin extremely strong and long fibres only a few nanometers thick? May it have to do with electric charge?
Yes! Spider spins silk fibers only a few nanometers thick with electric charge.
So, can we make a simple cell phone battery with aluminium foil and stretch film, charge it, and measure the electric field? Yes, our students just did that! From pre-school to high school!
About our project
We, as educators from different cities, were very happy to adopt the same STEM plan to different levels from pre-school to university, and implement it enthusiastically and in cooperation. It has been a magical learning journey for students and educators.
STEM 5E learning plan steps were applied to the students who participated in this activity organized in cooperation with Muğla Sıtkı Koçman University Physics Department Molecular Nanomaterials Laboratory, İstanbul Şehit İbrahim Yılmaz Kindergarten, Denizli Ülker Yörükoğlu BİLSEM and Hatay BİLSEM. By explaining the potential of nanomaterials produced such as energy storage, sensor, gas storage, filter, wearable technology and clean water treatment, it was ensured that they raise awareness in the field of sustainability.
In this way, students were inspired to increase their interest in STEM fields such as engineering and basic sciences and to be active in the fields of production and entrepreneurship, research and development in the future with the awareness of citizenship. In addition, in our activity partner schools, students were able to connect the electric field to daily life by applying STEM steps at different levels, stepping into the magical world of Biomimicry, inspired by the nano-engineering of spiders, and have been able to connect with STEM careers.
Addressing ‘nano’ topics with students at all grades
At the pre-school level; Faraday, magnetic field and electric field relationship was explained from abstract to concrete. In order to explain the Faraday cage, a cell phone experiment was performed by modelling it with water.
Our students’ observation that the electric field is measured was very informative.
In higher levels, at first the problem was determined, and then “Nanotechnology” in Chemistry, “Electric Field” in Physics, and Mathematical modeling was used to explain that the electric field changes inversely proportional with the square of the distance, in Mathematics. The students made capacitors using only two aluminum foils and a piece of stretch film. They charged the capacitor with the battery (like their phone battery stored the charge), then removed the batteries and measured the voltage in the electrical charge-stored electric field.
Identifying a problem
In problem-case guidance: “Dear students; one of the biggest problems and needs of our country at the moment is that “the number of people who identify, design, develop and most importantly are aware the problem, especially young people like you, is very low. To research and develop in every field of our country, especially in defense, space, health industries and to increase the level of welfare is very important for guarantee of our future. So your duty is to research, develop and then try to produce topics that can be used in daily life in your lesson subjects!” By creating awareness about the problem, motivation is also provided.
After presenting the problem situation, interesting and informative activities related to the electric field were held, visuals about the simple electric circuit and capacitor electric circuit were distributed and brainstormed about the differences between them. The students were asked to interpret the gap between the charges in the first phase by asking the questions one by one, and it was emphasized that an electric field was created in the gap in the circuit number 1, and information was given about the electric field. Students were reminded that electric charges act without contact with each other in electrification with effect, and the concept of “remote action” was continued with the explanation brought by Michael Faraday:
“Whether or not there is another object around, an electrically charged object spreads around by creating a field and affects a second object placed at a point in this field. When you stretch a spring to shoot an arrow, you store mechanical energy as elastic potential energy.”
An example of this is the accumulation of gravitational potential energy by collecting water in dams. Systems that store electrical charge and therefore electrical potential energy are called capacitors. Capacitors consist of two conductors that are insulated from each other, meaning they do not touch each other. It was emphasized that the capacitors store electrical energy in the electric field between their ends. And then they have obtained their mathematical modeling.
Students were directed to the simulation at Capacitor Lab: Basics. Mathematical modeling of the variables affecting the capacitor’s capacity has obtained by the students. So Mathematics integration has been done.
Within the scope of the “Let’s Make Our Own Capacitor from Aluminum Foil” activity, we asked our students questions about how to create an electric field with conductive aluminum foil and insulating stretch film. And they made the capacitors. By this way, curiosity was created about how the electric field would change and how electrical potential energy was stored in the electric field if the variables changed. And then students connected batteries to the capacitor and charged (just like in our mobile phones and computer batteries). They measured the voltage in the electric field with a multimeter.
This activity was carried out at all levels from pre-school to high school, and it was integrated in accordance with the levels to ensure that students both become informed and excited about science.
How spiders use electric field and weave webs?
Afterwards, information was given by using Biomimicry, about Nanotechnology, how spiders use electric field and weave webs and by supporting them with videos, pictures and links, the students were both provided to connect and the excitement of science was created.
The students were explained that the spiders had six pouches, that they had separate formulas for throwing webs, wrapping their prey, wrapping their offspring, and spinning webs, they prepared separate solutions by mixing them in their pouches, they spun nanofibers by using electric field and these solutions. It was emphasized that science was inspired by spiders and created nanofiber textile products by applying “their method”.
Learning from the experts
Then, at the end of our activity, we connected online to our friend in Muğla Sıtkı Koçman University Molecular and Nano Materials Laboratory and applied nanofiber production with the “Electrospinning” device. After Dr. Tunç Erdal Akdur’s presentation on “Sustainability and Citizenship”, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Görkem Oylumluoğlu informed us with his presentation “Nanotechnology”.
Teachers made presentations on how applied this activity to the students. As a result we completed the integration of our activity “From Preschool to High School, From Electric Field to Nanomaterials, separately for each level.
In addition, the awareness of our students on the SDW 2021 theme “Sustainability and Citizenship” has been increased by ensuring that they learn the science of energy storage and integrate them with the application areas of nanotechnology. An analytical rubric was prepared for measurement and evaluation.
Join the club!
In conclusion you should definitely do STEM activities like this so that your students should see the magic of science that imitates nature, see collaborations with universities and laboratories and be inspired for academic studies. By this way the acquisions that every level will gain from such activities will surely be invaluable.
In the magical world of STEM and Biomimicry, we completed a fun, exciting learning journey for our students and us. This journey will led us to different science-filled journeys! 🙂
- Kronenberger, K., & Vollrath, F. (2015). Spiders spinning electrically charged nano-fibres. Biology Letters, 11(1), 20140813–20140813. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2014.0813
- MEB 11th grade Physics textbook
- MEB 12th Grade Chemistry textbook
- Yapay Örümcek Ağı Üretmek için Çevreci Bir Yöntem Geliştirildi | İnovatif Kimya Dergisi (inovatifkimyadergisi.com)
- İpek Yapısı(Örümcek Ağını Yapısı) (ansiklopedim.com)
- Common Spider Spins Silk Fibers Only a Few Nanometers Thick with Electric Charge : Nature & Environment : Science World Report
- Ders: Fizik Sahnesi – 11. Sınıf (metu.edu.tr)
NanoSTEM Online Activity Youtube Link: NanoSTEM STEM Discovery Campaign 2021 – YouTube
All the visuals belong and were provided by the Author – Attribution CC-BY