What "ideas-about-nanotechnology" should be taught in school science? Based on Delphi Study of the Expert Community
Dr. Ron Blonder
Postdocs and students
When we reviewed the field of nanotechnology education, we found that although many nanotechnology programs for students and teachers had been developed (including ours), the nanotechnology field had not been systematically mapped for the purpose of teaching students. There is a need to identify basic concepts and basic applications in nanotechnology that should be taught in high-school science. We therefore decided to explore this issue. For this purpose we built two communities of experts (nanotechnology researchers, and science teachers) to construct a valid Delphi study. Ten basic nanotechnology concepts were identified in the first round of the Delphi study; each concept is accompanied by its explanation, definition, why it is important to be taught, and suggestions how it should be taught. In addition, nineteen different applications (e.g., Nano-electronics, Nano-medicine, and Nano-filtering Nanorobots) were identified in the first round of the Delphi study; each application is accompanied by its explanation, definition, why it is important to be taught, and suggestions how it should be taught. Four concepts emerged in the Delphi study, which were not previously identified (Stevens, Sutherland, & Krajcik, 2009): "dimensionality", "functionality", "fabrication approaches of nanomaterials", and "the 'making of' nanotechnology". A significant difference was found between teachers and researchers regarding two concepts: "size & scale", and "classification of nanomaterials". The significant difference found between these two groups emphasizes the importance of including these two groups (researchers and educators) in the Delphi study, since each group has its own viewpoint. After identifying the basic concepts and applications of nanotechnology, we will examine different nanotechnology programs that were developed, and we will analyze their structure according to the results of the Delphi study. The next stage of this study is to find suitable places within the science high-school curriculum for integrating the identified concepts and applications. In addition, we will develop a deeper understanding of the concepts that were not identified thus far in the literature, and will examine the connections between the suggested nanotechnology concepts and applications in order provide the foundations for teaching the nanotechnology basic concepts in the context of nanotechnology applications.