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published by the Materials Research and Engineering Center
This is an educator's guide for a classroom activity to help students understand just how small the "nanoscale" is. Materials are all common classroom supplies (paper, ruler, scissors, calculator, tape). The challenge presented to students is: cut a piece of paper in half as many times as you can until you reach 10 nanometers wide. The students first predict how many times they will have to cut the paper. They may do actual measuring or use a calculator.

Editor's Note: Of course, no one will be able to cut the paper this small. Expect students to gain an appreciation of just how small 10 nanometers is, and to spark discussion of how scientists measure things this small. This helps when they start to study atomic models. Teachers can extend the learning by asking students to measure their smallest cuts, then discuss error and uncertainty in measurement.

This resource contains a lesson plan, training video for teachers, comprehensive background information, and links to images obtained with scanning probe microscopy. This resource is part of the Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network (NISE) outreach program.

Please note that this resource requires Quicktime.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Education Practices
- Active Learning
= Modeling
General Physics
- Measurement/Units
= Scaling
Modern Physics
- Atomic Physics
= Atomic Models
- Nanoscience
- Middle School
- High School
- Instructional Material
= Activity
= Curriculum support
= Instructor Guide/Manual
= Lesson/Lesson Plan
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physical Science
- Physics First
- Conceptual Physics
- Algebra-based Physics
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Intended Users:
Educator
Learner
Formats:
application/pdf
image/jpeg
text/html
video/quicktime
Access Rights:
Free access
Restriction:
© 2005 University of Wisconsin-Madison
Keywords:
SPM, SPM images, microscopy, nanoscience, nanotechnology
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created September 14, 2010 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
August 27, 2013 by Lyle Barbato
Last Update
when Cataloged:
May 12, 2008

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

3. The Nature of Technology

3A. Technology and Science
  • 9-12: 3A/H1. Technological problems and advances often create a demand for new scientific knowledge, and new technologies make it possible for scientists to extend their research in new ways or to undertake entirely new lines of research. The very availability of new technology itself often sparks scientific advances.

11. Common Themes

11B. Models
  • 6-8: 11B/M1. Models are often used to think about processes that happen too slowly, too quickly, or on too small a scale to observe directly. They are also used for processes that are too vast, too complex, or too dangerous to study.

12. Habits of Mind

12B. Computation and Estimation
  • 9-12: 12B/H7. Trace the source of any large disparity between an estimate and the calculated answer.

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (1993 Version)

11. COMMON THEMES

D. Scale
  • 11D (9-12) #2.  Because different properties are not affected to the same degree by changes in scale, large changes in scale typically change the way that things work in physical, biological, or social systems.

12. HABITS OF MIND

B. Computation and Estimation
  • 12B (9-12) #6.  Express and compare very small and very large numbers using powers-of-ten notation.

This resource is part of a Physics Front Topical Unit.


Topic: Particles and Interactions and the Standard Model
Unit Title: Teaching Nanoscale Science

Just how small IS the "nanoscale"? The challenge in this activity is: cut a piece of paper in half as many times as you can until you reach 10 nanometers wide. Students first predict how many times they will have to cut the paper, then they start cutting. They may do actual measuring or use a calculator. Editor's Note: Of course, no one will be able to cut the paper this small. Expect students to gain appreciation of just how small 10 nanometers is.

Link to Unit:
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Record Link
AIP Format
(Materials Research and Engineering Center, Madison, 2005), WWW Document, (http://chemistry.beloit.edu/Edetc/IPSE/educators/cuttingNano.html).
AJP/PRST-PER
NISE Network: Cutting It Down to Nano Outreach Activity (Materials Research and Engineering Center, Madison, 2005), <http://chemistry.beloit.edu/Edetc/IPSE/educators/cuttingNano.html>.
APA Format
NISE Network: Cutting It Down to Nano Outreach Activity. (2008, May 12). Retrieved April 23, 2014, from Materials Research and Engineering Center: http://chemistry.beloit.edu/Edetc/IPSE/educators/cuttingNano.html
Chicago Format
Materials Research and Engineering Center. NISE Network: Cutting It Down to Nano Outreach Activity. Madison: Materials Research and Engineering Center, May 12, 2008. http://chemistry.beloit.edu/Edetc/IPSE/educators/cuttingNano.html (accessed 23 April 2014).
MLA Format
NISE Network: Cutting It Down to Nano Outreach Activity. Madison: Materials Research and Engineering Center, 2005. 12 May 2008. 23 Apr. 2014 <http://chemistry.beloit.edu/Edetc/IPSE/educators/cuttingNano.html>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Title = {NISE Network: Cutting It Down to Nano Outreach Activity}, Publisher = {Materials Research and Engineering Center}, Volume = {2014}, Number = {23 April 2014}, Month = {May 12, 2008}, Year = {2005} }
Refer Export Format

%T NISE Network: Cutting It Down to Nano Outreach Activity
%D May 12, 2008
%I Materials Research and Engineering Center
%C Madison
%U http://chemistry.beloit.edu/Edetc/IPSE/educators/cuttingNano.html
%O application/pdf

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source
%D May 12, 2008
%T NISE Network: Cutting It Down to Nano Outreach Activity
%I Materials Research and Engineering Center
%V 2014
%N 23 April 2014
%8 May 12, 2008
%9 application/pdf
%U http://chemistry.beloit.edu/Edetc/IPSE/educators/cuttingNano.html


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NISE Network: Cutting It Down to Nano Outreach Activity:

Is Part Of Internships in Public Science Education: Educator Resources

A link to the full set of educator resources developed by the University of Wisconsin NISE project (Nanoscale Informal Science Education). Includes activities for grades 6-12 on carbon nanotubes, ferrofluids, nanotechnology, liquid crystal sensors, nano-fabrics, nano-sugar, and magnetoresistance.

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