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This is a lesson plan that explores how nanotechnology has impacted the world. It was developed to help students visualize just how tiny a nanometer is and how scientists work to apply principles of nanotechnology. In hands-on activities, students evaluate and compare the surface areas at the macroscopic and nanoscale level. Links are provided to images of nanoscale objects produced by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). In the culminating activity, learners prepare a mock proposal for funding a nanotechnology application of their choosing.

The lesson includes objectives and learner outcomes, problem sets, student guides, recommended reading, illustrated procedures, worksheets, and background information about the engineering connections.

This collection is part of TryEngineering.org, a website maintained by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Education Practices
- Active Learning
General Physics
- Measurement/Units
Modern Physics
- Atomic Physics
= Atomic Models
- Nanoscience
Other Sciences
- Engineering
- High School
- Middle School
- Instructional Material
= Activity
= Instructor Guide/Manual
= Lesson/Lesson Plan
= Problem/Problem Set
= Student Guide
- Audio/Visual
= Image/Image Set
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physical Science
- Physics First
- Conceptual Physics
- Lesson Plan
- Activity
- Laboratory
- Assessment
- New teachers
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© 2010 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
SEM, TEM, applied physics, engineering activity, engineering lessons, nanoscale science, scanning electron microscope, transmission electron microscope
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created July 26, 2012 by Gnana Subramaniam
Record Updated:
August 14, 2016 by Lyle Barbato
Last Update
when Cataloged:
December 4, 2010

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

3. The Nature of Technology

3A. Technology and Science
  • 6-8: 3A/M2. Technology is essential to science for such purposes as access to outer space and other remote locations, sample collection and treatment, measurement, data collection and storage, computation, and communication of information.
  • 6-8: 3A/M3. Engineers, architects, and others who engage in design and technology use scientific knowledge to solve practical problems. They also usually have to take human values and limitations into account.
3B. Design and Systems
  • 9-12: 3B/H1. In designing a device or process, thought should be given to how it will be manufactured, operated, maintained, replaced, and disposed of and who will sell, operate, and take care of it. The costs associated with these functions may introduce yet more constraints on the design.

4. The Physical Setting

4D. The Structure of Matter
  • 6-8: 4D/M1a. All matter is made up of atoms, which are far too small to see directly through a microscope.
  • 9-12: 4D/H7b. 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 Designed World

8B. Materials and Manufacturing
  • 9-12: 8B/H4. Increased knowledge of the properties of particular molecular structures helps in the design and synthesis of new materials for special purposes.
  • 9-12: 8B/H5. Objects made up of a small number of atoms may exhibit different properties than macroscopic objects made up of the same kinds of atoms.
  • 9-12: 8B/H6. 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.

11. Common Themes

11B. Models
  • 9-12: 11B/H5. The behavior of a physical model cannot ever be expected to represent the full-scale phenomenon with complete accuracy, not even in the limited set of characteristics being studied. The inappropriateness of a model may be related to differences between the model and what is being modeled.
11D. Scale
  • 6-8: 11D/M3. Natural phenomena often involve sizes, durations, and speeds that are extremely small or extremely large. These phenomena may be difficult to appreciate because they involve magnitudes far outside human experience.

12. Habits of Mind

12D. Communication Skills
  • 6-8: 12D/M9. Prepare a visual presentation to aid in explaining procedures or ideas.
  • 9-12: 12D/H7. Use tables, charts, and graphs in making arguments and claims in oral, written, and visual presentations.

Common Core State Standards for Mathematics Alignments

Geometry (K-8)

Solve real-life and mathematical problems involving angle measure, area, surface area, and volume. (7)
  • 7.G.6 Solve real-world and mathematical problems involving area, volume and surface area of two- and three-dimensional objects composed of triangles, quadrilaterals, polygons, cubes, and right prisms.

Expressions and Equations (6-8)

Solve real-life and mathematical problems using numerical and algebraic expressions and equations. (7)
  • 7.EE.4.a Solve word problems leading to equations of the form px + q = r and p(x + q) = r, where p, q, and r are specific rational numbers. Solve equations of these forms fluently. Compare an algebraic solution to an arithmetic solution, identifying the sequence of the operations used in each approach.

High School — Number and Quantity (9-12)

Quantities? (9-12)
  • N-Q.1 Use units as a way to understand problems and to guide the solution of multi-step problems; choose and interpret units consistently in formulas; choose and interpret the scale and the origin in graphs and data displays.
  • N-Q.2 Define appropriate quantities for the purpose of descriptive modeling.

Common Core State Reading Standards for Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects 6—12

Key Ideas and Details (6-12)
  • RST.9-10.2 Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; trace the text's explanation or depiction of a complex process, phenomenon, or concept; provide an accurate summary of the text.
Craft and Structure (6-12)
  • RST.9-10.4 Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 9—10 texts and topics.
Integration of Knowledge and Ideas (6-12)
  • RST.11-12.9 Synthesize information from a range of sources (e.g., texts, experiments, simulations) into a coherent understanding of a process, phenomenon, or concept, resolving conflicting information when possible.

Common Core State Writing Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects 6—12

Text Types and Purposes (6-12)
  • 1. Write arguments focused on discipline-specific content. (WHST.9-10.1)
Production and Distribution of Writing (6-12)
  • WHST.9-10.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
  • WHST.6-8.5 With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on how well purpose and audience have been addressed.
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Record Link
AIP Format
(Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 2010), WWW Document, (http://tryengineering.org/lesson-plans/exploring-nanoscale).
TryEngineering: Exploring at the Nanoscale, (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 2010), <http://tryengineering.org/lesson-plans/exploring-nanoscale>.
APA Format
TryEngineering: Exploring at the Nanoscale. (2010, December 4). Retrieved January 19, 2017, from Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers: http://tryengineering.org/lesson-plans/exploring-nanoscale
Chicago Format
International Business Machines. TryEngineering: Exploring at the Nanoscale. Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, December 4, 2010. http://tryengineering.org/lesson-plans/exploring-nanoscale (accessed 19 January 2017).
MLA Format
TryEngineering: Exploring at the Nanoscale. Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 2010. 4 Dec. 2010. International Business Machines. 19 Jan. 2017 <http://tryengineering.org/lesson-plans/exploring-nanoscale>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Title = {TryEngineering: Exploring at the Nanoscale}, Publisher = {Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers}, Volume = {2017}, Number = {19 January 2017}, Month = {December 4, 2010}, Year = {2010} }
Refer Export Format

%T TryEngineering: Exploring at the Nanoscale
%D December 4, 2010
%I Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
%U http://tryengineering.org/lesson-plans/exploring-nanoscale
%O application/pdf

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source
%D December 4, 2010
%T TryEngineering: Exploring at the Nanoscale
%I Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
%V 2017
%N 19 January 2017
%8 December 4, 2010
%9 application/pdf
%U http://tryengineering.org/lesson-plans/exploring-nanoscale

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