Students are introduced to the nano-size length scale as they make measurements and calculate unit conversions. They measure common objects and convert their units to nanometers, giving them a simple reference frame for understanding the very small size of nanometers. Then, they compare provided length data from objects too small to measure, such as a human hair and a flea, giving them a comparative insight to the nanotechnology scale. Using familiar and common objects for comparison helps students understand more complex scientific concepts.
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- Common Core State Standards for Mathematics: Math
- 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. (Grades 9 - 12)  ...show
- International Technology and Engineering Educators Association: Technology
- I. Research and development is a specific problem-solving approach that is used intensively in business and industry to prepare devices and systems for the marketplace. (Grades 9 - 12)  ...show
- Texas: Science
- collect data and make measurements with accuracy and precision; (Grades 10 - 12)  ...show
- express and manipulate chemical quantities using scientific conventions and mathematical procedures, including dimensional analysis, scientific notation, and significant figures; (Grades 10 - 12)  ...show
- Make measurements using multiple measuring techniques.
- Perform unit conversions.
- Explain the nano-sized length scale as it compares to multiple references.
- two 12-inch rulers (alternatively, provide measuring tapes or meter sticks)
- two 12-in (30 cm) pieces of string
- 1 tennis ball or other round object (orange, apple, etc.)
- 1 pencil
- one 2-in x 2-in (5-cm x 5-cm) square of cardboard or paper
- 1-3 scientific calculators
- Measurement & Conversion Worksheet, one per student
|engineering:||Creating new things for the benefit of humanity and our world.|
|nanometer:||Length measurement that is equal to 1 x 10^-9m.|
Before the Activity
- Set out all supplies, except the worksheet, on a table.
- Make copies of the Measurement & Conversion Worksheet, one per student.
With the Students
- Divide the class into groups of three or four students each.
- Instruct students to double check that they have all supplies.
- Have student groups read the worksheet and proceed to take measurements, make unit conversions and answer the questions.
- Have students turn in their worksheets for grading.
- Conclude with a class discussion to compare results and realizations about the extreme smallness of the nano length scale.
Activity Embedded Assessment
FDA Continues Dialogue on "Nano" Regulation. Last updated July 18, 2012. For Consumers, US Food and Drug Administration. Accessed September 26, 2012. (caption information on Bucky balls) http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm258462.htm
© 2013 by Regents of the University of Colorado; original © 2011 University of Houston
National Science Foundation GK-12 and Research Experience for Teachers (RET) Programs, University of Houston
Last modified: February 27, 2015