|A nano carbon tube made from balloons. Not to scale.|
I spent yesterday morning at Nano Connect 2012 at Wheeling High School in Chicago’s northwest suburbs. This two-pronged conference on nanotechnology consisted of sessions by and for high school students with a complementary track for educators and professionals.
The future is small, really small (10 to the negative 9th of a meter small!) when you’re talking nanoscale, but the payoff is big.
How small is 10 to -9th? Head 1 minute and 52 seconds into the video below for a sensible explanation.
Nanotechnology in Schools
The Key to the Future
Nanotechnology is going to change medicine and manufacturing in amazing, mind-blowing ways. (Not sure what all these teensy particles will do to our environment and such, but let’s focus on the good for now, shall we?)
When you bring materials down to the nanoscale, things get curiouser and curiouser. Check out the photo below: on the right, you’ll see sparkly gold flakes as you know and love them. On the left, observe the pink nano-gold solution. What the what?
So, yeah, things get a bit odd in the nano world, so maybe it’s not surprising that one of the first general (as opposed to selective admission) public high schools in the USA to incorporate nanotechnology into their curriculum hosted a nanotech conference just weeks into implementing said curriculum.
On the one hand, one could accuse the emperor superintendent of not wearing any clothes. (Of course, if you had the right kind of microscope, you’d see the nanotech suit clearly, but it’s invisible to the naked eye.) I mean, why is everyone getting so excited about a program of study that has just been introduced? It’s a little early to call it a success.
On the other hand, it did make a convenient setting for Illinois Governor Pat Quinn to announce a new statewide Nanotech Initiative. And certainly, it’s a clever PR move for the Wheeling to show off their unique program at the beginning of the school year.
The program is certainly moving the school in a positive direction given that they already have a STEM focus, and it left me wondering what my son’s high school is doing along the lines of nanotech. You know, keeping up with the Joneses and all that.
Right…I thought the Jones kids went to New Trier, too. As a high school with a minority-majority population and many kids coming from low income homes, it’s pretty cool that Wheeling High School gets big bragging rights for this teensy STEM topic.
I’ll be back to share more about the content of Nanotech Connect as well as resources for homeschoolers and curious parents (and their kids).
Oh, and nanosoccer? It’s totally a thing. Just don’t ever put me in charge of a team. I’d probably lose it.