31 Jul 2015

Teachers Receive Training in Nanotechnology

Teachers Receive Training in Nanotechnology

Author: David Mance  /  Categories: Education, Sciences & Technology, News  / 

More than one dozen middle school science teachers in the Tri-Cities, Wash. will have a powerful new tool to use as part of their curriculum in the coming school year. The teachers who are from the Pasco, Richland and Kennewick school districts, recently completed training on how to use and teach with portable scanning electron microscopes (SEM) in their classrooms. Once trained, these teachers will use the SEM during their lessons and students can use them for their science fair projects.

Martha Mather is a life sciences teacher at Horse Heaven Hills Middle School in Kennewick. Mather spent the week of July 20 being trained how to use the SEM. She wanted to attend the training in order to enhance her own understanding of SEM technology. Mather says the opportunity to use a SEM in her classroom is phenomenal, since a SEM has the ability to magnify objects up to 300,000 times the size of the object being studied.

“We do have compound light microscopes and the kids love that unit, and every year they say ‘how do they know about this, or why can’t we see that,’ and we tell them ‘we need a better tool to do that.’” As Mather points to the SEM she says, “Now this year we can, since we have a better tool to use.”

During the week of training, the teachers prepared samples for viewing under the SEM, and developed lesson plans. With training, completed, the teachers are now cleared to have the SEM brought to their school for use in their classrooms.

The SEM training is part of an effort by Heritage University and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, with funding from Battelle Corporate Contributions, to bring Project Nano to the Tri-Cities. Project Nano is seen as a unique and fun program that addresses several key themes in science, technology engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.  Sherry Cady, a chief scientist at PNNL and affiliated faculty at Heritage, says the goal of Project Nano is to use the advanced technology to stir up interest in science among middle school students.

“By peaking the students’ curiosity about the world around them with sophisticated technology that operates with a touchscreen, students quickly realize they can study objects and processes that are typically presented as abstract concepts,” says Cady. “After all, most students have more fun learning about science by doing it with cool technology.”

Cady hopes students’ exposure to STEM studies may encourage them to pursue academic careers and workforce opportunities in STEM. As for Mather, she can’t wait to start the next school in order to bring the SEM to her class.

“My students will love it,” she says.

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