New Perspectives in Science Education

Edition 12

Accepted Abstracts

A Guided Learning Introductory Course on Nanotechnology for Secondary Schools

Nicolai Ter Horst, Department of Chemistry Education, Georg-August-University Göttingen (Germany)

Timm Wilke, Georg-August-University Göttingen, Department of Chemistry Education (Germany)

Thomas Waitz, Department of Chemistry Didactics, Georg-August-University Göttingen (Germany)


Nanomaterials are objects of intensive research in different scientific domains and often called the future technology of the 21st century. Due to its interdisciplinary character, nanotechnology combines features of the classic sciences biology, chemistry and physics. It can already be found in a lot of everyday products. For example, nanoscaled particles are in ketchup, socks and hard drives [1]. Thus, it seems important that today’s students become more familiar with this topic.

In order to introduce the topic in school chemistry education contexts and to provide science teachers, who are mostly unaware of this topic, with teaching materials, a teaching unit on nanotechnology has been developed. The unit has been constructed based on a Guided Learning Concept [2]. Hereby, the teacher serves as a moderator, structuring the lessons and helping the students if any problems arise. It is accompanied by a study book, which contains all the information and tasks needed to participate in it, allowing the students to learn about “nano” by themselves and at their own pace [3]. It was designed for chemistry lessons in secondary schools referring on educational standards of the regular curriculum. Apart from theoretical aspects, the unit includes experiments with zinc oxide nanoparticles on e.g. fluorescence and photocatalysis [4].

The unit is divided into four sub-units. The first sub-unit deals with the definition, the size and the specific surface-to-volume-ratio of nanoparticles. The content of the second sub-unit is the production of nanomaterials and nanoparticles. It also addresses special effects of materials on the nanometer scale such as the quantum-sized effect, which can be shown by the dissimilar fluorescence of differently-sized zinc oxide nanoparticles [5]. The third sub-unit deals with the properties and application of nanomaterials. Especially their industrial usage in modifying surfaces to hydrophobic, hydrophilic and photocatalytic surfaces is shown. Finally, the last sub-unit encourages the students to critically reflect the use of nanotechnology using a web-based research assignment [6].

This unit has been conducted in two different classes in secondary schools. The results of an evaluation done after completion of the teaching unit will be also presented in the paper.

[1] G. Schmid, Nanoparticles: From theory to application, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim 2004. [2] B. Rogoff, Apprenticeship in thinking: Cognitive development in social context, Oxford University Press, New York 1990. [3] M. Boekaerts, Learning and Instruction 1997, 7 (2), 161. [4] A. Steinkuhle, Synthese und Charakterisierung von Zinkoxid Nanopartikeln für Schulexperimente, Bachelorarbeit, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen 2013. [5] Y. Lv et al., Nanotechnology 2013, 24 (17), 175702. [6] B. Dodge, Some Thoughts About WebQuests, San Diego, 1995.

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