NanoExplora: Explore the smallest world

NanoExplora offers teachers a set of resources, experiences and teaching proposals based on characteristics and phenomena typical of nanoscience and nanotechnology. It has been designed as an alternative way of teaching the particle model of matter, and is mainly aimed at students between 10 and 14 years old.

The project focuses on the following aspects:

  • Didactic and curricular material: the current curriculum in Catalonia states a group of competences and contents to be achieved in relation to socio-technological evolution and scientific knowledge. In relation to the particle model of matter, a new map of learning progress is proposed, and, with the help of a teacher, will allow students to ask themselves research questions, to reason predictions, and to propose research activities
  • Educational kit: a kit with teaching materials and experimental activities has been designed and produced to work on the main characteristics of nanoscience and nanotechnology
  • NanoExplora web: the virtual space complements the material of the kit, and gathers the theoretical and pedagogical foundations of the proposal, as well as resources and guidance for teachers when implementing the project.

Basic information

Country: Spain

Coordinator: CESIRE, https://agora.xtec.cat/cesire/

Programme: National

Project Acronym:

Target groups: primary school students, secondary school students, teachers

Topic: Chemistry, Materials science, Nanotechnology, Physics, Education

Start year: 2018

End year: 2020

Url: https://blocs.xtec.cat/cesirenanotecnologia/

Contact person: Julio Pérez, cesire (at) xtec.cat

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The NanoExplora project is organised into five main thematic areas, each of which includes a number of activities. The material to carry out these activities is integrated into a teaching kit (NanoExplora kit), designed and produced by CESIRE, which is available to teachers through CESIRE's loan service. The NanoExplora web environment complements this material, and gathers the theoretical and pedagogical foundations of the proposal, as well as more resources and guidance for teachers when implementing the activities of the kit.

The five main areas of work are:

  • An Invisible World: The properties of materials can be explained based on their structure, that is, how they are and how the particles that make up them are arranged. These structures can only be seen with nanotechnology tools. In this activity you can get an idea of what the nano scale is.
  • Smaller but larger...: The difference in properties due to the size of the nanoparticles can be explained by the increase in surface area relative to volume, the different interaction between light and particles of different sizes, and the predominant effect of forces between particles versus other forces such as gravity. The proposed activities will allow students to simulate these effects.
  • Astonishing possibilities: Nanotechnology provides us with properties and characteristics that allow us to obtain amazing products and applications. For example, thanks to nanoparticles such as TiO2 or SiO2 we can obtain self-cleaning surfaces or T-shirts that do not get wet, through the phenomenon of superhydrophobicity. Other applications such as more efficient sun creams in the cosmetic industry or the creation of carbon nanotube filters for water treatment can also be found.
  • Taking decisions: Nano materials are becoming more and more present in our daily lives. They do have advantages, but they must be used responsibly and taking into account the balance between benefits and risks. As there is a lack of studies of long-term effects or legislation adapted to this new knowledge and technology, it will be necessary to use scientific and social knowledge to become responsible consumers and critical citizens.
  • And now it's up to you! In collaboration with the Nanoinventum project, students are challenged to design a nanorobot that can solve some current problem.

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