Nanotechnology Education: Contemporary Content and Approaches by ProQuest


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									Nanotechnology Education:
Contemporary Content and Approaches                                                                                      3

                                                                                                             The Journal of Technology Studies
Jeremy V. Ernst

Abstract                                               nology will guide a key transformation with a
      Nanotechnology is a multidisciplinary field      significant impact on society (Mnyusiwalla,
of research and development identified as a major      Daar, & Singer, 2003).
priority in the United States. Progress in science
and engineering at the nanoscale is critical for            Although there has been a steady growth in
national security, prosperity of the economy, and      global nanotechnology, this dominating trend is
enhancement of the quality of life. It is anticipat-   especially true for the United States. The
ed that nanotechnology will be a major transition-     National Academies (2006) indicates that 33
al force that possesses the potential to change        percent of all nanotechnology patents awarded
society. Rapid and continued advancement in the        from 1990 to 2004 were granted to researchers
field of nanotechnology is accelerating the            in the United States. Japan was second, with 19
demand for specific professional knowledge and         percent of the worldwide patents during the
skill. These lines of technological discovery and      same period of time.
improvement continue to unlock new content
for classroom incorporation.                                Shelley (2006) indicates that determined
                                                       research and development for targeted
     Contemporary approaches and practices to          nanoscience and nanotechnology has resulted in
further engage learners and enhance their abili-       discovery and application now culminating in
ties to apply nanoscale-related content knowl-         marketable products and new commercial appli-
edge must be continually developed in order for        cations. As more products (e.g., sunscreens,
the United States to solidify itself as the primary    cosmetics, clothing, upholstery, paint, bodywork
builder of nanotechnology research and develop-        of vehicles, computer components) utilize nan-
ment. Steadfast development of new technolo-           otechnologies, it is only a matter of time until
gies leading to continual transformation of soci-      nanotechnology infiltrates consumer products
ety serves as a strong indicator that current edu-     holistically. Shelley (2006) further identifies the
cational practices should be altered in order to       limitless possibilities that applying nanotechnol-
prepare knowledgeable and engaged citizens.            ogy presents. He asserts that the span and reach
The use of three-dimensional graphics, virtual         of nanotechnology should become and remain a
reality, virtual modeling, visualizations, and         primary consideration not only in government
other information and communication technolo-          and commerce but also in education. This con-
gies can assist in reinforcing nano-associated         sideration stems from nanotechnology’s applica-
scientific and technological concepts.                 tion to energy, medical, and information tech-
                                                       nology, which are both essential and developing
Introduction                                           components of today’s society. The purpose of
     High-level content of pressing importance         this article is to introduce nanotechnology/nan-
addressed through contemporary approaches is           otechnology education, its societal and econom-
an identified necessity in educational systems.        ic significance and its importance as an area of
Development and innovation are critical compo-         study. Also provided are examples and recom-
nents of education in the United States; they          mendations on the implementation of nanotech-
promote the maturity of an educated, skilled, and      nology into teacher-preparation programs.
creative general public. Emerging technologies,
such as medical technologies, biotechnologies,         Literature Review
and especially nanotechnologies represent pros-             The National Aeronautics and Space
perous areas for the workforce and the economy,        Administration (as cited in Mnyusiwalla, Daar,
and therefore, they can be a driving force in          & Singer, 2003) identifies the field of nanotech-
career and technical education. According to           nology as focusing on the formation of purpose-
trend analysis, the future will be largely domi-       ful materials, devices, and systems through t
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