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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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