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Education and Outreach: Bringing Nanotechnology into the High School Classroom

The Cornell NSEC program has established a major new K-12 outreach activity, The Center for Nanoscale Systems Institute for Physics Teachers (CIPT). CIPT is designed to update high school teachers on recent advances in physics, with an emphasis on nanotechnology, and to provide participants with take-home laboratory exercises on this subject for their classrooms. Last year nearly 170 teachers attended at least one CIPT workshop, and teachers have come from every corner of the state of New York, where initial outreach efforts have been concentrated (see map above). Teacher Robert Meek from a small community 40 miles outside Buffalo is pictured below making a gold nanowire. Because gold is very malleable, a thin bridge of gold atoms forms between two pieces that are being pulled apart, similar to pulling taffy. By monitoring the electrical resistance of the contact, sometimes a single chain of gold atoms can be observed—the smallest possible wire! Each summer CIPT will offer three weeks of intensive classes to high school teachers, and this year’s class is already oversubscribed.

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