Partner Highlight: Children's Museum of Indianapolis

Christina Akers

Welcome to the Wonderful World of Teacher Workshops!

This January, seventeen middle school and pre-service teachers from around central Indiana descended upon The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis for the Museum’s first nano-infused teacher workshop. Armed with a curriculum of half-NISE Net/half-NSTA materials, Becky Wolfe and John McCollum engaged these teachers in the concepts of nanoscale science, engineering and technology.

Following the Indiana standards of education, Becky and John focused their agenda on atoms and molecules, building their workshop on the principles of:

  • Properties of matter
  • Arrangement of atoms
  • Atoms form molecules
  • Elements and compounds have specific properties

From this, they developed the Nano Workshop content based on the following themes:

  • What is nano?
  • Size and scale
  • Properties of atoms and molecules
  • Applications
  • Tools

To gauge their audience’s existing knowledge, the workshop started with a true/false questionnaire exploring “What is nano?” Then, using the four big ideas from NISE Net’s content map, Becky and John worked with participants to expand upon their individual base of knowledge and dive deeper into topics. They used models to demonstrate how matter acts on the nano scale, discussed how particle size can change behavior, used hands-on activities connected to topics such as self assembly, surface area, the lotus leaf effect, and the different forms of carbon, as well as examining applications such as nano fabrics, ferrofluids, and magic sand.

According to Becky and John, the teachers loved the content and NISE Net materials. In addition to creating learning and networking opportunities, the workshop brought more institutional awareness to Becky and John’s nano programming. New staff members from the children’s museum who attended the workshop left saying, “we GOTTA do more!”

After the workshop, evaluation data was collected through surveys from the teacher participants. These surveys contained multiple comments about how “knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and excited” Becky and John were about their material. Kudos to them for being such outstanding representatives of the NISE Net!

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