College of Science brings high school teachers to campus for nanoscience lessons, experiments
July 3, 2019
The Virginia Tech College of Science recently hosted 16 high school science teachers from across Virginia, Maryland, and Tennessee for three days of in-depth lab experiments and demonstrations centered on bringing nanoscience into the classroom.
The multiday camp was hosted by faculty and staff from the Academy of Integrated Science’s nanoscience degree program and included lab demonstrations, tours, and classroom lectures.
Among the lab experiments were sessions on making and exploring ferro fluids, or liquid iron, that can be manipulated using magnets and the creation of “ice” volcanoes using cross-linked polymer materials similiar to those used in diapers to absorb liquid.
Heading the sessions were Randy Heflin, leader of the nanoscience program and a professor in the Department of Physics, as well as the associate dean for research in the College of Science; Brenden Magill, a collegiate assistant professor of physics; Chixia Tian, a collegiate assistant professor with the Academy of Integrated Science; and Tonya Pruitt, administrator for Virginia Tech’s NanoEarth program, funded by the National Science Foundation and part of the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science.
Participating teachers each received $300 worth of lab supplies and teaching materials to take home to their high school. The three-day event was in-part funded with $10,000 support from the Virginia Space Grant Consortium. This marked the second year of the camp.
“Nanoscience is a field that cuts across pretty much every discipline of science and engineering, so we have teachers here from biology, chemistry, physics, and earth sciences, and we think we’re doing a good job of providing across all of those areas pieces of nanoscience that they can incorporate into their classes,” Heflin said. “It’s very exciting to bring in groups of teachers because by interacting with one teacher and giving them some tools to use back in the classroom, you end up eventually reaching hundreds of students.”
The College of Science’s nanoscience degree program is one of two like it in the nation, and it includes a new nanomedicine major. Later this summer, the college will host its seventh annual Nanocamp, which is geared toward high school students. Scheduled for the second week of August, the camp already is full.