Reviewed by Cary Seidman
Nanotechnology is the next major scientific revolution, and this book is an extraordinarily appropriate springboard into the field. This book delivers on its stated goal, encouraging understanding through activities that show the properties of materials at the nanoscale---structures that exist and events that take place at distances one billionth the length of a meter.
The authors have arranged their presentation of nanotechnology around the basic themes of scale, tools and techniques, unique properties, applications, and societal implications. The book begins with an activity in which students analyze what they already know about nanotechnology and concludes with two activities that deal with the effects of nanotechnology on society in terms of privacy rights and environmental implications.
The book has 20 investigations that can enrich several existing curricular areas with timely, activity-based lessons. Chemistry explorations include absorbency, stain resistance, and the “lotus effect” (in which technology closely resembles specific properties of living materials). However, the activities in this book will also be appropriate for the study of other major science and mathematics concepts. The authors have also skillfully developed investigations into the concepts of scale. Students will gain insight into the meaning of the large and small numbers that accompany the study of nanotechnology. Biology teachers will find the chapter on viruses to be a vehicle through which students can make concrete, three-dimensional sense out of a topic that is often presented as an abstraction without a hands-on component.
Throughout the book, the frequent use of model building makes these activities appealing and productive, as student-constructed models will not only serve to teach fundamental concepts but also will reinforce the basic themes of the activity. There are thorough background sections for teachers, reproducible sheets for students, and a bibliography for further study. Materials needed for the lab exercises are, for the most part, easily available. The instructions, explanations, and assessments are thorough and accessible.
Review posted on 5/11/2007