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Trevor Thornton helps students measure objects in nanometers.

NanoFab at Arizona State University is expanding a  nanotechnology educational outreach introduction program aimed at introducing Arizona’s elementary school students to cool concepts in science and technology.

“Students are eager to learn more once they see how science and technology affects them in everyday life,” says Trevor Thornton, director of ASU NanoFab. “We are taking nanotechnology ideas that have been developed at the university and in industry into the classrooms to help open the doors to discovery.”

Thornton and JL Jackson, education outreach coordinator for the ASU NanoFab, have designed classroom materials illustrating the use of nanotechnology in today’s world by incorporating applications that children can relate to—from measuring classroom objects in nanometers to explaining the use of nanosilver to eliminate stinky socks.

This spring, they conducted in-classroom demonstrations at the Fountain Hills Charter School. They plan to expand the program to other elementary schools.

Funded by the National Science Foundation, the purpose of the project is to expose young people to advanced and exciting research in nanotechnology and motivate them to consider careers in the sciences or engineering.

“If you would ask any of our students prior to this curriculum being presented to our fourth graders what nanotechnology was, they simply would not know. But indeed, nanotechnology is very important to understanding the components that make up our universe,” says Michael Bashaw, district administrator of the Fountain Hills Charter School.

“I thought the program was very informative and the kids learned a lot and were really into it.  Dr. Thornton and JL Jackson have great visuals and examples that the kids could really relate to.  We can’t wait to have them back next year,” says fourth grade teacher, Carmen Feeny.

Thornton adds, “The National Science Foundation supports research and development of nanotechnology through the National Nanofabrication Infrastructure Network, which places significant emphasis on educational and public outreach activities.  The interest from the elementary school children has been tremendous.  We are excited to expand this program across the state.”

The ASU NanoFab manages a variety of advanced laboratories for Nanotechnology research and development. The facilities are available to academic and industrial users through the NSF supported NNIN. See for more details.

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