nanoK12 Lesson Plans Developed at Valparaiso University

Valparaiso University faculty and undergraduate engineering students have worked collaboratively to develop more than thirty hours of lessons on nanotechnology for elementary and secondary students. Teching techniques vary and include movies, stories, student demonstrations, and manipulatives. Group design projects are incorporated to build teamwork and develop communication between the students. The lessons are listed below.


What is Nanotechnology and why should I care?

The whole World is talking about nanotechnology. Are you? Are you talking to your kids about it, too?


Semiconductor Physics

Semiconductors are one of the most important uses of nanotechnology today. Spiders are spider webs provide the perfect analogy for students as they learn how semiconducting materials differ from conductors and insulators.



The World makes 10,000,000,000,000,000,000 (yes, that 10 quintillion) of these electronic components each year, and most of them are nanoscale devices. That is 10,000 transistors for every ant on earth. Magnets and light switches provide a great introduction to how transistors work.


Digital Logic

Logic gates made of nanoscale devices can be used to build computer, cell phones, and televisions. Choose your own adventure stories provide a great introduction to the concepts of digital logic.


Quantization of Energy and Matter

Sometimes you try to cut things in half, and you get two halves. Sometimes you get nowhere. Find out how Legos can be used to introduce the concept of quantization of energy and matter.


One, Two, and Three Dimension Objects

We live in a 3-dimensional World (length, width, and height). Some nanoscale devices are so small, they are practically 2-dimensional (think of a very think sheet of paper) or 1-dimensional (like a very skinny string). Legos are useful to help illustrate these ideas.


Nanoscale Electric Circuits

Find out what you can build with nanoscale components. Find out what are the 3 basic building blocks you can find in every computer.


Quantum Wells

Have you ever been stuck in a rut? How about a ditch? Imagine being stuck in a ditch so small that the only thing you can see are the atoms around you.


Single Electron Memories

From computers, cell phones, digital cameras, and music players all use nanoscale devices to save information in memory circuits. Find out how small we may be able to make these device some day. It is kind of like playing hid and seek with individual electrons.


Ohm's Law

Georg Simon Ohm wrote the most important rule of how we study electricity. Find out why it is important almost 200 years later.



One of the latest nanoscale devices which may someday revolutionize computer memory. These components where hypothesized 50 year before they were first created. Grab a plumber's Wrench and discover how they work.



World leaders want it, and we try not to waste it. Find out how nanoscale devices try spend and save it all at the same time.


What Will Your Nanorobot Be?

Explore the exciting game of what if and find out what tomorrow's nanoscale robots may do.


Scanning Tunneling Electron Microscopes

Have you ever looked at a topographic map? You are half way toward learning how a scanning tunneling electron microscope works.


Atomic Force Microscopy

How small of a ball can you pick up? Have you ever picked up an atom? Find out how we can feel our way around the world of the nanoscale.