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Nanotechnology at the MathScience Innovation Center

The MathScience Innovation Center recently launched a new and exciting initiative on the Big Ideas of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology for grades 6-12. The Center staff predicts that the enthusiasm over Nanoscience and Nanotechnology will go from the launch at the Center to our schools and students, and even into our homes. Soon everyone will be thinking about Big Ideas on the Nanoscale.

It has been more than fifty years since Richard Feynman, in his famous address, “Plenty of Room at the Bottom,” imagined a science where researchers and engineers could achieve remarkable feats by manipulating matter and creating structures all the way down to the level of individual atoms. Since then, scientists and engineers have developed tools and instruments allowing them to “see the unseen.”

The fields of nanoscience and nontechnology are moving rapidly to the forefront of research as scientists explore the world of matter at the nanoscale and its potential for revolutionizing engineering, medicine, environmental science, materials science, and more. Lisa Friedersdorf, Managing Director of the nanoSTAR Institute at the University of Virginia, is excited about what nanotechnology means for us in the future because “we are going to be using the novel properties of these materials for entirely new things- things like using nanoparticles to detect and treat cancer at the individual cellular level.” 

Why is it important for our young people to study on the nanoscale?
Daphne Schmidt
, Assistant Coordinator of K-12 Special Programs at the MathScience Innovation Center and Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Project Co-Leader tells us we must prepare our students,

to be not only consumers of scientific and technological advances, but also leaders in the research and development of these new technologies. As leaders in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education, it is vitally important that we prepare our students for the global technology needs of the future by making nanoscale concepts an integral part of their math and science curricula.”

To accomplish this goal, the MathScience Innovation Center’s Nanoscience and Nanotechnology initiative is a comprehensive approach to the subject and includes a full curriculum framework, instructional materials, training for teachers and students, and a new website currently under development – All of the materials are based on the Big Ideas of Nanoscale Science and Engineering by the National Science Teachers Association and include topics such as size and scale, the structure of matter, Quantum effects, and self-assembly to name only a few.

For more information on the Big Ideas of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology for grades 6-12 go to or contact Daphne Schmidt at

Watch this CBS News story and video about a California High School Student who is using nanoparticles to develop a potential cure for cancer.

Nanooze is another great resource for nanotechnology information and games for kids.

Article by: Debbie Mickle, Science Matters Project Manager