One of the inherent challenges of teaching any emerging technology like nanotechnology, is the fact that its core competencies flux in the new disciplines' early stages. Nanotechnology presents an additional challenge in that its underpinnings cross multiple traditional disciplinary boundaries. We have designed a course that aims to address some of these challenges through a handful of structural features: team-based learning; a "reverse of the learning pyramid" approach; team-teaching; embedded information literacy techniques; and application-centered content. Our course is organized around four applications that are in their developmental stages: gold nanoshells for cancer treatment; molecular manufacturing; tissue engineering of a vital organ; and a microfluidic glucose sensor. These applications provide natural contexts for learning biology at the cellular level, the molecular level, the organ level and the biological systems level, respectively. They also provide natural contexts to introduce ideas of scientific uncertainty in emerging fields. In this paper, we will present the design features of our sophomore-level course Nanotechnology, biology, ethics and society and some preliminary results.


Materials Science and Engineering

Publisher statement

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URL: http://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/mate_fac/103