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Home > Nanotechnology Columns > UAlbany College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering > CNSE's Multi-level Programs that Encourage Science Awareness

Diana Martin
Manager, Strategic and Educational Outreach
UAlbany- College of Nanoscale Science & Engineering

Abstract:
CNSE is firmly committed to raising awareness of the benefits of nanotechnology through a wide array of innovative programs, events and activities that have a significant impact on schoolchildren, the surrounding community, the State of New York and beyond.

May 28th, 2008

CNSE's Multi-level Programs that Encourage Science Awareness

New York State has experienced significant high-tech growth in recent years, attracting the innovative technologies, companies and individuals that will fuel our economy for years to come. The College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) of the University at Albany has been one of the key drivers of this economic expansion, partnering with industry leaders and offering students a one-of-a-kind academic experience. CNSE's Albany NanoTech complex - a $4.2 billion megaplex that has attracted over 250 global corporate partners - is the most advanced research complex of its kind at any university in the world.

With this burgeoning development comes the need for a workforce that is able to compete in the rapidly changing world of technology. Unfortunately, a looming shortage of qualified scientific and engineering personnel exists across the nation, one that is expected to continue for the foreseeable future, despite the cyclical history of the industry.

If the United States is to remain an economic leader and maintain its competitive advantage in the new global economy of the 21st century, we must prepare our students with the skills needed to compete. Moreover, it is critical to spark interest and excitement in America's youth: we must nurture and develop the sense of creative innovation for which our country has long been known.

CNSE is firmly committed to raising awareness of the benefits of nanotechnology through a wide array of innovative programs, events and activities that have a significant impact on schoolchildren, the surrounding community, the State of New York and beyond. CNSE conducts multi-level programs that encourage science awareness to help ensure the U.S. science and technology workforce of the future.

One such example is CNSE's quarterly NanoCareer Day, which introduces middle- and high-school students to the exciting world of nanotechnology. Throughout the day, CNSE hosts groups of students from schools across the state, who participate in presentations and interactive tours of CNSE's Albany NanoTech complex, guided by members of CNSE's world-class faculty. Each tour includes hands-on activities in which students actively learn about various topics related to nanotechnology. Students are frequently amazed by how often nanotechnology touches their everyday lives.

In addition to on-site tours and programs, CNSE has worked closely with the City School District of Albany (CSDA) in creating the groundbreaking NanoHigh program, which is believed to be the first of its kind at a public school anywhere in the country.

NanoHigh is an educational program designed to increase students' knowledge of the emerging nanotechnology industry and the career prospects it offers. NanoHigh offers students an unprecedented opportunity to study the emerging field of nanotechnology through two courses that combine classroom learning at Albany High School with monthly on-site visits to CNSE for in-depth lab activities. This structure facilitates the complementary integration of classroom and laboratory learning and highlights "concept-to-practice" connections.

Each lab activity at CNSE highlights specific links to fundamental chemistry, physics, biology and mathematics presented during the class sessions at Albany High. Leveraging CNSE's wide network of partner companies, students are also introduced to the exciting and varied career paths in nanoscale science, nanoscale engineering, and nanotechnology.

NanoHigh was created by CNSE and CSDA to enhance students' opportunities to take advantage of new nanotechnology-related careers being created in the Capital Region and around the globe. Based on the success of the initial classes, the district plans to add an advanced nanoscience class next year, as well as middle school nanotechnology instruction.

In addition to NanoHigh, CNSE is partnering with five Capital Area school districts in August 2008 to present the Excelsior Scholars Nanoscale Science Summer Institute, which will provide a one-of-kind, hands-on opportunity for seventh grade students to take part in advanced academic coursework that incorporates cutting-edge nanoscale science research and is well aligned with New York State learning standards.

The overall goal of both NanoHigh and the Excelsior Scholars program is to provide students with a foundational understanding of the fundamentals and applications of nanoscale science through a groundbreaking, classroom-based nanoscience curriculum developed at Albany High School and integrated with cutting-edge lab activites at CNSE.

With the success of NanoHigh, CNSE recently held the region's first-ever NanoEducation Summit for school superintendents, administrators and teachers. With more than 100 educators from over 35 New York State school districts represented, discussion focused on ways to implement nanotechnology awareness and learning at the middle and high-school level. As a result, CNSE is now engaged in discussions with a number of local schools seeking to partner and implement nanotechnology learning in existing coursework that meets New York State learning standards.

The faculty, staff and graduate students at CNSE take great pride in providing access to state-of-the-art facilities and a world-class team in an effort to educate the youngest members of our community. CNSE's educational outreach programming will inspire students to pursue careers in science and technology, creating the innovative workforce that is critical to our future on a regional, statewide and national scale.

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