Contextualising nanotechnology in chemistry education

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Christine O’Connor and Hugh Hayden


In recent years nanotechnology has become part of the content of many undergraduate chemistry and physics degree courses. This paper deals with the role of contextualisation of nanotechnology in the delivery of the content, as nanotechnology is only now being slowly integrated into many chemistry degree courses in Ireland and elsewhere. An evaluative methodology of the pedagogical approach for two introductory nanotechnology courses has been chosen for this study. Pre and post-course testing at 2nd year level (Case study A) and 4th year level (Case study B) has been carried out, 80 % of students in case study A and 64 % in case study B felt that they had little or no prior knowledge of nanotechnology before the courses were delivered. The students were very interested in learning about nanotechnology and enjoyed its futuristic concepts. They recognised that nanotechnology is an enabling technology, and when surveyed, considered the biomedical applications of most interest.