Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Physics, Applied

First Advisor

Tejaswini Dalvi

Second Advisor

Matthew Bell

Third Advisor

Arthur Eisenkraft


Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (NST) is a booming multi-disciplinary field, with significant implications towards scientific and technological innovation. The growing reach of NST has created a demand for a skilled and scientifically literate workforce. However, NST is typically inaccessible outside of specialized contexts. Therefore, there is a need for bringing NST into the K-12 classroom.

In this study, we explored the use of technology-based NST modules to introduce middle and high school students to the field, wherein students unpacked an NST tool, the atomic force microscope (AFM), to learn about basic NST-related science concepts. The module created for this study was developed drawing from constructionist frameworks and the model of educational reconstruction (MER). MER is a cyclical process that requires educators to consider existing scientific content structures, student knowledge and ideas about a topic, as well as teacher perspectives when designing a meaningful learning experience that attends to student and teacher needs. MER can also have positive impact on teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) about a subject, bridging the gap between scientific content and facilitation.

We have designed, revised, and implemented an NST module for grade 8 over the course of two years. Student survey responses, classroom videos, individual and group student work, and teacher interviews were analyzed for recurring themes and significant changes between module implementations. Our results suggested that the process of constructing and reconstructing an NST learning experience made for meaningful modules, with students demonstrating increased understanding of the AFM and increased interest in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) as a whole after engagement with the module content. Interviews with the collaborating teacher suggest that being involved in the module development process may have impacted her PCK about NST. Based on our results, we can use of a technological tool to introduce students to a novel discipline. We also suggest the use of MER for NST module development.