Nanoscale Science and Technology Resources for Community Teaching



Program Type:


Participation Details:

  • Volunteers are needed for this program
  • Participation is limited:
    Curently for students at Booker T. Washington School in Champaign.


No address has been specified


Parent Program(s):

  • Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory



Content Area(s):


Since 2014 Illinois graduate students have been sharing their expertise in nanotechnology with Booker T. Washington STEM Academy (BTW) 3rd graders as a part of a student-created/student-led outreach program called NanoSTRuCT (Nanoscale Science and Technology Resources for Community Teaching). The brain child of two Ph.D. students, Alex Cerjanic and Brittany Weida, NanoSTRuCT is partnering with BTW to do what its name suggests—teach the community (especially youngsters) about nanotechnology.

Since NanoSTRuCT has lots of bioengineers, fall 2014 outreach sessions at BTW emphasized biotechnology, and weekly visits each had a theme. For example, “Body as a Machine” looked at the body/organs as a coordinated system; then students discovered how the eye is like a camera by disassembling a digital camera to compare its components to an anatomical model of the eye. The “Blood-Pressure-Cuff" activity during the “Science of Medicine” session about how diseases are developed, diagnosed, and treated, taught students the importance of measuring blood pressure, what it means, and healthy strategies to lower blood pressure. The 3rd graders learned how scientists model organ systems and miniaturize laboratory diagnostics in the Lab/Organ-on-a-Chip lesson. The final lesson emphasized Tissue Engineering (TE): stem cells, scaffolds, breakthroughs and challenges in TE, and the Tissue-Engineered pancreas.

Spring 2015 lessons emphasized nanotechnology: electroplating, fabrication, copper-plated nickels, and fabricating self-assembly alginate molecules.

While the bulk of NanoSTRuCT’s volunteers are from the CMMB IGERT and M-CNTC training grant, Weida and Cerjanic have recruited students with a STEM focus across a broad range of STEM disciplines: Engineering (BioE, Mechanical, Electrical, and Chemical), Chemistry, Biochemistry, Neuroscience, and Pathobiology, plus a VetMed student and a couple in the Medical Scholars program.

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