Sunday, February 22, 2009

by any other name

What is nanoscience? Is it different from nanotechnology? Is it chemistry? Many chemists do think that nanoscience is another word for molecular chemistry. However, there are many who would argue that definition (including the physicists, mechanical engineers, chemical engineers, bioengineers working in nanotechnology). Is molecular physics also nanoscience?

Here is the interesting issue about nanoscience and nanotechnology. Kids tend to think it is cool. Or at least they don't associate it with words like chemistry and physics - words that they tend to have very negative feelings about. Scientists and chemists in particular are often the bad guys in movies (e.g. Batman).

What difference does the name make? Do kids seek out nano-related activities over more traditionally named activities? Is this just rebranding of the same old science or is it something new? Can we make nanoscience something different? The physical sciences with real and currently developing applications that can positively impact human and environmental health? Could it be a course that is taught using inquiry based pedagogy w/o a lot of the baggage that other science courses have to carry around (rules and rote memorization)?