Nanoscale and energy are two important areas of current science and engineering research that are well placed to make connections between research and everyday life. The collaboration between scientists and educators has given researchers in the Kansas NSF EPSCoR-funded project, Nanotechnology for Renewable Energy, the opportunity to enhance their knowledge of educational research and practices, specifically in informal science education.
Creating informative, engaging and challenging educational experiences are effective at enhancing science knowledge and understanding, as well as generating interest in science subjects and careers. The resources developed as part of this project have engaged youth, teachers and parents, as well as the broader general public with these important science ideas through hands-on programming and extensive online material. These experiences build capacity with everyone involved in terms of their content knowledge related to nanoscale, energy and related topics, and scientists’ understanding of informal science education.
The goals of creating these opportunities were to provide challenging and engaging science education experiences that introduce core ideas about nanoscale, matter and energy. The diverse activities developed to meet these goals have successfully reached out to both youth and adult participants, and their audience continues to grow.
How Small is Small explores size and scale, where 2nd through 6th graders discover what are the smallest things in the universe are and how small they are. The new Cartoon Guide to Energy hands-on program for elementary and middle school groups that use classic cartoon scenarios to explore how fundamental forces and properties of matter build a framework for thinking about energy across its different contexts. Science Shorts is a set of four mini animated videos about solar energy and electricity. It has now had more than 20,000 views (logo and screen shots above). Photon Invaders, an online game about solar cells is now available as an Android app. Another game that explores how electrical charges work has been created (Eddie’s Obstacle Course) and the app version was recently released (screen shots above).Quarked! Adventures in the Subatomic Universe (www.quarked.org) is a website that introduces kids ages 7 and up, and their families and teachers to the exciting world of particle physics. It continues to have visitors from more than 60 countries, with more than 72,000 unique visits in 2012.
For more information about these museum offerings please visit http://naturalhistory.ku.edu/education.
The museum has developed some awesome refrigerator magnets and temporary tatoos of these characters that are fun for all ages.