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Powers of Ten From Meters to Nanometers and Beyond Rob Snyder and Mort Sternheim July 2011

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Go Down the Powers of Tens Scale Use a variety of instruments to collect data about progressively smaller dimensions. Use scientific notation to describe and compare dimensions. Compare measurements with the dimensions of nanoscale structures.

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A Powers of Ten Data Table has room for 14 progressively smaller measurements or calculations The measurementMetersCentimetersNanometers X 10 0 X 10 2 X 10 9 X 10 0 The first challenge is to determine how many rows of data can be filled using the available measurement instruments. The second challenge is to provide entries for remaining row and record data in the nanoscale and subnanoscale rows.

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Common items can be used to enter data on the Powers of Ten Data Table. Magnifiers help obtain the last significant digit in a measurement.

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A USB microscope can be used to measure the openings in coffee filters and sizes of coffee grounds so that measurements can be recorded on the data table. Students learn how to calibrate a measurement that utilizes imaging technology.

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Spectrometers can be used to add more data. Students may notice wavelengths of visible light approach the nanoscale realm.

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The student activity document provides descriptions of structures that have dimensions smaller than the wavelengths of visible light. That information can be used to provide a complete set of data.

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The activity document includes description of filters with openings as small as one nanometer. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080222095403.htm

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Students can learn that ions have a diameter smaller than a nanometer. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ionic_radiushttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ionic_radius A picometer (pm) = 1 x 10 -12 meters

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An activity adapted from Nanosense is available at several stations explores even smaller powers of ten. The activity –http://nanosense.org/activities/sizematters/sizean dscale/SM_Lesson2Teacher.pdfhttp://nanosense.org/activities/sizematters/sizean dscale/SM_Lesson2Teacher.pdf On STEM Ed web sites –www.umassk12.net/nano/Saturdaywww.umassk12.net/nano/Saturday Other useful nanoscience materials –http://nanosense.org/index.htmlhttp://nanosense.org/index.html

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How do we generate images of structures with nanoscale dimensions? Tomorrow, you will build a model that simulates measurements made with a device called an Atomic Force Microscope..

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A Few Questions How well does an activity like this develop a nanoscale perspective? Where can this type of activity be integrated into your STEM curriculum? What skills and perspectives developed during this activity support the study of other STEM topics?

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