Illustrating the invisible: engaging undergraduate engineers in explaining nanotechnology to the public through flash poetry

L Hayes, J Phair, C McCormac, M Marti-Villalba, P Papakonstantinou, J Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

A preliminary investigation of the merits of engaging undergraduate students in communicating the significance of nanotechnology to a lay audience was conducted. The remit is to create displays that could be directly handled by the general public and which demonstrate the main challenges faced by working at such small scales. The students were asked to compose poems which would be rendered on the micron scale on glass microscope slides by conventional photolithography and which would be indecipherable to the naked eye. The intention was to create a “magical” transition whereby the subsequent application of a magnifying glass by the handler would reveal the text and nature of the composition. Production of the microslide displays can be achieved through conventional photolithographic techniques, requiring modest outlay in terms of time and materials and thus being readily accessible to most engineering/physical science faculties. The practicalities of slide production and their utilisation as an out-reach tool to emphasize the micro-nano challenge is presented. In addition, the curricular issues and student response relating to the integration of the hybrid literary-engineering component as a complement to “Professional Skills” modules within a first year cohort is critically discussed.
LanguageEnglish
Pages12-15
JournalJournal of Science Education
Volume14
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2013

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title = "Illustrating the invisible: engaging undergraduate engineers in explaining nanotechnology to the public through flash poetry",
abstract = "A preliminary investigation of the merits of engaging undergraduate students in communicating the significance of nanotechnology to a lay audience was conducted. The remit is to create displays that could be directly handled by the general public and which demonstrate the main challenges faced by working at such small scales. The students were asked to compose poems which would be rendered on the micron scale on glass microscope slides by conventional photolithography and which would be indecipherable to the naked eye. The intention was to create a “magical” transition whereby the subsequent application of a magnifying glass by the handler would reveal the text and nature of the composition. Production of the microslide displays can be achieved through conventional photolithographic techniques, requiring modest outlay in terms of time and materials and thus being readily accessible to most engineering/physical science faculties. The practicalities of slide production and their utilisation as an out-reach tool to emphasize the micro-nano challenge is presented. In addition, the curricular issues and student response relating to the integration of the hybrid literary-engineering component as a complement to “Professional Skills” modules within a first year cohort is critically discussed.",
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Illustrating the invisible: engaging undergraduate engineers in explaining nanotechnology to the public through flash poetry. / Hayes, L; Phair, J; McCormac, C; Marti-Villalba, M; Papakonstantinou, P; Davis, J.

In: Journal of Science Education, Vol. 14, 31.01.2013, p. 12-15.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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AB - A preliminary investigation of the merits of engaging undergraduate students in communicating the significance of nanotechnology to a lay audience was conducted. The remit is to create displays that could be directly handled by the general public and which demonstrate the main challenges faced by working at such small scales. The students were asked to compose poems which would be rendered on the micron scale on glass microscope slides by conventional photolithography and which would be indecipherable to the naked eye. The intention was to create a “magical” transition whereby the subsequent application of a magnifying glass by the handler would reveal the text and nature of the composition. Production of the microslide displays can be achieved through conventional photolithographic techniques, requiring modest outlay in terms of time and materials and thus being readily accessible to most engineering/physical science faculties. The practicalities of slide production and their utilisation as an out-reach tool to emphasize the micro-nano challenge is presented. In addition, the curricular issues and student response relating to the integration of the hybrid literary-engineering component as a complement to “Professional Skills” modules within a first year cohort is critically discussed.

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