March/April 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 6

NanoSpace Offers Teachers Fun, Interactive Games Designed to Increase Science Literacy

Posted: Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

by Patrice Harris

World-renowned professors and scientists from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, creators of The Molecularium® Project, have launched NanoSpace. This new website is designed to teach kids about the nanoscale world of atoms and molecules. Teachers will find that the virtual scientific amusement park offers them fun activities and games they can incorporate in the classroom.

Wondering how to do this? It’s easy. Just visit the “Guide to NanoSpace” (www.molecularium.com/educators.html). Here are just a few tips on how to incorporate NanoSpace activities in your classroom. Additional discovery-based lessons may also be downloaded from the website’s Educator Resources tab.

Periodic Table: Help students learn and remember the Periodic Table of Elements with the Periodic Memory game, a concentration style memory game where players flip over elements and match them to their location on the Periodic Table in a race against the clock. Divide your class into teams and see how far each team gets.

Microscopes: Use MicroLab to teach about different types of microscopes and magnification ranges. Students can use high powered virtual optical, electron and atomic probe microscopes to zoom in and investigate a wide range of specimens and materials, from flowers and insects to grains of pollen and nanotubes.

Molecular structures and formulas:  Demonstrate and reinforce the connection between molecular structures and formulas with Build’em, an interactive molecular building game. Project and build the first few molecules in the class to clearly illustrate how their chemical and structural formulas represent their structure and how their atoms are arranged. Rotating molecules in any direction as you build makes this a very useful tool for demonstrations. Have students build all of the molecules on their own in class or as homework.

“NanoSpace provides educators with interactive activities and games to supplement what they are teaching in the classroom,” Richard W. Siegel, Ph.D., Director of the Rensselaer Nanotechnology Center.” “When learning is fun, it increases a child’s capacity to absorb and retain knowledge,” he added.

Teachers are already witnessing firsthand how NanoSpace engages students and improves their ability to comprehend the information. “I found “NanoSpace – Molecules to the Max” to be both educational and entertaining. It introduced my 4th graders to the world of atoms and molecules through kid friendly characters; Oxy, Hydra, and Mel, the molecularium computer,” stated Laurie Brennan, a 4th grade science teacher from Lester Grove School, part of the Downers Grove District 58 in Illinois. She added, “The website is visually appealing to kids and uses 25 games in a virtual theme park. NanoSpace explained difficult concepts such as atoms, molecules, polymers and DNA at a level kids can understand. It’s a great resource and my students loved the website!”

A recent report by the President’s Council on Science and Technology estimates approximately 8.5 million STEM job openings will be available over the next decade. The Molecularium® Project and its NanoSpace program are helping to fill the forecasted gap of one million graduates during this time period who will not be qualified to fill these positions. These unique, online science resources are designed to supplement scarce school-based curricula and teach children through enjoyable interactions. The activities in NanoSpace teach and reinforce the National Science Education Standards, just as do all other Molecularium® Project programs. In addition to the Teachers Guides, which outline measurable goals related to these standards, free educator resources for the Molecularium® Project include lesson plans for grades K-4 and 5-8, crossword puzzles, songs, quizzes, printable posters, and more.

Research has proven that students retain more thorough knowledge of a concept through interactive learning. Independent analysts quizzed students before and after seeing Molecularium animations, and found that the core concepts were firmly grasped by young audiences. The percentage of correct answers for younger audiences more than doubled.

Thank you for teaching science and have a great school year!

Patrice Harris is a consultant with the Communication Strategies Group, Inc.

Written by Guest Contributor

From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.

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