Institute for Advanced Learning and Research receives grant to support opportunities in nanotechnology

DANVILLE, Va., Aug. 5, 2008 – Virginia Tech's Institute for Advanced Learning and Research has received a $191,593 Congressionally-directed grant from the U.S. Department of Education to support professional development opportunities for area teachers in the field of nanotechnology.

The grant, “NanoScIEnce (NanoScience Instruction for Educators): It’s No Small Thing” provides funding for the institute to coordinate nanotechnology-themed workshops, seminars, summer academies, and a multi-state conference to train teachers as “best practice” experts so that their kindergarten through grade 12 students are exposed to the emerging science of nanotechnology .

According to the institute’s Julie Brown, “[The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research] is excited to offer these professional development experiences for our area teachers. It is critical that our students have early and consistent exposure to emerging science and technology fields if they are to be competitive in the 21st century knowledge-based economy.” Brown, who serves as the director of academic and outreach programs, noted that the United States Department of Education is financing 100 percent of the project costs.

"Nanotechnology is an emerging science that offers great promise, such as the work being done at Luna in Danville," said Goode. "I am glad that I was able to help secure this grant for the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research so that teachers in the Danville area can become best-practice experts in the field of nanotechnology and prepare their students for the possibility of pursuing careers in this area of the 21st century economy.”

During the sixteen-month project, which gets underway September 2008, the institute will work collaboratively with Northwestern University’s Materials World Modules program, the University of Virginia, the Pennsylvania State University, and Virginia Tech, along with other nationally-recognized nanoscience experts, to create a comprehensive teacher training program. The goal of the project is to provide more than 200 teachers with hands-on nanotechnology experiences they can incorporate into their lesson plans to reach students across multiple grade levels.

Nanotechnology, which deals with matter at the molecular (nano) scale, is an emerging multi-disciplinary field that’s expected to create over 800,000 jobs in the United States in less than ten years. By 2015, the nano-economy world market is estimated to be $1 trillion with United States jobs in the field ranging from 800,000 to 900,000.

For more information about the NanoScIEnce project, e-mail Julie Brown or call (434) 766-6711.

This article was written by Deborah Morehead.