November 15, 2007

"NanoHigh" In Session

By: by Erin Billups, News Channel 9


ALBANY, N.Y. -- The technology is a part of their everyday life -- in cell phone and iPod nanos -- so it seems to make sense, teaching students here in the Capital Region about nanotechnology while they're still in grade school. And in the long run, administrators hope it keeps students in the area.

Thirty students from Albany High and Meyers Middle School walked through the doors of UAlbany's NanoTech Complex, excited to learn. It's the pilot semester of "NanoHigh," and so far, students like Tamara Walker say it's a hit.

Albany High senior Tamara Walker said, "Everybody knows what the periodic table looks like, but not everybody knows what gold looks like on the nanoscale. It's just stuff that's really new, it's happening now, you're learning about it right now."

They toured the clean room facility where nanotechnology is used to turn silicon wafers into tiny computer chips that can hold massive amounts of information, and they participated in a series of hands-on learning activities.

College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering Assistant Professor Michael Carpenter said, "The sooner we can get them excited about science, the more apt we'll be to capture students and bring them into science."

The new program not only opens their eyes to the new science, it shows students there's opportunity for innovative jobs here in the Capital Region -- and access to a school with the latest technology to train them.

In the long run, it's beginning the process of building a talent pool for the nanotechnology industry, locally.

Albany High Nanoscience and Physics teacher Jeff Beyer said, "One of our desires is that we energize the kids in the science and math field, and that way hope that they stay in the area. Bringing them here, hopefully we can get them into the SUNY system, or into local colleges as well."

Very few Albany High students stay in the area and attend UAlbany. Tamara, who wants to study engineering in undergrad, says it's nothing personal.

She said, "That's always just the main experience of going to college is going someplace different, experiencing something new."

But she says through this class she knows coming back to the region is a viable option.

She said, "I could always come back to Albany and do graduate school here in nanotechnology."

Based on the success of the initial classes, which started at the beginning of the semester, the district has decided to add an advanced nanoscience class next year and a related nanotechnology middle school class as well.