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Applications Activity: Nanoarchitecture

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Audience: Middle school class
Time Needed: Two days
Day 1: 30 minutes (pre-activities)
Day 2: 45-90 minutes; modular format allows you to adjust time

Activity Description:

Atoms are the building blocks of everything around us - including ourselves! Students will explore how the properties of materials change when atoms are connected in different ways. This concept will be explored when students investigate four forms of the element Carbon: diamond, graphite, buckyballs, and nanotubes. Carbon can form the hardest natural material known on earth, diamond, and it can also form one of the softest materials, graphite. The properties of each material change as the arrangement of atoms changes. When carbon atoms form tiny tubes, called carbon nanotubes, the tubes are twice as strong as steel but weigh six times less!

  • Be introduced to the four forms of carbon, including two new forms of carbon, fullerenes and nanotubes
  • Be able to relate atomic and molecular structure to the properties of a material
Activity Materials:
  • Day 1
    • Pre-Activity supplemental power point transparencies
    • "Yes" and "No" signs and a set of letters that spells
    • "carbon" for each team of 3-4 students
    • A small prize for each team
  • Day 2
    • Pictures or plastic models of the atomic structure of the four forms of carbon
    • Mirrors, paper, pencils, and diamond scribe tips
    • Team worksheets and their accompanying materials:
      Friction Worksheet: balance, balls, shoe box, weight
      Fullerene Worksheet: model pieces, posterboard
      Nanotube Worksheet: nanotube papers, nanotube pencils
      Strong Man Worksheet: paper, brick
    • Posterboard or large sheets of paper and markers
Supplemental Materials:

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