Exploring the Nanoworld > Programs > IPSE > Educator Resources >

Societal Implications Activity: Rocks and Nanobots

| View full, printable version of this activity |

Audience: Middle school class to graduate student class
Time Needed:
Activity 1 – 10-15 minutes
Activity 2 – 10-15 minutes
Activity 3 – 30-40 minutes

Activity Description:

Students will discuss technology and the positive and negative social impacts of previous technologies. Following, nanotechnology and some of its applications will be introduced, and students will begin to examine not only how technology affects society, but how society can help shape technology. The students will discuss the proposed incorporation of nanobots into medical care by splitting into five groups, each group representing a specific segment of the population (U.S. Government, Nanobot Manufacturer, Insurance Companies, Health Care Workers, and Patients). Members from each team will roleplay to explain why they believe nanobots should or should not be used.

  • Identify ways in which technology has changed in the past and ways in which it might alter people's lives in the future (Activities 1 and 2)
  • Describe the nature of nanotechnology and some of its present and potential future applications (Activity 2)
  • Explain why different social groups might want to use the same innovation in nanotechnology or some other field in different ways (Activity 3)
Activity Materials:
  • Activity 1:
  • Activity 2:
    • A grain of sand or salt
    • A giant beach ball
    • A baseball
    • A basketball
    • Nanotechnology video clips (included) and VCR
    • Nanobot images (included), either copied to hand out to each group or as overheads
    • Possible Effects of Select Nanotechnologies sheet for instructor use
  • Activity 3:
    • "Identity Sheets" for each group (included), have enough copies so each student in a group receives a copy of his/her group's identity sheet
    • Poster paper and pens for students to record group responses
    • Chalk board or projector to display questions for the groups
    • "Medical Nanobot Societal Impact Worksheet" (included)
Supplemental Materials:

If you are unable to open pdf files, please download the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader.

| View full, printable version of this activity |

[back to top]