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Societal Implications Activity: Technology and Public Policy

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Audience: Middle to high school
Time Needed: 60+ minutes (activity can be stretched over multiple days)

Activity Description:

Students will roleplay as lawmakers for the city of Nanoville, who are trying to decide whether to pass a new law that requires all new cars to be built with nanocomposites. This activity was designed to illustrate the effect that technology has on society, and how society makes decisions regarding technology. The students groups representing different segments of society, environmentalists, local industry and business leaders, healthcare administrators, local residents, and nanocomposite manufacturers, will discuss the possible effects of nanotechnology on the interests of the people they represent. The class is asked to consider both pros and cons of using nanotechnology and to make a decision at the end.

  • To help students understand the relationship between technology and society
  • To help students understand how public policy decisions are made
Activity Materials:
  • Introductory pictures
  • Scenario fact sheet - "Welcome to Nanoville!"
  • Group identity worksheets - Environmentalists, Industry and Local Businesses, Health and Safety Workers, Residents, and Nanocomposite Manufacturers
  • Poster paper and markers for each group of students
Supplemental Materials:

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