The NanoBio Partnership for Alabama’s Black Belt Region is a National Science Foundation funded project directed by Dr. Shaik Jeelani (Tuskegee University, NanoBio Website) whose aim is to provide professional development to Alabama middle school (6th - 8th grade) science teachers in order to promote inquiry-centered science instruction. The Auburn University team is comprised of researchers from the College of Education, the College of Engineering and the College of Sciences and Mathematics. Activities include curriculum module development and evaluation, teacher training workshops, and mentoring of undergraduate science education majors through a fellowship program. Informal activities include participation in NanoDays and other science outreach events.

AU-MSP Faculty

Curtis Shannon (email)

Andrew T. Hunt Professor
Chemistry and Biochemistry

Virginia A. Davis (email)

Mary and John H. Sanders Associate Professor
Chemical Engineering

Christopher J. Easley (email)

Knowles Associate Professor
Chemistry and Biochemistry

Joni M. Lakin (email)

Assistant Professor
Educational Foundations, Leadership, and Technology

Margaret Ross (email)

Alumni Professor
Educational Foundations, Leadership, and Technology

Melody Russell (email)

Associate Professor
Curriculum and Teaching

David Shannon (email)

Humana-Germany-Sherman Distinguished Professor
Educational Foundations, Leadership, and Technology

Jessica Cooper (email)

Graduate Advisor

AU-MSP Student Fellows

Shannon Bales

Graduate Student
General Science Ed.

Tara McAdam

Graduate Student
General Science

Alexandria Jones

General Science Ed.

Misty Thomas

Graduate Student
General Science Ed.


Resources for Teachers

Self-Assembly and Protein Folding

Lesson Plan:  MS Word file
Protocol files:  Experiment, Video, Card Activity
Presentation slides:  PowerPoint file
Case Studies:  CS1, CS2, CS3
Guess my size files:  Handout, PowerPoint file

Finding Nano in the Trees

Lesson Plan & Activity:  PDF file
Presentation slides:  PDF file

Abalone Shell Module

Worksheet file:  MS Word file
Lesson Plan file:  MS Word file
  (8th grade lesson plan coming soon)
Presentation slides:  PDF file
Demo of module and protocol as a YouTube video

Mentos and Diet Coke Catalysis Module

Experiment protocol file (for teachers):  MS Word file
Experiment protocol file (for students):  MS Word file
Presentation slides:  PowerPoint file
Journal Article:  PDF file*
*Article reprinted with permission from:  Coffey, T. S., "Diet Coke and Mentos: What is really behind this physical reaction?" Am. J. Phys. 2008, 76, 551.
Copyright © 2008, American Association of Physics Teachers.

Detecting Cancer with Nanotubes

Experiment protocol file:  MS Word file
Example of collected data:  Excel file
Presentation slides:  PowerPoint file
Demo of module and protocol as a YouTube video

Nano in Your Cell Phone Module

Experiment protocol file:  TBD
Example of collected data:  TBD
Presentation slides:  TBD

Photos and Modules

MSP Annual Conference, 2014; Montgomery, AL

Photos from SECME 2014; Birmingham, AL

Module: Detecting Cancer with Nanotubes

Scientists have found that carbon nanotubes can be chemically altered to bind cancer cells. Since the nanotubes readily absorb infrared radiation (heat waves), they can act like small bombs to destroy the cancer cells. These procedures can be a treatment for cancer, but only if normal, healthy cells are not also destroyed.  This module utilizes wooden sticks (nanotubes), Velcro (folate receptors), and plastic containers (cell surfaces) to model the nanotube binding to cells.  Students are asked to run multiple "experiments" and determine if nanotubes can "find" cancer cells in the presence of normal cells.

Normal cells are modeled with fewer folate receptors (Velcro).

Cancer cells are modeled with more folate receptors (Velcro).

Top view of module. Normal cell on left, cancer cell on right.

Example result shows 4 nanotubes (sticks) binding to cancer cell (left) and only 2 binding to normal cell (right).  Results vary around this approximate average, making the system a nice model of the difficulty of discriminating between normal and cancer cells.  Students' math skills can be sharpened as well by averaging multiple runs in the two groups (normal and cancer cells).

Abalone Shell Module

Researchers have discovered that the toughness of abalone shells is a result of the material's nanoscale properties.  Abalones must have tough shells to protect against predator attacks (otters, octopuses).  The material inside the shells, nacre, was found to be composed of brick-and-mortar contruction, with aragonite (form of calcium carbonate) "bricks" held together by a biological polymer "mortar."  This module allows students to test the strength of various materials made of calcium carbonate, yet with different material structures.  A weight is dropped from one of several fixed distances, through a plastic pipe, and onto various materials.  Abalone shells show significantly more toughness than other calcium carbonate materials, such as Tums antacid tablets.  Students can design their own experiments with different materials and different tube heights.  Experiments are followed with discussions of how modern materials could exploit these nanostructures to enhance strength and toughness.

Electron microscope image of "brick-and-mortar" structure of abalone shell material.

The abalone shell module components.  White PVC tube, weight, and test materials are shown here.

Less structured calcium carbonate materials, such as Tums antacid tablets, require only small amounts of force to break.  Abalone shells require significantly more force and more repetitions to break.