Seminar urges teachers to think small

Nanotechnology, the science of manipulating atoms and molecules on a scale much smaller than a human hair, has been heralded as a key to the Capital District's economic future. As a result, more than 150 area school board members and educators gathered to learn how they can prepare a nanotech work force during the Planning for the Future Conference at the University at Albany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering Tuesday, Nov. 28.

Dr. Alain E. Kaloyeros, vice president and chief administrative officer CNSE, demonstrated how tiny nanoparticles can put polish on a car and mentioned some of the products that nanotechnology can influence cosmetics, clothing, computer chips and car parts.

Additionally, a panel discussion centered on the skills and behaviors that teachers will need to target to effectively prepare students.

Students need to develop better critical thinking and problem solving skills," said Niskayuna High School math teacher Shana Keith.

Keith, who took part in a summer program at the CSNE last summer, also said that students need to learn teamwork.

"Teambuilding isn't being emphasized enough in the schools," she said.

Cohoes School District Superintendent Charles Dedrick said parents and educators need to begin to talk more positively about math and science. He also said that elementary-level science needs be more practical and fun.

"We need to stop talking badly about math," Dedrick said. "If they are using a textbook in elementary school, they are missing the boat."

Several area teachers in attendance offered their thoughts about how to prepare students for the future.

"Teachers need to focus more on thought process than on having kids get the right answer," said Tammy Weingarten, a chemistry teacher in the South Colonie School District.

Ken McDermith, department administrator for technology and business in the Shenendehowa Central School District, said that educators need to reach out to business to more fully understand the competencies that will be needed for careers in nanotechnology.

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