The Future is N.E.A.R. (Nanotechnology Education and Research) is a STEM education research experience designed to introduce students to the exciting world of nanotechnology and engineering research. 

 

Students in the N.E.A.R. program dig deep into cutting-edge research where they transform themselves from dwarves who stand on the shoulders of giants to giants who develop and share their research findings for next year's research students and beyond!
 

The Future is N.E.A.R. (Nanotechnology Education and Research) program parallels the senior capstone course, Engineering Design and Development (EDD), of the North Penn High School Engineering Academy.  The program offers its students an opportunity to gain 21st century skills that will prepare them to become successful leaders in a technological global society.  The program introduces the fundamentals of nanotechnology, engineering research and a rigorous application of their knowledge and skills to high school students while cultivating their interest in engineering, problem solving and life-long learning.  Students seek opportunities to research & develop solutions to global issues by capitalizing from fundamentals of nanotechnology and engineering research utilizing the latest published research available. 

 

The Engineering Academy at North Penn High School

The North Penn High School Engineering Academy represents a course sequence that addresses the educational needs of students planning on a post high school educational program in a two or four year college leading to a career in engineering or engineering technology.

The North Penn High School Engineering Academy, a Project Lead the Way program, provides students an opportunity to explore and experience engineering through a comprehensive five course curriculum which emphasizes critical thinking, creativity, innovation, and real-world problem solving.  The hands-on, project-based program engages students on multiple levels, exposes them to subjects that they typically may not pursue, provides them with a strong foundation for achieving their academic goals in any chosen field of study and, if pursued, establishes a proven path to college and career success in STEM related industries.

The Five Course Sequence

IED - 10

  Mr. Curt Reichwein
Designed for 10th or 11th grade students, s
tudents dig deep into the engineering design process, applying math, science, and engineering standards to hands-on projects. They work both individually and in teams to design solutions to a variety of problems using 3D modeling software, and use an engineering notebook to document their work.

INTRODUCTION TO ENGINEERING DESIGN

   

POE - 10

  Dr. Michael Voicheck
Through problems that engage and challenge, students explore a broad range of engineering topics, including mechanisms, the strength of structures and materials, and automation. Students develop skills in problem solving, research, and design while learning strategies for design process documentation, collaboration, and presentation.  This course is designed for 10th or 11th grade students.

.

PRINCIPLES OF ENGINEERING

   

CIM - 11

  Dr. Michael Voicheck

Manufactured items are part of everyday life, yet most students have not been introduced to the high-tech, innovative nature of modern manufacturing. This course illuminates the opportunities related to understanding manufacturing. At the same time, it teaches students about manufacturing processes, product design, robotics, and automation. This course is designed for 11th or 12th grade students.

COMPUTER INTEGRATED MANUFACTURING

   

  DE - 11

 

Ms. Julia Young
From smart phones to appliances, digital circuits are all around us. This course provides a foundation for students who are interested in electrical engineering, electronics, or circuit design. Students study topics such as combinational and sequential logic and are exposed to circuit design tools used in industry, including logic gates, integrated circuits, and programmable logic devices. This course is designed for 11th or 12th grade students.

DIGITAL
ELECTRONICS

   

EDD - 12

 

Mr. Michael Boyer
In this capstone course of the engineering academy, senior engineering academy students work in teams to design and develop an original solution to a valid open-ended technical problem by applying the engineering design process. Paralleling the EDD course is a program unique to North Penn High School called The Future is N.E.A.R. (Nanotechnology Education And Research).   This program is designed to offer the students of the NPHS Engineering Academy opportunities to research and develop solutions to global issues by capitalizing from the fundamentals of nanotechnology and materials science.  A final presentation of the students' research endeavors is offered to the community at the end of the school year. 

ENGINEERING DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT

 

The Future is N.E.A.R. at North Penn High School

The Future is N.E.A.R. (Nanotechnology Education and Research) is a STEM education research experience designed to introduce students to the exciting world of nanotechnology and engineering research. Students dig deep into cutting-edge research where they transform themselves from dwarves who stand on the shoulders of giants to giants who develop and share their research findings for next year's research students and beyond!

The Future is N.E.A.R. (Nanotechnology Education and Research) program parallels the senior capstone course, Engineering Design and Development (EDD), of the North Penn High School Engineering Academy.  The program offers its students an opportunity to gain 21st century skills that will prepare them to become successful leaders in a technological global society.  The program introduces the fundamentals of nanotechnology, engineering research and a rigorous application of knowledge and skills to high school students while cultivating their interest in engineering, problem solving and life-long learning.  Students seek opportunities to research & develop solutions to global issues by capitalizing from fundamentals of nanotechnology and engineering research utilizing the latest published research available. 

 

How Did the Program Begin?

During the spring of 2003, I applied and was accepted into a summer program at Drexel University called Research Experiences for Teachers (RET).  The program, funded by the National Science Foundation, was designed to introduce engineering research and nanotechnology to high school teachers.  Teachers gain opportunities to work in research labs, to develop curricula and experiments to bring back to their classrooms, the grant writing process and to attend field trips. 

The experience forever changed my life!  I spent three summers (2003-2005) in the RET program in the Fibrous Materials Research Laboratory working with Dr. Frank Ko and his research students.  My primary focus was with the development of polymer nanofibers (both conductive and nonconductive) utilizing the electrospinning process.  I learned so much…What an amazing group of individuals!

During my first summer in the RET program (2003), I was introduced to nanotechnology and the electrospinning process.  I immediately fell in love with the research process, the interaction with people who are masters in their field, and Drexel University.  It was from then on that I wished I could lead dual lives; one life teaching and one life in research!  From this desire, I quickly began to devise a way to introduce the research experience and in particular, nanotechnology to my students.  I knew that the largest obstacles to overcome were:

1. Designing the curriculum (There really isn’t a high school nanotechnology curriculum; especially one that involves research and electrospinning!)

2. Finding the resources and time to develop the lessons and activities.

3. Acquiring the necessary funding to begin a nanotechnology research course.

In the summer of 2004, I was accepted for a second summer at Drexel and was accepted into the RET-Nano program!  It was during this experience that I obtained a taste of actual research.  I worked on the research and development of an electroactive polymer actuator.  I researched conductive polymers, electrospun conductive nanofibers and experimented with various thin film materials; however, after many trials and failures, the five weeks concluded and there was no time left to continue the research.  By this point, I was determined to begin a research course with my students.  On my train rides to and from Drexel each day, I utilized the time to begin outlining what a nanotechnology research curriculum for the students in our Engineering Academy would look like.  I decided that the program would be focused upon introducing students to nanotechnology, experimental design, electrospinning, a field trip to Drexel University to utilize their Scanning Electron Microscope to characterize their experiments and a final presentation at the end of the school year.

In the summer of 2005, I applied again to the Drexel RET-Nano program and was offered a third opportunity as an independent study student!  This time, I utilized the research time to develop the curriculum and student activities.  I gave the program a name; The Future is N.E.A.R. (Nanotechnology Education And Research).  This summer proved to be the integral component of my three year experience at Drexel for the N.E.A.R. program.  All that was left was to obtain the funding necessary to design and implement the program.  I began researching grant funding opportunities.  I wrote for five grants and won three for a total of $11,500 from Toshiba, Dominion and ING.  This funding was utilized to acquire all of the necessary equipment and materials to begin the program!  During the 2005-06 school year, I submitted and won another grant from the Toyota Tapestry / National Science Teacher Association grant for another $10,000.   The program was ready to begin!!!

     
The goals of The Future is N.E.A.R. program are to:
  1.) Inform and educate students about nanotechnology, submicron measurement and the past, present and future applications of nanotechnology.
  2.) Introduce engineering research as a method of promoting and instilling, self directed, auto-didactic learning and the acceptance of failure as an often encountered component of the engineering research and design process.
  3.) Identify nanotechnology and its related STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) components as a necessary field of study for cultivating student learning and preparing students to become competitive, productive members of a 21st century global society.
  4.) Improve Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematical (STEM) knowledge and skills utilizing a collaborative, real-world research environment.
  5.) Provide opportunities for students to learn about Materials Science and Engineering as a potential field of study and career path.