how society will be affected by nanotechnologies, and how society can in turn affect the course of technological advancement and application. When the semester was over, the students were able to frame pertinent questions about the implications of nanoscale science and engineering. Most said they were very well prepared to explain the concepts of nanoscale science and engineering. Although the course did not encourage the students to follow a career in policy or science and technology studies, they all felt the course was worthwhile. Many in the class said that their perspective on science, technology, and societal implications had changed from a belief that all technological advances are a good thing to a more general acknowledgment and understanding of the social issues behind new advancements.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison case is a clear example of how the MRSEC program has a positive impact on undergraduate learning. Scientists, technologists, and students need to consider the effects of technology on society, and it is imperative that educators join together to involve their undergraduate students. Through courses that introduce a new field like nanotechnology, students receive a foundation that is necessary for understanding the issues of technological change and development. Efforts such as this, made possible in part by the MRSEC program, are a true innovation in science education.
October 21-23, 1998, University of California, Santa Barbara: The “Making Connections” workshop had more than 75 participants, including MRSEC directors and outreach coordinators, university science faculty, high school and community college teachers, and students. Participants summarized current issues in science education, including presenting science to the wider community, engaging student interest in investigation, building partnerships with K-12 schools, creating resources for educational outreach and program evaluation.
November 13-14, 2003, University of Virginia: One-day symposium for education and outreach (EO) directors to make short presentations of their work. Twenty-six EO coordinators and 27 center directors attended this meeting. The University of Virginia made a compilation of the programs and achievements of each MRSEC for 2003-2004 that offers a single-page synopsis highlighting examples of EO highlights.2
April 13-15, 2006, University of Chicago: A meeting of MRSEC and EO directors, with a topical focus on evaluation and assessment of educational programs.