Carolyn Nichol, PhD's Blog (18)

Science Education Resources for Elementary Teachers

Please pass on this free resource for elementary science teachers. It provides complete lesson plans on a  wide range of science topics.

Added by Carolyn Nichol, PhD on November 14, 2012 at 2:41pm — No Comments

All carbon nanotubes are not created equally

The family of carbon nanotubes is large. There can be single walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs), which are like a rolled up sheet of graphene - a monolayer of carbon bonded into a tubelike structure or they could be multiwalled carbon nanotubes, which have concentric layers of these graphene tubes. These carbon nanotubes can have large aspect ratios (length to width) or could be cut into ultra short carbon nanotubes. In fact, carbon nanotubes come in thousands of different molecular weights and… Continue

Added by Carolyn Nichol, PhD on May 25, 2011 at 4:36am — No Comments


I am writing this blog as I procrastinate writing the final exam for my

BioNano class this fall. During the class, student picked current peer

reviewed journal articles and presented them in a short Pecha Kucha

format. This means presenting 20 PPT with 20 sec per slide. Topics

ranged from applications of gold nanoparticles for lung cancer

detection, the effects of feeding Buckyballs to mice, and antimicrobial

properties of nanosilver. Students in the class were… Continue

Added by Carolyn Nichol, PhD on November 28, 2010 at 4:54pm — No Comments

Proton Size

I woke up this morning feeling maybe smaller, maybe less energized. In

fact, a new study in Nature calculates that the proton is 4% smaller

than previously thought or as this Scientific American headline reads

"proton shrinks in size"

So perhaps my jeans really do fit better today because my protons… Continue

Added by Carolyn Nichol, PhD on September 10, 2010 at 4:46am — 1 Comment

Nanocomposites and everyday things

just put some Saran wrap on leftovers. Was it Saran or some cheaper

knock off? Does it matter? Probably not, since my family will eat it

tomorrow regardless (they are not picky). However, if you were packing a

product to be shipped around the world, like an expensive

pharmaceutical product or even an inexpensive snack, you would care.

Time is money - esp. when it is sitting on a store shelf.

How does this relate to the esoteric term, nanocomposites? The cause… Continue

Added by Carolyn Nichol, PhD on June 11, 2010 at 5:49am — No Comments

Nanotechnology lectures freely available on line

Dr. John Hutchinson and I taught Nanotechnology for Teachers out of
Rice University and The University of Colorado at Boulder in the Spring
of 2009 using distance learning software. All of the course content,
including cutting edge research presentations from Rice Faculty,
Post-Docs and Graduate students are freely available at

Added by Carolyn Nichol, PhD on May 4, 2010 at 10:04pm — No Comments

Fun Nanolabs for undergraduates and high school students

Synthesizing ferrofluids and liquid crystals are laboratory activities that can be conducted in a 75 minute lab. At Rice University we have incorporated these labs in our freshmen chemistry course and have taught it to teachers in our Nanotechnology for Teachers course. An outline of the protocol is described by Dr. Mary McHale at

Added by Carolyn Nichol, PhD on March 14, 2010 at 4:00pm — 1 Comment

Stellar Nanotubes

In 2008, carbon nanostructures that looked like long carbon nanotubes were

identified in three meteorites. This was surprising because on earth, the temperatures and pressures associated with making carbon fullerene structures were/are very energy intensive and involve very toxic and/or expensive catalysts. However, scientists are now looking at ways to mimic interstellar reactions to create carbon fullerine structures.… Continue

Added by Carolyn Nichol, PhD on March 1, 2010 at 3:25am — 1 Comment

What is in your kitty litter

Diatomaceous earth is a common material that we buy in bulk and put into our pool filters and kitty litter. If you thought it was just dirt take a close look. We are mining fossils; an antique algae that looks like a nanomachine.

This image was taken on an uncoated sample in a Hitachi TM-1000 SEM for a RIce University BIoNanotechnology…

Added by Carolyn Nichol, PhD on November 20, 2009 at 3:03am — No Comments


Why are gold nanoshells for cancer treatment so interesting?

Gold nanoshells are 90- 130 nm particles of silica coated with a thin layer of gold that have unusual optical feature and can potentially be used for cancer therapy and diagnosis. The thin gold coating on the glassy substrate results in a product that can be designed to absorb and scatter light at very specific frequencies. This "tunable" property means by changing the ratio of the silica core to the gold ,gold nanoshells… Continue

Added by Carolyn Nichol, PhD on November 20, 2009 at 3:01am — 2 Comments


I was asked at dinner tonight about Dr Jim Tour's work on Nanocars by a nonscientist. What I said is that Jim Tour's research on nanocars really highlights how creative minds can envision chemical structures, synthesize them, and then see them in real time because of recent advances in nanotechnology. Dr. Tour takes organic chemistry and makes it interesting by using analogies between nanoscopic molecules and macroscopic things we can see in our everyday life. Nanocars are molecules that have… Continue

Added by Carolyn Nichol, PhD on November 20, 2009 at 3:00am — No Comments

NIH Challenge Grant Rabbit Hole

I have not written a blog lately because the NIH released a Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) challenge grant 12-OD-102 that was equivalent to saying Drink Me. And then another (12-OD-101) that said Eat Me. The first was to develop a high impact professional development program for science teachers; the other was to show that there was a more effective way for students to learn science. Once someone really smart told me if there seems like there should be a better way, there… Continue

Added by Carolyn Nichol, PhD on May 13, 2009 at 3:47am — No Comments

American Chemical Society National Meeting, Nanoscience: Challenges for the Future

As I pack up to leave Salt Lake City and the 237th American Chemical Society meeting, I wanted to reflect on some of the comments about the future of nanotechnology and nanoeducation.

From the education sessions, it seems clear that K-12 teachers are taking bits and pieces of activities that have been developed through NNI funding. It has to "fit" into their curriculum and that means that it is only adapted if the teachers find it easy to use and it supports and augments the content… Continue

Added by Carolyn Nichol, PhD on March 24, 2009 at 6:08pm — 1 Comment

Science Fair Blues

On Friday March 13, I judged 14 chemistry projects at the Houston district science fair. This is a big deal. This was the 50th anniversary of Science and Engineering Fair of Houston. It is a big deal for a student to make it to the judging at the Houston convention center. Advancement to this division means that their project that was one of 30,000 projects entered in the preliminary school/district fair competitions that was chosen to be in this elite group of 1,300 projects from 140 schools.… Continue

Added by Carolyn Nichol, PhD on March 16, 2009 at 1:37am — No Comments

How to teach nanotechnology in 3 days

There are quite a few 1-3 day teacher workshops on nanotechnology offered around the world. Do they work? Can a middle school or high school teacher learn about these new advances in research AND learn how to effectively integrate it into their classrooms in such a short time? Most teachers who take nanotechnology workshops come away excited about the new applications that they have learned about - quantum dots are beautiful, gold nanoshells have tremendous potential, buckyballs are fun,and who… Continue

Added by Carolyn Nichol, PhD on March 1, 2009 at 6:00pm — 3 Comments

by any other name

What is nanoscience? Is it different from nanotechnology? Is it chemistry? Many chemists do think that nanoscience is another word for molecular chemistry. However, there are many who would argue with that definition (including the physicists, mechanical engineers, chemical engineers, bioengineers working in nanotechnology). Is molecular physics also nanoscience?

Here is the interesting issue about nanoscience and nanotechnology. Kids tend to think it is cool. Or at least they don't… Continue

Added by Carolyn Nichol, PhD on February 23, 2009 at 3:48am — 1 Comment

Could a new curriculum in nanotechnology improve science education?

I was at a nanotechnology meeting and this question was thrown around. Since American kids, in general, don't like high school chemistry and don't even take physics, could we offer them an alternative science course that was developed by scientists. Would this be better than current science classes and who might take a course in nanotechnology?

Most of the scientists and educators at this NSF sponsored meeting agreed that our high school chemistry curriculum is in a sad state. There… Continue

Added by Carolyn Nichol, PhD on January 23, 2009 at 7:48pm — 8 Comments

[ Draft ]

Friday, December 12, 2008

Identifying what matters

I attended a Houston Independent School District (HISD) board meeting last night to hear if they had decided to build a new facility for my son's school. However, all of this debate over buildings just drives home the fact that facilities do not enhance learning. The chart shown on the right illustrates the importance of different variables in determining student achievement. This graph is from Dr. John Hattie's… Continue

Added by Carolyn Nichol, PhD on January 2, 2009 at 9:17pm — 3 Comments

Welcome - about us

Welcome! Nanopaprika was cooked up by Hungarian chemistry PhD student in 2007. The main idea was to create something more personal than the other nano networks already on the Internet. Community is open to everyone from post-doctorial researchers and professors to students everywhere.

There is only one important assumption: you have to be interested in nano!

Nanopaprika is always looking for new partners, if you have any idea, contact me at

Dr. András Paszternák, founder of Nanopaprika

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