The second week of class I like to make the students familiar with the Nanoscale. I first discuss a little about why the nanoscale is important. I introduce the unit factor conversion at this time. The students do some simple metric conversions between nanometer, micron, angstrom, millimeter, centimeter and meter. They also do some conversions with different magnification factors. For example: How big will a 7.5 micron red blood cell appear to be under a magnification of 10,000 X? An image of a bacterium measures 3 mm in length when magnified 1,000 X. How big is the bacterium actually? I also have them use a micron bar on a micrograph to determine the size of feature.
The "Lab" activity for the second week is a just to measure a variety of objects. We pretend that we are able to work at a magnification of 100,000 X and I have several common objects in the room which I chose to be the same size as those objects if they were magnified by 100,000 X. See the picture:
The 15 m rope is placed in a circle and I tell them to imagine a great tree 5 m in diameter growing out of the ground. That would be like a human hair (50 um) at 100,000 X. I also show them how to use a vernier scale and a caliper and a micrometer.
I have a chart of different tools such as optical microscope, SEM, TEM, AFM, STM with limitations and resolution for each tool and try to get them to think about which tool would be useful for viewing or measuring different objects such as atoms, carbon nanotubes, pollen, state of the art transistors.
I asked one of the students to volunteer to fill the EDS dewar with liquid nitrogen. I will have a different student fill it each week.
I also spent some time this week in using the calculator. Students often have trouble with scientific notation (EE/EXP) button when entering 10^9 they want to press "10 EE 9" instead of "1 EE 9" as you should.