This project is developing a state-level educational network that unites faculty at community colleges with faculty at research universities in a shared teaching enterprise around the common theme of the integration of nanotechnology into biology classes. The project participants include biology and physics faculty from a diverse set of institutions in New Mexico: research institutions (New Mexico State University, Las Cruces and University of New Mexico, Albuquerque) and community colleges (Dine College, Shiprock, and New Mexico State University, Alamogordo branch campus). Nanoscience is the topical theme because it is an important interdisciplinary scientific area that is not well integrated into biology and physics undergraduate courses at these institutions. Project objectives are being achieved through a series of workshops focusing on three general areas: (1) Measurement at the Nanoscale: Exploring the Invisible, (2) Nanoscience and Energy Technology, and (3) Nanostructures and Biological Systems. The workshops include discussion of pedagogy and time and resources for production of learning materials such as course modules, case studies, and lecture presentations. These are being disseminated through the New Mexico Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network (NM-INBRE) of 6 state universities via its ACCESS Grid, the NMSU Teaching Academy, the NMSU Honors College, and a dedicated project public domain website. An Advisory Committee is providing oversight and assessment of project progress.
INTELLECTUAL MERIT. The project unites a broad spectrum of faculty in physics and biology in a common enterprise, development of a collaborative educational network that uses an interdisciplinary approach to produce materials about nanoscience appropriate for use in undergraduate courses in biology and physics. In addition to promoting the introduction of nanoscience into two diverse disciplines the project is: providing faculty development experiences in a workshop setting and encouraging consideration of the teaching challenges faced by educators working in urban and rural settings with students of different socio-economic backgrounds. Educational components complement the research and teaching interests of the participating research faculty; therefore, the activities help faculty bridge research and education in the classroom.
BROADER IMPACT. This collaborative team effort unites faculty from postsecondary minority institutions across the state of New Mexico. Women and minority faculty who are members of biology and physics departments are represented among the project participants. Materials produced by the project are being made freely available through dissemination efforts. This project is developing a network of committed science educators in the state of New Mexico who are developing synergistic strategies that cut across disciplinary and institutional boundaries. A longer term goal is to enlarge the intercollegial network developed in New Mexico into a broader national scale effort.