Ted's teaching tips;The Big Picture

17th September 1999 at 01:00
This startling picture beautifully illustrates nanotechnology, which looks like being a major form of technology in the 21st century.

The microchip What is a microchip (a shrunken integrated circuit, often with millions of electronic components, eg, transistors and capacitors, usually put on to a silicon base - the one in the picture is only 1mm across)? How is it used (in computers and many other fields, like television, cookers, mobile phones, factory machines and robots)?

Nanotechnology What is a nanosecond (a billionth of a second; comes from the Greek 'nanos', meaning dwarf)? What is nanotechnology (technology on a minute scale, effectively shrinking large machines to the size of a pin prick)? A computer would have filled your classroom 20 years ago, now you can carry it in your pocket.

Ants What is remarkable about ants (small but immensely strong, can carry several times their own weight; very well organised, sometimes using other ants as slaves; build elaborate nests; have a queen, like bees)? How do they live (in colonies, often marching in columns, destroying, or consuming, everything in their path)?

Humour Write a speech or'thinks' bubble above the ant, eg, "Yummy, this beats my Frosties","I'm fed up with lugging this damned computer about" or "I've got the chip, all I need now is some fish".

Ted Wragg is professor of Education at Exeter University.

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