Nanotechnology For Kids
Nanotechnology isn't microscopy, but it certainly is part of the microworld. Nano machines and nanoscale science have an exciting future that will have a major effect on all our lives, but we already have the beginnings of nanophobia appearing in the popular press. Fear thrives on misinformation. Caution is reasonable and appropriate, but fear, fueled by ignorance and by science fiction thrillers like Michael Critchon's bestseller "Alien" that feature nanomachines gone wild, is not. Uninformed fear may make the controversies over topics like genetic engineering and stem cell research seem tame by comparison. Facts and understanding are the antidote, so it's important that children's books about the nanoworld have started to appear.
The best answer to the question "how can we explain nanotechnology in the primary grades?" is don't do it! Young children in grades 1-3 must first explore beyond their unaided eyes with magnifying glasses and low-power dissecting scopes, to develop a sense of scale; without that foundation, nano dimensions will make no more sense to them than the mega figures of our federal budget make to us. For more advice, see the other sections of MICRO's website.
Most of these books are useful in the "middle grades", which is a deliberately vague classification. Some of these brief books will work for upper elementary students, and others have enough content for high school. The one high school teacher's manual (by Jones et al.) is a clear winner; it isn't likely to have significant competition soon.