• Audience versions of this page: Educator Educators

    You will use this hands-on activity to help high school students learn about the different forms and properties of carbon and explore how scientists can alter graphene molecules at the nanoscale, enabling them to engineer new materials and products. Students consider how the molecular structure of multiple forms of carbon result in different physical properties, including texture, strength, weight, and flexibility.


    Graphene is the basic structural unit for carbon forms of diamond, graphite, and fullerenes, including nanotubes and buckyballs. Graphene is only one atom thick and is composed of densely packed carbon atoms that are arranged in a six-sided honeycomb shape. When thousands of single-layer graphene molecules are stacked together they become graphite. Two scientists discovered graphene using clear tape and graphite from a pencil. They received the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics for their work. In this activity students replicate the scientists' investigation.


    In the media carousel above you will also find:

    • a link to a website with an image to use in the activity
    • links to two media spotlights with video clips and other information related to the topic of nanotechnology
    • the "Build the Future" introductory video to be shown to students at the beginning of your presentation
    • the PowerPoint presentation that highlights the many different types of engineers

    To prepare for your classroom visit, about two weeks in advance, review the information in the Engineer Guide and the materials provided for this activity.