Prof. Chad A. Mirkin has taught undergraduate-level General Chemistry at Northwestern University for over 30 years. He integrates nanoscience and technology lectures into his courses in order to connect historical and modern concepts in chemistry, relate course content to current professional and popular science topics that impact the lives of his students, enhance their view of chemistry, inspire critical and creative thinking, and spur students to continue their STEM education and attain careers in STEM fields.
In particular, spherical nucleic acid (SNA) nanoconjugates, which behave as “programmable atom equivalents” (PAEs) in the context of colloidal crystals, are one system that he uses to reinforce foundational concepts in chemistry including matter and atoms, the Periodic Table, Lewis dot structures and the Octet Rule, valency and VSEPR theory, and Pauling’s Rules, ultimately leading to enriching discussions centered on materials chemistry and biochemistry with key implications in medicine, optics, catalysis, and other areas.
This pedagogical approach is outlined in a J. Chem. Ed. article and is currently being integrated into textbooks to reach a wider audience.
Sample lectures are available here:
Sample quiz and test questions are available here: