SCIENCE OF INNOVATION: Electronic Tattoos - A Science Perspective (Grades 6-12)

Objective:


Framework for K-12 Science Education - LS1.D: Information Processing, PS1.A: Structure and Properties of Matter, PS3.D: Energy in Chemical Processes and Everyday Life, PS4.C: Information Technologies and Instrumentation, ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions, ETS2.A: Interdependence of Science, Engineering, and Technology, ETS2.B: Influence of Engineering, Technology, and Science on Society and the Natural World


Introduction Notes:


Science of innovation

Electronic Tattoo

A Science Perspective (Grades 6–12)

 

Lesson plans produced by the National Science Teachers Association.

Video produced by NBC Learn in collaboration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office
and the National Science Foundation.

 

Background and Planning

 

About the Video

This video highlights ultra-thin, flexible, elastic membranes capable of detecting and recording electrical signals from the heart, brain, and various other muscles and organs by simply adhering to a person’s skin. The nanomembranes, which have been dubbed “electronic tattoos” because of their similarities to temporary tattoos, are much, much thinner than a single strand of human hair, yet include silicon-based circuitry that can be used to monitor functions inside the body. This technology was a collaborative effort among various scientists, including John Rogers, a materials scientist and electrical engineer at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Yonggang Huang, an engineer who specializes in the mechanics of curvilinear materials and who is currently at Northwestern University.

 

0:00     0:14     Series opening

0:15     0:30     Some current medical technologies

0:31     0:43     Introducing electronic tattoos

0:44     1:48     How Rogers and Huang met

1:49     2:14     The semiconductive property of silicon

2:15     3:37     Developing the electronic tattoo prototypes

3:38     3:57     Inspirations for electronic tattoos

3:58     4:21     How the tattoo works

4:22     4:54     Rogers’s and Huang’s patents

4:55     5:23     Conclusion

5:24     5:36     Closing credits

 

Language Support

To aid those with limited English proficiency or others who need help focusing on the video, make transcript of the video available. Click the Transcript tab on the side of the video window, then copy and paste into a document for student reference.

 

Framework for K-12 Science Education

        LS1.D: Information Processing

        PS1.A: Structure and Properties of Matter

        PS3.D: Energy in Chemical Processes and Everyday Life

        PS4.C: Information Technologies and Instrumentation

        ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions

        ETS2.A: Interdependence of Science, Engineering, and Technology

        ETS2.B: Influence of Engineering, Technology, and Science on Society and the Natural World

 

(page 1)

 

Emphasize Innovation

 

The Innovation Process

Collaboration

An important part of the innovation process is collaboration and the synthesis of ideas from different disciplines. As shown in the video, Drs. Rogers and Huang are experts in two very different fields – yet they are working together to combine their knowledge and expertise to produce nanomembranes, or what have been called “electronic tattoos.”

 

Rogers and Huang have filed more than 10 patents related to their research on  nanomembranes in order to protect their intellectual property rights. A start-up company called MC10, which was co-founded by Rogers, has licensed the multiple patents and patent applications of electronic tattoos in order to potentially develop other types of flexible healthcare devices, including “electrical socks” that have the potential to prevent irregular heartbeats when adhered to the heart, or seizures when applied to the brain’s surface.

 

Take Action with Students

Collaborative efforts are common classroom strategies, but the “jigsaw” format mimics the collaborative efforts of Rogers and Huang. This strategy has students number off in small groups, such as 1 to 4.  All of the 1s, for example, then convene as a group to become experts on a topic or investigative strategy. After gaining their expert knowledge, the original groups reconvene, each containing numbers 1 to 4. There, each person relays their expert knowledge to the rest of the group as they work together to accomplish a task.

 

Innovation and STEM

The innovation highlighted in Science of Innovation (SOI): Electronic Tattoo incorporates many aspects of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).  For example, required science knowledge includes an understanding that electrical resistance is related to both a material’s physical and chemical properties, and that electricity flows through some materials more easily than through others. Math concepts involve the calculations that enable comparisons of conductivity and algorithms for resistivity. Starting with a vision and relying on science and math knowledge, Rogers and Huang collaborated on improving a technology by finding a way to fashion semiconducting silicon into tiny wires that could be embedded into ultra-thin, flexible membranes. The membranes would adhere to the skin without the use of adhesives and would still allow the silicon to function as a semiconductor. One aspect of the engineering design process is the development of prototypes and their testing and revision. Rogers and Huang collaborated for years developing prototypes of their electronic tattoos. Many engineering design efforts have multiple prototypes that are “on the table” at the same time. Each is considered in terms of cost, materials, and manufacturability, and, of course, the end user of the product or process.

 

Take Action with Students

         Using the Design Investigations section of Facilitate Inquiry as a guide, encourage students to investigate how temperature affects the resistivity of silicon diodes.

         Lead a discussion that helps students brainstorm to form a list of some of the constraints within which engineers had to work to design and construct electronic tattoos. Responses

                                                                                            (page 2)

might include that the membranes had to be waterproof so as not to become damaged when moistened by water or perspiration; they had to be portable, flexible and biologically compatible so as not to be cumbersome or irritating to the user; they had to be hypoallergenic and nontoxic; and, despite their size and flexibility, they had to be able to record and transfer electrical signals from inside the body to an external computer. Have students make recommendations for the parameters of the constraints they list.

 

Facilitate Inquiry

Encourage inquiry using a strategy modeled on the research-based science writing heuristic. Student work will vary in complexity and depth depending on grade level, prior knowledge, and creativity. Use the prompts liberally to encourage thought and discussion. Student Copy Masters begin on page 8.

 

Explore Understanding

Introduce this video by having students disassemble some old or broken cell phones, calculators, VCRs, and DVD players to find the circuit boards used to power the devices. Have students compare and contrast the boards in terms of what they are made of: resistors, capacitors, diodes, wires, and so on. Spark their thinking with the following prompts:

         These devices are powered by….

         A circuit _____ enables electricity to flow by….

         The amount of electricity that flows depends on….

         The various parts of the circuit board regulate the flow of electricity by....

 

Show the video SOI: Electronic Tattoo and encourage students to jot down notes while they watch. Continue the discussion of flexible membranes such as the temporary tattoo, and introduce the electric component of Rogers’s and Huang’s innovation, using prompts such as the following:

         When I watched the video, I thought about….

         Some of the devices used to “see” inside the human body include….

         The experts in the video claimed that _____ because….

         Rogers and Huang began working together when….

         Rogers and Huang used materials that….

         Some of the breakthroughs that allowed Rogers and Huang to develop their tattoos were….

         When applied to the skin, the electronic tattoos in the video can….

 

Ask Beginning Questions

Stimulate small-group discussion with the prompt: This video makes me think about these questions…. Then have groups list questions they have about how different materials conduct or don’t conduct electricity. Ask groups to choose one question and phrase it in such a way as to be researchable and/or testable. The following are some examples.

         What types of materials are conductors?

         What types of materials are insulators?

         What properties of a material could affect how it conducts electricity?

         What is the relationship between electrical conductivity and electrical resistivity?

 

(page 3)

Design Investigations

Choose one of the following options based on your students’ knowledge, creativity, and ability level and your available materials. Actual materials needed will vary greatly based on these factors as well.

 

Possible Materials

Allow time for students to examine and manipulate the materials you have available. Doing so often aids students in refining their questions, or prompts new ones that should be recorded for future investigation. In this inquiry, students might use multimeters, batteries, probeware, LED light bulbs, resistors, insulated 18-gauge wire, and a variety of materials that are conductors, insulators, or semi-conductors (germanium and/or silicon diodes). If students choose to test the effects of temperature on a material’s resistivity/conductivity, they will also need beakers, water, ice, a hot plate, masking tape, a marking pen, metal tongs, and thermometers.

 

Safety Considerations

To augment your own safety procedures, see NSTA’s Safety Portal at http://www.nsta.org/portals/safety.aspx.

 

Open Choice Approach(Copy Master page 8)

Groups might come together to agree on one question for which they will explore the answer, or each group might explore something different. Students should brainstorm any and all ideas in order to form a plan they would have to follow in order to answer the question, which might include researching background information. Work with students to develop safe procedures that control variables and enable them to make accurate measurements. Encourage students with prompts such as the following:

         Information we need to understand before we can start our investigation is….

         The variable we will test is….

         The variables we will control are….

         The steps we will follow are….

         To conduct our investigation safely, we will….

 

Focused Approach(Copy Master pages 9-10)

The following exemplifies how students might investigate the effect of temperature on the resistivity of silicon diodes.

1.      After students examine the materials you have available to explore the electrical resistivity/conductivity of various materials, ask questions such as the following to spark their thinking:

         What are the components of a basic electrical circuit and what does each part of a circuit “do” in terms of the flow of electricity?

         How can you measure electrical conductivity and resistivity?

2.      Once groups have determined the questions they wish to explore, have students brainstorm to form a list of variables that are involved in their proposed experiments and determine which can be controlled and which cannot. As needed, help them focus on their independent (chosen) variable, using prompts such as the following:

 

(page 4)

         The variable we will test is….

         The responding variable will be….

         The variables we will control, or keep the same, are….

3.      Give students free rein in developing their plan, but insist they get your approval of their experimental procedure. Students might prepare five water baths, each with a different temperature (using the hot plate, water, and beakers), and drop one diode into each beaker, allowing the diode to reach the temperature of the water. Students could then construct their circuit, completing it with one of a few diodes and measuring the resistance with the multimeter. Use the following prompts to guide students in their thinking:

         The materials we will use are….

         We will vary the temperature of the diodes by….

         We will build _____ circuits, because….

         We will record and organize our data using….

         To conduct our investigation safely, we will….

4.      As students work, make sure they understand the importance of making accurate measurements by using these, or similar, prompts:

         We will measure temperature to the nearest _____ degree.

         We will measure resistivity to the nearest _____ k-ohm.

5.      Students might continue their investigations by exploring the resistivity/conductivity of other semiconducting materials, or by investigating how temperature, thickness, or length affects the resistivity/conductivity of various metallic conductors or semiconductors.

 

Media Research Option

Groups might have questions that are best explored using print media and online resources. Students should brainstorm to form a list of key words and phrases they could use in Internet search engines that might result in resources that will help them answer the question. Review how to safely browse the Web, how to evaluate information on the Internet for accuracy, and how to correctly cite the information found. Suggest students make note of any interesting tangents they find in their research effort for future inquiry. Encourage students with prompts such as the following:

         Words and phrases associated with our question are….

         The reliability of our sources was established by….

         The science and math concepts that underpin a possible solution are….

         Our research might feed into an engineering design solution such as….

         To conduct the investigation safely, we will….

 

Make a Claim Backed by Evidence

As students carry out their investigations, ensure that they record their observations. As needed, suggest ways they might organize their data using tables or graphs. Students should analyze their data and then make one or more claims based on the evidence their data show. Encourage students with this prompt: As evidenced by… we claim… because….

 

(page 5)

 

 

 

An example claim might be:

As evidenced byour measurements, we claim that the resistance of a semiconductor decreases as temperature is increased because hotter silicon diodes had lower resistivity values than colder diodes.

 

Compare Findings

Encourage students to compare their ideas with those of others—such as classmates who investigated the same or similar questions; material they found on the Internet; experts they chose to interview; or their textbooks. Remind students to credit their original sources in their comparisons. Elicit comparisons from students with prompts such as:

         My ideas are similar to (or different from) those of the experts in the video in that….

         My ideas are similar to (or different from) those of my classmates in that….

         My ideas are similar to (or different from) those that I found on the Internet in that….

 

Students might make comparisons like the following:

My findings are similar to the information on the Internet, because I found that the resistivity of germanium, which is another semiconductor, also increases with a decrease in temperature. I also found out that this change is related to the electrons in the material.

 

Reflect on Learning

Students should reflect on their understanding, thinking about how their ideas have changed or what they know now that they didn’t before. Encourage reflection, using prompts such as the following:

         My ideas about this topic have changed because of this evidence….

         My ideas changed in the following ways….

         I wish I had been able to spend more time on….

         Another investigation I would like to try is….

 

Inquiry Assessment

See the rubric included in the student Copy Masters on page 11.

 

 

Incorporate Video into Your Lesson Plan

 

Integrate Video in Instruction

Compare/Contrast:  After students have watched the entire video, replay the first few seconds and freeze the clip to show the MRI machine. Explain, if necessary, that an MRI device uses magnetism to produce images of internal structures and features of the body. Have a few volunteers recount their experiences with imaging technology. Have the class use all of this information to compare and contrast electronic tattoos with these other types of non-invasive medical technologies.

Homework:  Ask each student to come up with at least two other ways in which electronic membrane technology might be used, such as monitoring one’s performance during a sporting competition or using the membranes to control a video controller. Compile students’ responses as a class and discuss their ideas.

 

(page 6)

 

Using the 5E Approach?

If you use a 5E approach to lesson plans, consider incorporating video in these Es:

Explore:  Use the Design Investigations section of the Facilitate Inquiry to support your lessons on electricity and properties of matter.

Elaborate:  Use the video to encourage students to learn more about other medical uses for electronic tattoos, including: monitoring premature infants; helping people without larynxes or with severely impaired larynxes to communicate; using the membranes to help heal skin that has been burned or wounded; among others.

 

Connect to … Engineering

Identify Constraints:  Have students work in small groups to brainstorm in order to compile a list of some of the constraints that Rogers and Huang worked within to develop their electronic nanomembranes. Discuss students’ lists as a class. If students are unable to come up with lists on their own, allow them to use the Internet to spark their creative thinking.

 

Prompt Innovation with Video

After students watch the video, have them research patents associated with exoskeletons and bionic limbs. They can do so with an Internet search on Google.com/patents using search terms such as the following. If time is limited, point students toward the following patents.

 

Primary Search Terms

Circuitry

Integrated Circuit

CMOS (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor)

Semiconductor

Adherence/Adhesive

Curvilinear

Flexible

Foldable

Nanostructured component

Nanoribbon

Ultrathin

 

Additional Helpful Search Terms

Medical/Biological

Stretchable

Foldable

Bendable

Contoured

Detector

Sensor

Gauge

Stress/Strain/Shear

Stamp

Mask

Applicator

Patent Examples

6,743,982 – Stretchable interconnects in a sensor array, supported for relative movements

2005/0038498 – medical device having a plurality of nanostructured components

2008/0157235 – stretchable component of a device to be applied to skin

7,622,367 – method for providing a printable semiconductor element on a receiving surface of a substrate

 

Suggest students read abstracts of patents that attract their attention. Then hold a discussion about how various innovators are improving on the process. Use prompts such as the following:

         This patent is for _____, which is related to the invention shown in the video by….

         This patent describes _____, which differs from the invention shown in the video in that….

         I think doing/making _____ would be an innovation because….

 

(page 7)

 

Copy Master: Open Choice Inquiry Guide for Students

 

Science of Innovation: Electronic Tattoo

Use this guide to investigate a question about electrical properties of different materials.

Write your report in your science notebook.

 

Ask Beginning Questions

The video makes me think about these questions….

 

Design Investigations

Choose one question. How can you answer it? Brainstorm with your teammates. Write a procedure that controls variables and makes accurate measurements. Look up information as needed. Add safety precautions. Use the prompts below to help focus your thinking.

         Information we need to understand before we can start our investigation is….

         The materials we will use are….

         The variable we will test is….

         The variables we will control are….

         The steps we will follow are….

         To conduct the investigation safely, we will….

 

Record Data and Observations

Record your observations. Organize your data in tables, graphs, and sketches as appropriate.

 

Make a Claim Backed by Evidence

Analyze your data and then make one or more claims based on the evidence your data shows. Make sure that the claim goes beyond summarizing the relationship between the variables.

 

My Evidence

My Claim

My Reason

 

 

 

 

 

 

Compare Findings

Review the video and then discuss your results with classmates who investigated the same or a similar question. Or do research on the Internet, or talk to an expert. How do your findings compare? Be sure to give credit to others when you use their findings in your comparisons.

         My ideas are similar to (or different from) those of the experts in the video in that….

         My ideas are similar to (or different from) those of my classmates in that….

         My ideas are similar to (or different from) those that I found on the Internet in that….

 

Reflect on Learning

Think about your results. How do they fit with what you already knew? How do they change what you thought you knew about the topic?

         My ideas about this topic have changed because of this evidence….

         My ideas changed in the following ways….

         I wish I had been able to spend more time on….

         Another investigation I would like to try is….

                                                                                          (page 8)


 

COPY MASTER: Focused Inquiry Guide for Students

 

Science of Innovation: Electronic Tattoo

Use this guide to investigate a question about how temperature might affect a semiconducting material. Write your report in your science notebook.

 

Ask Beginning Questions

How might temperature affect the resistivity of a semiconducting material?

 

Design Investigations

Brainstorm with your teammates how to answer the question. Decide on one idea and write a procedure that will allow you to gather valid data. Add safety precautions as needed. Use these prompts to help you design your investigation.

         The materials we will use to make our circuit include….

         We will measure resistivity by….

         The variable we will test is….

         We will change the variable by….

         The responding variable will be….

         The variables we will control, or keep the same, are….

         To conduct our investigation safely, we will….

 

Record Data and Observations

Organize your observations and data in a table. The table below is an example of one way to record how temperature affects the resistivity of a silicon diode.

 

Temperature and Silicon Diode Resistivity

 

Diode Temperature (oC)

 

Resistivity (kΩ)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(page 9)


 

Graph the Data

Plot your data on a graph like the one below. Remember that the independent variable, or the variable you tested, is plotted on the x-axis and the dependent, or responding, variable is plotted on the y-axis. Label the axes of your graph and give your graph a title.

 

 

 

Make a Claim Backed by Evidence

Analyze your data and then make one or more claims based on the evidence shown by your data. Make sure that the claim goes beyond summarizing the relationship between the variables.

 

My Evidence

My Claim

My Reason

 

 

 

 

 

 

Compare Findings

Review the video and then discuss your results with classmates who investigated the same or a similar question. Or do research on the Internet or talk with an expert. How do your findings compare? Be sure to give credit to others when you use their findings in your comparisons.

         My ideas are similar to (or different from) those of the experts in the video in that….

         My ideas are similar to (or different from) those of my classmates in that….

         My ideas are similar to (or different from) those that I found on the Internet in that….

 

Reflect on Learning

Think about what you found out. How does it fit with what you already knew? How does it change what you thought you knew?

         My ideas about this topic have changed because of this evidence….

         My ideas changed in the following ways….

         I wish I had been able to spend more time on….

         Another investigation I would like to try is….

 

(page 10)

 


 

Copy Master: Assessment Rubric for Inquiry Investigations

 

 

Criteria

1 point

2 points

3 points

Initial question

Question had a yes/no answer, was off topic, or otherwise was not researchable or testable.

Question was researchable or testable but too broad or not answerable by the chosen investigation.

Question clearly stated, researchable or testable, and showed direct relationship to investigation.

Investigation design

The design of the investigation did not support a response to the initial question.

While the design supported the initial question, the procedure used to collect data  (e.g., number of trials, or control of variables) was not sufficient.

Variables were clearly identified and controlled as needed with steps and trials that resulted in data that could be used to answer the question.

Variables

Either the dependent or independent variable was not identified.

While the dependent and independent variables were identified, no controls were present.

Variables identified and controlled in a way that results in data that can be analyzed and compared.

Safety procedures

Basic laboratory safety procedures were followed, but practices specific to the activity were not identified.

Some, but not all, of the safety equipment was used and only some safe practices needed for this investigation were followed.

Appropriate safety equipment used and safe practices adhered to.

Observations and data

Observations were not made or recorded, and data are unreasonable in nature, not recorded, or do not reflect what actually took place during the investigation.

Observations were made, but were not very detailed, or data appear invalid or were not recorded appropriately.

Detailed observations were made and properly recorded and data are plausible and recorded appropriately.

Claim

No claim was made or the claim had no relationship to the evidence used to support it.

Claim was marginally related to evidence from investigation.

Claim was backed by investigative or research evidence.

Findings comparison

Comparison of findings was limited to a description of the initial question.

Comparison of findings was not supported by the data collected.

Comparison of findings included both methodology and data collected by at least one other entity.

Reflection

Student reflection was limited to a description of the procedure used.

Student reflections were not related to the initial question.

Student reflections described at least one impact on thinking.

 

(page 11)

 

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