Continuing advances in human ability to manipulate matter at the atomic and molecular levels (i.e. nanoscale science and technology) offer a range of previously unimagined possibilities for scientific discovery and technological application. Paralleling these scientific advances is the increasing realization that a number of associated ethical, environmental, economic, legal and social implications also need to be explored . Additionally, prominent commentators such as Mihail Roco  of the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative (www.nano.gov) have argued that “education and training [in scientific concepts at the nanoscale] must be introduced at all levels, from kindergarten to continuing education, from scientists to non-technical audiences that may decide the use of technology and its funding” (p. 1248).
The paper below is structured in three inter-related sections. The first section provides a brief report on science education research conducted in the third year of an initial 3-year National Science Foundation funded Research Experiences for Undergraduates program in nanoscience and nanotechnology at the University of Central Florida. Participating undergraduate students and research faculty were asked to respond to a survey -adapted from Bainbridge - that attempted to measure their attitudes to a variety of social and ethical issues currently associated with nanoscale science and engineering research. Selected findings are presented, and implications for the future of K-16 science education, undergraduate engineering education and Science-Technology-Society (STS) studies also are briefly discussed.
Consideration of social and ethical issues associated with nanotechnology research will generate several implications for general scientific literacy and public science education policy. Some of these implications are addressed in the second section. Given the extent to which these new technologies are expected to impact all aspects of human experience, public scientific literacy regarding nanotechnology becomes an issue of considerable importance. Here, the onus falls on science educators at the K-12 and university levels to become knowledgeable about nanoscale science and engineering research, and to share their pedagogical expertise with nanotechnology researchers. This section of the presentation will focus on the “social and ethical issues in science” K-12 standards already present in national documents such as the U.S. National Science Education Standards, the American Association for the Advancement of Science's Project 2061 Benchmarks for Scientific Literacy, and the British National Curriculum. Specific examples from current research in nanoscale science and engineering are used to demonstrate how various nanoscale science/engineering concepts may usefully be incorporated into the K-12 science curriculum.
The third section of the paper provides an overview of selected international efforts in K-16 nanoscale science and engineering education, and briefly discusses various instructional approaches and techniques that are likely to be useful for other science and engineering educators. Examples are used from a forthcoming book on nanoscale science and engineering education for which the author is a co-editor.