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The instructor introduces Nitinol, a shape memory alloy (SMA).  Upon heating, Nitinol wire returns to its original shape.  Students explore Nitinol's characteristics in two investigations and design an experiment.  Finally, students learn about its practical applications.


Students should have an introductory understanding of nanotechnology that can be provided by Kits 1 and 2.

Instruction Time:

Approximately 50-60 minutes


Middle or high school students


Students will investigate the unique properties of an alloy called Nitinol, design an experiment using Nitinol, understand the connection between Nitinol's atomic structure and its physical characteristics, and learn about Nitinol's applications.


  • National Science Education Standards:

    • Content Standard A: Understandings about Scientific Inquiry.
    • Content Standard B. Properties and Changes of Properties in Matter.
    • Content Standard E: Understandings about Science and Technology.
  • NCTM Standards:

    • Understand measurable attributes of objects and the units, systems, and processes of measurement.
  • Illinois State Science Learning Standards:

    • 11.A.3b. Conduct scientific experiments that control all but one variable.
    • 12.C.5b. Analyze the properties of materials (e.g. mass, boiling point, melting point, hardness) in relation to their physical and/or chemical structures.
  • Illinois State Math Learning Standards:

    • 7.A.3b. Apply the concepts and attributes of length, capacity, weight/mass, perimeter, area, volume, time, temperature, and angle measures in practical situations.


  • 1 evaluation
  • 30 assessments
  • PowerPoint presentation and documents on CD
  • overhead transparencies of slides
  • 1 piece of Nano-Tex fabric
  • 1 large plastic plate
  • 30 vitamin E capsules
  • 30 2" pieces of Nitinol
  • 30 4" pieces of Nitinol
  • 30 forceps
  • 30 pens
  • 30 disposable coffee cups
  • 3 bandages 
  • 15 candles
  • 15 cupcake holders
  • 2 small hair dryers
  • 1 small lamp with bulb
  • 4 packages of hand warmers
  • 1 plastic container for retraining/hot water experiment 
  • 30 copies of Lab Investigations 1,2 and 3
  • Lab Investigations 1,2, and 3 keys
  • 4 AA batteries in 2 battery holders
  • 1 case of BBs
  • 3 2-D models and 2 3-D models
  • 1 pair of eyeglasses with flexible frames

Teacher Needs:

  • LCD or overhead projector
  • 8 oz. container of cold water
  • matches or lighters
  • supply of hot water (using hot plate, coffee maker, or water warmer)
  • 30 pairs of goggles

Online Documens: