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  • Created 08 Jul 2013

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Purdue University is the founding site and headquarters of the EPICS (Engineering Projects in Community Service) program. The motivation behind the EPICS High school program is to enable high school students to connect engineering and computing design with people and local community needs.

The overarching goals for EPICS High include:

  1. To create and disseminate sustainable EPICS High models through: teacher development, materials and resources, and teacher support.
  2. To create and distribute a curriculum to teach design at the high school and middle school level through service-learning.
  3. To increase students’ awareness of and interest in engineering and computing fields and service-learning opportunities in STEM fields through the EPICS High model.
  4. To implement an assessment and research plan to measure the impact of EPICS High on students, teachers and communities.
  5. To develop sustainable sources of funding to administer and grow the EPICS High program.
  6. To build a solid network of partnerships for EPICS High, including high schools, middle schools, universities/colleges, non-profits, industry, foundations and professional societies.

This group contains the following:

EPICS High Nano Schools

Three schools have already begun implementing nanotechnology into their EPICS Projects. These schools and their projects are highlighted in the following profiles.

Xavier College Preparatory, Phoenix, AZ

 An exceptional example of EPICS High at work is Xavier College Prep (XCP) in Phoenix, Arizona. In the fall of 2013 XCP began their fourth year using the EPICS model. What sets XCP apart, aside from outstanding academics, is that it is an all girl’s high school. The EPICS model immediately caught on at the school, merging student interest in service learning and outstanding academics with themes the Catholic school found integrated well with Catholic themes of social service. There are currently over 150 students involved in various EPICS high projects, and nearly 500 students have participated in EPICS High since the program began in 2010. Xavier has taken on the challenge of implementing nanotechnology in a unique, educational format. The girls participating in the EPICS High nano project are creating educational activities to present to the middle school students who attend the annual Xavier “Girls Have IT” day. Activities include discovery of size and scale as it pertains to nanotechnology and its use in the world around us.

Agawam High School, Feeding Hills, MA

Agawam High School is a charter member of the EPICS High program. Located in rural Massachusetts, Agawam has a student population of approximately 1300. The EPICS program is a curricular part of the Grade 10 College Prep Biology course.  At Agawam High School, EPICS students are studying nanotechnology through marine aquaculture. Students are cultivating photosynthetic algae to examine and experiment with hundreds of species of diatoms. Modern applications for diatoms include controlled carbon fixation, information storage and transmission, biosensors and optical technology. Diatoms lend themselves to nanotechnology because the cells become smaller with each generation. In May, teams of EPICS students will travel to our Junior High to share their results and present an original Power Point on nanotechnology careers in marine biology. Another future nanotechnology project will involve the study of nanoparticles in the sea which may influence climate change.

North Penn High School, Philadelphia, PA

North Penn High School has implemented nanotechnology into EPICS in a novel way, especially compared to other EPICS High Schools. Already existing in the school is a Nanotechnology Research course with a focus on the functionalization of polymer nanofibers for various applications in energy, healthcare and the environment. Heathcare and environmental applications include antibacterial fabrics, concussion detection and prevention and water and air filtration. Turning this research course into service-learning human-centered design projects takes the research to the next level where students are now trying to create the solutions to these problems. In the 2014-15 academic year, students are continuing the study of of the nano-tims from last year and possibly looking into the development of a thermoelectric fabric for harvesting electricity from temperature difference. More information about student research and projects can be found at Additionally, a video of one the projects can be found at

Sammamish High School, Bellevue WA

Students are being exposed to Nanotechnology in class with an overview of the topic and activities to introduce applications of nanotechnology.
Students will then use their learning to develop an outreach for local elementary schools that feed into Sammamish High School. The students will choose between the following options:

1) Hosting an nanotechnology fair either on-site at SHS or at a local elementary school. In either case, the fairs would include a combination of games and demonstrations with prizes.
2) Developing learning tools (games) that can be used in elementary school rooms. Students would have the option of
bringing the games to classrooms and playing the games with the elementary school students and could also include
demonstrations when games are presented. In each case, the goal will be to introduce the elementary school age
students to nanotechnology and applications of nanotechnology.

Sizer School, Fitchburg MA

Nanotechnology projects will be incorporated into Freshman Engineering, Chemistry and Physics classes and be used at an end of the year Nanofair that will teach middle school students about Nanotechnology.  Potential projects include nanostructure jewelry made with a 3D printer and various exhibits including demonstrating quantum dots and carbon nanotubes.

Ironwood High School, Glendale AZ

Students at Ironwood High School will use Nanotechnology at study solar and Photovoltaic technology. A solar laboratory will be completely planned, designed, and built by the students according to the needs that have been identified within the community.  The solar laboratory will provide a laboratory type classroom for presentations to our diverse audience (elementary, high school, community college, university, and the local community) where our students will demonstrate technology and computer interfaces that are powered strictly by solar energy.  The high tech equipment, nanotechnology, and hands-on activities will be created for use in the solar lab and will be designed to pique the interest of younger students and keep them focused on that curiosity they possess for science and engineering concepts.  Students taking part in the program will create products they can take away with them to show other students at their schools.

Palo Verde High School, Tucson AZ

Nanotechnology will be taught in Palo Verde Engineering classes and will be used in a project for Palo Verde's main engineering outreach trailer to teach nanotechnology principles to middle school students.





Teacher Training 2014

Interested in finding out more about EPICS High? Consider coming to our teacher training July 8-11, 2014. Training will take place on the campus of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. For more information visit:, a resource for nanoscience and nanotechnology, is supported by the National Science Foundation and other funding agencies. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.