An Illinois high school will install two cutting-edge nanotechnology lab stations for students, making it a leader in STEM education.

Students at an Illinois high school will have an opportunity to study nanotechnology in a special lab featuring equipment that typically isn’t seen in high schools, local officials said.

Over the summer, Wheeling High School in Wheeling, Ill., will install two lab stations in a second-floor classroom, Principal Lazaro Lopez said. Township High School District 214 has budgeted $243,000 to retrofit the space now used as a multi-purpose lab, and officials are in the process of seeking grants to pay for the equipment. The total cost of the lab is estimated at $800,000.

The four-piece set of equipment forming a nanotechnology lab station includes a nanoparticle characterization instrument, an advanced LED fluorescence microscope, an atomic force microscope, and a desktop nanofabrication system. Each set costs $280,000, according to Jim Hussey, chief executive office of NanoInk Inc., which sells the NanoProfessor program, consisting of research machines and curriculum.

Nanotechnology itself is not a simple concept. Nanoparticles are measured in billionths of a meter. At that size, scientists have been able to manipulate properties in a new way and that’s being used to innovate everything from medical devices to makeup.

(Next page: How instructors will learn and teach about nanotechnology; benefits of the program for students)