Partner Highlight: Informal Science Learning Associates (ISLA)

Aaron Guerrero

The Informal Science Learning Associates (ISLA) is a newly-formed nonprofit organization dedicated to improving educational opportunities for all children. A museum without walls, ISLA provides interactive programming in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to promote life-long learning in the community and surrounding communities of Laredo, Texas. ISLA educators are bilingual/bicultural trainers in professional development, early childhood with emphasis in Montessori, robotics from elementary through high school ages, and outreach to underserved audiences with special emphasis on gender-equity. Most of the ISLA educators have been NISE Net members for years, participating in past NanoDays events in different organizations and are proudly continuing their NISE Net partnership with the new ISLA.

One of ISLA’s first big events was hosting NanoDays events at local high schools. Melissa R. Cigarroa, ISLA Lead Educator explains how it went:

"Introducing a glimpse of the fascinating world of nanotechnology to high school kids was a great way to launch ISLA in south Laredo and we spent a couple of afternoons translating the nuts and bolts of nano to the bilingual students. Landing at Leonides Cigarroa and United South High Schools during their lunch periods, we initially were unsure of the reception we would receive. We quickly adjusted to crowds of kids who experimented with 'Tiny Cups' or were awed by 'Nano Gold.' The 'Butterfly Wing' puzzled quite a few of them, and the 'Scanning Probe Microscope' provoked lots of questions. As always, engaging in meaningful conversation about the array of opportunities this field provides for future study and employment connected with these students' curiosity and thinking. Translating a good deal of that information to Spanish to reach this bilingual audience challenged us but proved that the language of science is universal. NanoDays provided a unique opportunity to broaden the horizons of kids unfamiliar with this emerging technology but enthralled by its possibilities." 

You can find more more Spanish-language resources at www.nisenet.org/catalog/spanish.