Located within a public school system where 73% of the students are Hispanic, the Las Cruces Museum of Natural History (LCMNH) in Las Cruces, New Mexico strives to find new and successful ways to reach their vastly diverse and often underserved audiences. In collaboration with Scientifically Connected Communities (SC2) at New Mexico State University, the LCMNH received a NISE Network 2011 mini-grant allowing them to create a series of bilingual teacher and student resource kits focusing on different themes of nanoscience.
This program, titled Suitcase Science, allows the LCMNH to offer teacher training workshops on how to use the kits and the opportunity to loan them out free of charge to schools in the Las Cruces and Gadsden school districts of southern New Mexico. Themes for the Suitcase Science kits include: Nano 101, Nano Applications & Tools, Nanomedicine, and Nano & the Environment. Each kit comes complete with a binder of lesson plans and demonstrations for teachers and all necessary supplies for a class of 30 students to work in teams. In addition to the kits, museum staff also visit each classroom loaned a Suitcase Science kit for either a pre-visit to introduce the topic, or a post-visit presentation to review everything they learned on nanoscience.
Utilizing NISE Net materials previously translated from English to Spanish, the LCMNH is able to offer the Suitcase Science program as a bilingual teacher and student resource. Creating bilingual kits is a necessity in bringing cutting edge science into southern New Mexico classrooms in an accessible, engaging, and hands-on way.
The Suitcase Science program is just one example of LCMNH’s continued efforts in offering nano education. The LCMNH is currently in the process of moving to a new facility where they will soon be able to utilize more NISE Net resources in their new Discovery Lab and themed classes throughout the year. You can check them out at: http://www.las-cruces.org/Departments/Public%20Services/Services/Museums/Natural%20History%20Museum.aspx
You can find a complete list of the NISE Net's Spanish-language resources at www.nisenet.org/catalog/spanish
This partner highlight was written by Tim Hecox from the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, the regional hub leader for the West hub.