We've already had snow in Boston, and the fall conference season is upon us, with some excellent opportunities for those interested in learning more about researcher - ISE partnership craft. First up on the schedule, the Association of Science-Technology Centers conference, which provides a splendid opportunity to get away to Fort Worth for Halloween (Oct 31 - Nov 3).
The National Institutes of Health maintains a 30 billion dollar portfolio of health and biomedical research, a yearly budget that roundly trumps that of the National Science Foundation (about 7 billion) and the National Nanotechnology Initiative (1.6 billion). Although NIH has no “Broader Impacts” criterion in its RFPs, it does expect researchers to contribute to education and outreach. This is fairly fertile territory for science museums to explore, perhaps through nurturing relationships with local NIH-funded research institutes. Now there's an interesting new development.
Several times in the past (check the RISE Group Page), I’ve written about the problem of last-minute-itis among NSF grant proposal writers. Symptoms of this illness are well-known to grant administrators at universities as well as at science museums, and, let’s face it, we’ve all succumbed to its indignities at one time or another. FastLane has to become a very WideLane on the deadline day for grant submission.
A short time ago, I heard from a veteran program officer in one of the NSF science research directorates that she was skeptical about the strategy of apportioning funds from these directorates to fund the NISE Net. Why not give the funds directly to the individual nano research centers to bolster their own education and outreach (E&O) programs? Why set up a whole new Informal Science Education (ISE) infrastructure to do it?
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