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NISE Network Year in Review 2021

Catherine McCarthy, Arizona State University
NISE Network logo - vertical color reverse

The year 2021 was challenging for many of us individually, as well as for our organizations and communities. We are so impressed with how NISE Network partners have continued to  creatively address ongoing challenges and offered suggestions and assistance to one another during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have all been adapting to changing health and safety conditions while still continuing to engage the public in STEM in-person and online. 

We know that many of you have changed employers or are seeking new opportunities due to the ongoing financial pressures and disruption of the pandemic; wherever you are, please do continue to stay in touch with the NISE Network community. We always appreciate hearing from you!

Despite all these challenges, NISE Network partners have continued to engage the public nationwide in STEM. Here are some highlights from 2021.



Screen shot of a museum educator building a model rover out of recyclables
Mars R​​​over build challenge!
Photo courtesy:
Arizona Science Center

Partners engaging the public in 2021:

  • Mars Rover landing in February 2021
    Museums all over the United States celebrated the NASA Perseverance mission and landing with a variety of public engagement programs both in-person and online.  Programs covered a variety of content focused on the science behind the mission, the engineering to land the mission, and past and future exploration on Mars.
    Read More



uffalo Museum of Science June 10, 2021 solar eclipse rooftop viewing
June 2021 Solar Eclipse
Shared via Facebook:
Buffalo Museum of Science
  • Solar Eclipse in June 2021 
    Community members, science enthusiasts, astronomy lovers, and stargazers gathered in parks and on rooftops, virtually and in-person to look to the skies and celebrate the annular solar eclipse. 
    Read more about partner events







Sublimation Bubbles - Eastern Oregon University
Sublimation Bubbles
Explore Science: 
Let's Do Chemistry activity
Photo courtesy of
Eastern Oregon University 








Professional learning 

  • 90 Partner organizations have been participating in the IMLS-funded Sustainability Fellowships in cohorts D, and E, while cohort F is starting up in January 2022; These fellowships support museums and similar cultural organizations in their efforts to integrate sustainability into all aspects of their institution, including decision-making, operations, programs, and community partnerships
  • 11 Partner organizations have participated in the Howtosmile IMLS-funded project designed to create an at-home activities framework and catalog representative at-home STEAM activities



Earth and Space learning framework connecting activities to learning concepts

New products featured on the website include:

Working with STEM Experts Guide cover including an image of expert  puring a liquid and using a strainer with a girl and her family at a museum public event
  • Working with STEM Experts guide
    Professional development guide to help informal STEM educators find, prepare, and work with STEM experts to engage with the public.








  • Sustainability and Museums: Cover Guide featuring a father and young child interacting with a giant balloon
    Sustainable Futures Professional Development Resources 

    Professional development training tools to prepare educators to plan and implement sustainability projects and facilitate sustainability activities.





Sun, Earth, Universe exhibition Birdseye view of visitors interacting with exhibits



Birdseye view of Nano exhibition with visitors.


Learn more about the Nano exhibitions that are now ten years old and how copies are still finding new audiences at new museums.


If you are looking for a copy of either exhibition or looking to find a new home for your copy, contact your regional hub leader and we can add you to a waiting list to match you with a copy


Looking Ahead


  • 5 Online workshops scheduled for the next six months:
  • Sustainability Fellowships support museums and similar cultural organizations in their efforts to integrate sustainability into all aspects of their institution, including decision-making, operations, programs, and community partnerships; cohort E is continuing their work, and cohort F starts in 2022
  • Earth & Space project-based professional learning community of 100 partner organizations participating in the NASA-funded project focusing on making Earth & Space science relevant and inclusive for their local communities
  • James Webb Space Telescope first images are expected summer 2022 - NASA community event opportunities to celebrate these First Light (Early Release Observation) images; stay tuned for more opportunities to hold community events this summer
  • Changing Brains will hold stakeholder meetings on a new framework for neuroethics engagement—combining public engagement and neuroethics, looking forward to new activities and programming. This work funded by the Dana Foundation, will also connect the Network with the Civic Science Fellows program.
  • Diversity, Equity, Access, and Inclusion (DEAI) digital tools


  • Build a Mars Habitat exhibit component addition to the Sun, Earth, Universe exhibition
  • Destination Moon activities and new DIY mobile app (we are anticipating 350 physical toolkits to be delivered to recipients of Explore Science: Earth & Space 2020 toolkits in 2023)
  • MakingWaves hands-on activities that explore radio technologies and their connections to society will be made available on These activities will be attached to a larger set of digital tools created by partners including mobile apps and an in-depth camp curriculum. 


Stay in Touch!

  • Share your stories with us! Contact your regional hub leader to be featured in the newsletter and highlight the amazing work you’re doing. Check out past partner highlights for examples:
  • New to the NISE Network? Check out Getting Started
  • Face to Face! We look forward to being able to interact and see each other as health and safety conditions allow