Skip to main content

NISE Network Year in Review 2023

Catherine McCarthy, Arizona State University
2023 written by sparklers

When reflecting on this past year, we are filled with gratitude to be able to collaborate with all of you! This past year we continued to increase our capacity as professionals and organizations to engage the public in STEM topics throughout the United States. Our strength as a Network comes from our collaboration as dedicated professionals, and our impact comes from the work we all do to engage our local communities.

NISE Network logo - vertical color reverse

Thank you to everyone who participates in our community!

Here are some of our favorite Network moments of 2023.


2023 Annular Eclipse_Child Viewing Outside The Bell Museum StPaul MN.jpg

Partners Engaging the Public in 2023

Here are just a few examples of partners engaging local communities throughout the United States:

  • Partners celebrating the 2023 Annual Solar Eclipse
    Partners nationwide celebrated the October 2023 annual solar eclipse. Learn more 

    More resources to get ready for the April 8, 2024 total solar eclipse.



  • boo_bubbles activity at Kansas Children's Discovery Center.jpg
    The Kansas Children’s Discovery Center in Topeka Ignites a Love of Science in Children
    The Kansas Children’s Discovery Center, a children’s museum in the capital city of Kansas, has had a longstanding partnership with the NISE Network that has helped ignite a love of science in children. Children’s museums are educational laboratories where children’s excitement to learn is expressed in high-energy wiggles, an insatiable need to not just watch, but try, and a torrent of tangential questions. For the team at our museum, the ability to rely upon a tried-and-trusted resource like NISE Network to engage our small scientists has been invaluable. Learn more
  • Early Explorers Program - Young Girl Doing a Science Experiment
    Early Explorers at Spark! Imagination and Science Center in Morgantown, West Virginia
    Inspired by the NISE Network’s, Exploring Science Practices: Early Exploration hands-on activity for early learners, Spark! Imagination and Science Center in Morgantown, West Virginia created its Early Explorers program. Early Explorers is a drop-in, hands-on science program for kids 4 and younger and their grown-ups. Each Early Explorers program has a unique theme with 2-3 hands-on activities that explore that theme. Themes have included Simple Machines, Measuring, Rainbow Lab, Shadows, and much more. Spark uses a mix of NISE Network activities and supplemental activities for these programs.
    Learn more
  • Wonder Works Space Weekend 2023 - Story Blocks Activity Table
    Pizza and Planetary Science at Wonder Works Children’s Museum in Oak Park, IL
    Wonder Works Children’s Museum integrated multiple years of NISE Network Explore Science: Earth and Space toolkits into one fun-filled family Space Weekend: Our visitors at the museum tend to be very young (birth to age 8, with the majority falling between 2-6 years old). In an informal setting where their experiences might not always involve an adult, some of the materials can be too advanced for these very young learners. So we approached our Space Weekend as a "takeover event" where we transformed the museum into all things SPACE!
    Learn more
  • Choctawhatchee Bay Estuary Mural at the Emerald Coast Science Center
    Choctawhatchee Bay Estuary Mural at the Emerald Coast Science Center, Fort Walton Beach, Florida
    Harley Peters of the Emerald Coast Science Center, took the time to share more about an exciting project that started with the NISE Network’s Earth & Space Project-Based Professional Learning Community. They worked with local artist and museum community partner, Andrew Wargo, to create a piece for guests to learn about the importance of the waterways in this area and how we can protect these waterways as well as the plants and animals found around them.
    Learn more
  • Greensboro Science Center family science night with families crowded around an hands-on activity table

    Family Science Nights in Greensboro, NC
    Greensboro Science Center recently conducted Family Science Nights at two local Title 1 schools: Jefferson Elementary School and Guilford Elementary School in Greensboro, North Carolina. The Greensboro Science Center provided 12 hands-on activity stations set up both inside and outside the schools. 
    Learn more

  • Read more highlights of partners engaging the public

Professional Learning 


  • Sustainability Fellows meeting attendees participating in group activity in Phoenix Arizona 2023.
    Sustainability Fellowships
    Over the past three years, 90 partner organizations have participated in the IMLS-funded Sustainability Fellowships as a part of cohorts D, E, and F. These fellowships supported 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. The project wrapped up with an in-person meeting to share and learn from each other in Spring 2023. Explore sustainability resources available. 


  • CoCreation Participants in Durham North Carolina housing discussions
    Co-created Public Engagement Programs
    As part of the NSF-funded Building Capacity For Co-Created Public Engagement with Science project led by the Museum of Science, Boston, a group of partners from around the country used a co-creation model to work with civic and community partners to create and host public engagement with science activities.



  • People talking during Engaging Hispanic Communities meeting discussions in Charlotte North Carolina 2023
    Engaging Hispanic Communities Initiative 
    Through two complementary NASA-funded projects, the NISE Network will increase the capacity of informal educators to engage Hispanic communities across the United States in learning about NASA science through the use of culturally relevant bilingual Spanish-English materials based on NASA assets.
    Development continues on these projects; we will be sharing more professional development resources in 2024 and 2025.


STEM Learning Ecosystem generalized example in context with large text culture, society, and place
  • STEM Learning Ecosystems Project
    STEM learning ecosystems unite people, groups, and resources to create science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) engagement and education experiences for all people throughout their lifetimes. 
    Development continues on this project; we will be sharing more professional development resources in 2024 and 2025.

An adult and a child holds a metal baking sheet above the antennae of a Wi-Fi router on a block of wood, placed on a table. Another child holds a shell of tinfoil around a block of wood placed apart from the first block.

New Products in 2023

  • Making Waves with Radio Kit
    A downloadable kit of hands-on activities, mobile apps, and camp curriculum to support informal educators engaging public audiences on the science, technologies, and societal implications behind radio wave communications.


  • cards showing human attributes and robot jobs
    Changing Brains Kit
    A downloadable collection of public engagement and professional development resources about the brain, neuroscience, and neuroethics. Also included are resources for annual events including Brain Awareness Week, World Brain Day, Mental Wellness Month, and more public engagement events.


  • Voyage through the Solar System Breath of Fresh Air learners using water dropper
    Voyage through the Solar System Kit
    Toolkit of hands-on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) activities based on NASA's continuing pursuit of human exploration of the Moon and Mars and a mobile app that launches users further into the solar system. Physical and digital resources will be shared to leverage local partnerships to engage diverse audiences and support at home STEM learning beyond museum walls.
    Physical kits were shipped to 350 partners nationwide, with all digital assets also available for download!




  • screenshots of the DIY Solar System app on a phone and tablet
    DIY Solar System App
    DIY Solar System includes 11 easy-to-use activities to learn about space travel, living in space, and the unique objects that make up the planetary system we call home. Design a Moon base, grow your own space garden, or experience what it is like to control a rover on Mars! Each activity includes step-by-step instructions that have been tested by educators, kids, and families. Activity materials are easily available and inexpensive—you may already have many of them in your home!

   Available for iPhones/iPads and Android devices, in both English and Spanish!

Screen shot of the DIY Sun Science app with Children using DIY Sun Science app activities
  • DIY Sun Science App
    DIY Sun Science includes 15 easy-to-use hands-on activities to learn about the Sun and its important relationship with Earth. Learn how to cook in a solar oven, measure the size of the Sun, or explore shadows in model Moon craters! Each activity includes step-by-step instructions that have been tested by educators, kids, and families. Activity materials are easily available and inexpensive.

   Available for iPhones/iPads and Android devices, in both English and Spanish!


NISE Network_Solar Eclipse slide presentation overview showing a partial eclipse of the Sun



  • Girl using paint in nebula spin art activity
    Browse by Theme and Topics resource collections We have continued to expand our collections so it is easier to integrate activities on the website into existing programs, themes, and seasonal activities.


Build a Human Habitat on Mars - group of children building at exhibit

New Exhibits in 2023

  • Build a Human Habitat on Mars exhibit component was distributed to 52 partner sites across the US
    Build a Human Habitat on Mars is a hands-on exhibit designed to inspire, engage, and educate the next generation of explorers about human exploration on Mars. For people to live on Mars, we will need to develop technology and systems that will allow humans to survive and thrive. Survival means there are processes in place to maintain the bare minimum for human life to exist: water to drink, oxygen to breathe, shelter from the harsh environment, and much more. Thriving on Mars requires making special efforts to stay healthy both physically and mentally. This means having resources to keep your mind and body active, like your favorite book, music, comfort foods, hobbies, exercise, and ways that allow you to transition your day-to-day routines to a new and very different planet from our own. The exhibit component is designed to be integrated into the Sun, Earth, Universe (SEU) exhibition and was distributed during the first part of 2023.


  • Family interacting together with Mission Future exhibition

    Mission Future exhibition opened at the Arizona Science Center
    Mission Future: Arizona 2045 is a 2,500 square foot interactive exhibition developed by Arizona State University (ASU) in collaboration with Arizona Science Center, NASA, and numerous additional local and national partners. Mission Future integrates authentic Earth and space science, imaginative storytelling, an immersive environment, and hands-on activities to explore what Arizona might be like in the year 2045. Told through the perspective of five diverse characters from the future, the exhibition explores some of the ways climate change will affect life on our home planet, as well as some of the opportunities future humans will have to study, live, and work off Earth. The exhibition opened in February 2023 for long-term display at the Arizona Science Center.


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

Existing Exhibitions on Display

These existing NISE Network exhibitions continue to be on display at partner sites across the Nation:


Birdseye view of Nano exhibition with visitors.


If you are looking for a copy of either exhibition or looking to find a new home for your own copy, please contact Christina Leavell, our Community Manager. We can add those interested to our exhibit waiting lists, as well as assist current hosts with connections to interested partners.


Moon Adventure Game Summative Evaluation Report 2023 July cover

Evaluation Findings

Our evaluation teams have been working to understand and summarize the public and professional impacts of projects; significant work completed this year includes:

Behind the Scenes in 2023

STEM Activity Kit Production at a Warehouse with Boxes and Materials Lined Up
Fabrication setup for production of 350 copies of the Explore Science: Voyage through the Solar System kit. 
Man Standing Proudly with 350 STEM Learning Kits
Completed Kits awaiting shipment to the 350 institutions awarded during the summer of 2023.




The NISE Network's projects are generously supported by our funders.

Without their vital support these efforts would not be possible.
We sincerely thank our funders for their generous support.