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Nano Bite: August 2010

Welcome to the August Nano Bite, the monthly e-newsletter for the Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network (NISE Net).

It's August!  Congress is on vacation!  Perhaps you are, too.  In celebration of August, we have a sun-and-sand themed Nano Bite this month with extra haikus (plus a splash about our upcoming science cafe workshop).

It seems questions about the safety of nanoparticles in sunscreen come up every year around this time.  This year, Friends of the Earth posted an article that was critical of nano-particles in sunscreens ("make nano a no-no on your summer vacation!").  Andrew Maynard, the Director of the University of Michigan Risk Science Center (and NISE Net advisor), posted a reply on his blog questioning some of the conclusions Friends of the Earth were drawing from the studies they cited.  The Environmental Working Group also has an investigation of nanotechnology and sunscreens that draws some different conclusions, read it here.

Two activities related to sunscreen:

More interested in sand than sun?  Check out the NISE Net's Magic Sand activity, a cart demo that demonstrates how nanoscale changes in a material affect how that materials behaves at the macroscale.  Visitors compare how magic sand and regular sand interact with water. and xplore how "magic" sand repels water because of a nanoscale hydrophobic coating.

What else?

Online Workshop: How to Start a Nano Science Cafe
Science cafes are live events in casual settings like pubs or coffeehouses, where scientists engage the public in conversations about current science topics. From September 13 – 24,  the NISE Network will offer a two-week online workshop that will introduce you to science cafes with a nano theme. Discussion will be led by three moderators who have run successful cafe series in their own communities: Amanda Thomas (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry), Brad Herring (Museum of Life and Science), and Jen Larese (WGBH).

Enrollment for the workshop opens August 6 and closes on September 3.  You can find out more about the science cafe workshop and how to enroll on at
Thank you for participating in our evaluation studies!
Data collection for our Year 5 evaluation studies is almost complete! Thank you for your continued participation in our Network surveys, interviews and observations.  Your feedback has been critical for informing Network decision-making over the past five years, and is already playing a key role in shaping the next five years of the Network.  Almost 100 of our evaluation reports are already posted on for all of you to read and share, many of which provide useful information about implementing NISE Net kits, programs and exhibits at your own institution. Look for results from our Year 5 summative evaluation activities early this fall.

As some of you may remember, the incentive for the big NISE Network partner survey was a drawing to win free registration to a professional development conference. Two individuals were randomly selected from the 152 respondents who completed the survey:

               Erica Segraves, Mamie Doud Eisenhower Public Library
               Manju Prakash, Linden Hall

Congratulations to both Erica and Manju and thanks again to all of you who participated.

Nano Haikus

Teeny-tiny stuff,
you act so different now.
Wish you were still big.

by Leigha Horton of the Science Museum of Minnesota.  Interested in how teeny-tiny stuff acts different?  See the NISE Net's science theater play Nano Dreams and Nano Nightmares and hands-on activity Exploring Properties - Surface Area.

A hot summer day?
Try some fresh nano ice cream
but in large portions.

by Luke Donev of the Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas, TX.  Brad's recipe is posted on the Nano Bite blog here.
(More haikus are up on the Nano Bite blog at

Questions? Haikus? Contributions to the newsletter? Contact Vrylena Olney at [email protected]