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Nano Bite: January 2015

Happy New Year from the NISE Network!

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


  • NISE Net News and Announcements - Video: Building Sustainable Museum-Scientist Partnerships, Getting Ready for NanoDays 2015: March 28 - April 5
  • Upcoming Events! - Stay Connected! Join One of Our Free Online Brown-Bag Conversations, Celebrate the International Year of Light 2015
  • Featured on the Website - Team-Based Inquiry (TBI) Cohort (2014) Organizations Describe Their Evaluation Capacity-Building Projects (video), The Future of Nanoscale Research and Development (blog post)
  • Partner Highlight - Real-World Examples of NISE Net's Team-Based Inquiry (TBI) - Maryland Science Center Shares Their Evaluation and Capacity Building Project
  • Nano in the News - Detecting Gases Wirelessly, Cheaply and Transmitting Information to a Smartphone
Video: Building Sustainable Museum-Scientist Partnerships
The NISE Network Impacts: Museum-Scientist Partnerships NanoDays and Beyond video highlights a museum-scientist partnership between the Marbles Kids Museum, Duke University, and NC State University called STEM Play Corps. This video not only provides perspectives about this project from individuals in this partnership but it also shows the impact that the NISE Network has had in assisting our partners with developing and sustaining their own local partnerships.

This video is part of a NISE Network Report to Partners resource package. The Report includes three related products: a printed report, a set of presentation slides, and two videos. Together, these resources allow NISE Network partners to learn about the impact of the Network and share it with others.

Getting Ready for NanoDays 2015: March 28 - April 5
We're busy packing up the NanoDays 2015 physical kits and getting all the digital files ready to post to This year's kit includes eight new hands-on activities and also includes planning and marketing materials for your event, professional development materials for staff and volunteer training, and training videos for all the NanoDays 2015 activities. The digital kit will be available for download at by the end of January.
  Stay Connected! Join One of Our Free Online Brown-Bag Conversations

Nano 101 - How to Introduce the Smallest Science
Wednesday, January 14, 2015: 2 pm - 3 pm ET

How can you present the basics of nano in just an hour or two? Join this discussion to learn how your colleagues introduce nano to different audiences. We’ll share our favorite examples, activities, and videos. [Sign up]

Videos 101 - Tips, Tricks, and Strategies for Small-Scale to Large-Scale Video Production
Monday, January 26, 2015: 1 pm - 2 pm ET
Advances in technology has placed the power of video production into the palm of your hand but knowing how best to utilize that power can be slightly more perplexing. Hear from NISE Net partners who have created a wide variety of video projects, big and small, and how they approach video production from start to finish. [Sign up]

The Science Behind NanoDays 2015 - Part 1
Wednesday, February 18, 2015: 2 pm - 3 pm ET

Are you interested in learning more about the science behind the NanoDays activities and how they relate to cutting-edge research? Join our presenter who will focus on the application and scientific background behind NISE Net activities related to graphene and nano-coatings, and discuss three new activities from the NanoDays 2015 kit: Exploring Materials - Graphene, Exploring Properties - Heat Transfer, and Exploring Products - Kinetic Sand. [Sign up]

Celebrate the International Year of Light (IYL) 2015
There are many ways you can get involved in International Year of Light (IYL) activities at your institution from partnering with local organizations or societies to host an IYL event, to incorporating some of NISE Net's hands-on activities, programs, or videos into your regular programming. Here are some resources to get you started in your planning:
  • Team-Based Inquiry (TBI) Cohort (2014) Organizations Describe Their Evaluation Capacity-Building Projects - NISE Net Videos
    Team-Based Inquiry (TBI) is the NISE Net's formative evaluation approach to helping educators get the data they need, when they need it, to improve their products and practices. Last year 20 staff from 10 institutions participated in an in-depth training to learn and practice TBI. Watch these staff present on their cohort projects and provide real-world examples of TBI in action in these videos! (And find out more about TBI here.)
  • The Future of Nanoscale Research and Development - NISE Net Blog Post
    Will nanomanufacturing one day overtake digital technology in terms of economic importance and societal impact? That is yet to be realized but was the message that NSF Senior Advisor for Nanotechnology, Mihail (Mike) Roco, and leader of NSF's contribution to the National Nanotechnology Initiative presented to the audience at the 2014 Nanoscale Science and Engineering Grantees Conference in Washington, DC. NISE Network Director, Larry Bell, was in attendance and draws a connection between the three stages of nanotechnology research and development outlined by Roco to the NISE Network.
Real-World Examples of NISE Net's Team-Based Inquiry (TBI) - Maryland Science Center Shares Their Evaluation and Capacity Building Project
By: Abby Goodlaxson, Maryland Science Center

Developed by the NISE Network, the TBI process involves an ongoing cycle of inquiry: question, investigate, reflect, and improve.

In 2014, Maryland Science Center
was awarded a NISE Net mini-grant and was invited to participate in the Team-Based Inquiry Cohort providing participants with in-depth TBI professional development training both virtually and in-person. As part of their mini-grant project, Maryland Science Center created a new program presented on their museum's demonstration stage introducing audiences to nanoscale science and engineering. The stage program was also supported by a training session on nanotechnology for staff and volunteers. 

As part of their TBI Cohort project, they conducted a study evaluating the newly developed program consisting of various evaluative methods pre- and post-program. Overall, audiences engaged successfully with hands-on materials and were able to invent novel applications of materials introduced during the show, resulting in an increase in audience rating of personal relevance of nano to their lives.
Additionally, Maryland Science Center conducted a secondary study of the staff training workshop consisting of surveys intended to assess staff comfort with and knowledge of nanoscale science. All staff attending the staff training reported an increase in knowledge for at least one aspect of nanoscale science, with 9 out of 10 participants reporting an increase in knowledge of how nano relates to everyday life.

To hear more about Maryland Science Center's full cohort project, watch their 2014 TBI Cohort project presentation.
Detecting Gases Wirelessly, Cheaply and Transmitting Information to a Smartphone
What if you could determine if fruit is ripe, if there's a hazard in the air, or even diagnose disease with a smartphone? Researchers from MIT have been developing unique gas-detecting sensors called chemiresistors, which, unlike commercially available sensors, require almost no energy and can function at ambient temperatures [video]. To make these wireless chemical sensors, or tags, MIT researchers modified the circuit by punching a hole in it and then reconnected it by using a pencil in which the graphite has been replaced with a carbon nanotube-based material and has been programmed for the detection of a specific chemical. The current changes within the sensor when a chemical is present, allowing a smartphone to detect these changes. These chemiresistors are making it possible to gather chemical information through a box or even a wall so that individuals do not have to come into contact with a potentially harmful chemical.


For a list of nano activities for use throughout the year, see NISE Net's list of seasonal activities.


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Read the Nano Bite e-newsletter online at /newsletter/nano-bite-january-2015.

Do you have something you would like to submit for inclusion in the NISE Network Nano Bite monthly e-newsletter? Please send your announcements, articles, or community acknowledgements to Kayla Berry, NISE Net Coordinator, at