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Nano Bite: June 2014

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

Check out NISE Network’s redesigned website for education professionals and scientists, which has a fresh new design with many great features including faster load times, more intuitive site navigation, catalog content presented front and center, straightforward filtering to help you find what you’re looking for with less hassle, a responsive design for a variety of technology devices and screen sizes, and so much more. Read more about website changes here.
If you haven't already, connect to the NISE Network community online through our professional networking sites where you'll receive nanotech news, be able to follow Network activities, and keep informed on partner opportunities!
Thank you to the 2014 NanoDays event organizers who submitted reports, automatically being entered into a drawing to win a package of BONUS educational materials to share with visitors in addition to their NanoDays kit activities. Congratulations to the 2014 winners Andrew McKenna Foster from the Maria Mitchell Association and to Traci Messner from the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire!

Mark your calendars for the NISE Network summer series of Brown-Bag Conversations. These conversations, led by Christina Akers from the Science Museum of Minnesota and the Midwest Regional Hub Leader, will help prepare partners who will be receiving the Nano mini-exhibition, to help supplement knowledge for partners who currently have pieces on the floor, are looking for great ideas on staff/volunteer training, and will also cover marketing strategies and resources for promoting the mini-exhibition.

Join the NISE Network this fall at the ASTC Conference in Raleigh, NC taking place October 17-21, 2014. NISE Network conference activities will include staffing an exhibition booth, hosting a pre-conference workshop, a special evening reception event, a partner breakfast, with information on engaging the public in nanoscience, engineering, and technology being featured by partners in a variety of sessions. Registration is now open for the conference with early bird registration closing on July 31st [register here].
    Friday, October 17, 2014
  • Pre-conference workshop "From Demonstration to Conversation: Engaging Visitors in Technology and Society."  This hands-on workshop is designed to empower museum educators to engage visitors in meaningful conversations about the relevance of emerging technologies to our lives. Register now, space is limited to 40 participants! (9:00am - 4:00pm)
  • Spend the day at the Museum of Life and Science! Tour the museum’s 84-acre indoor-outdoor science center with 300+ hands-on exhibits, live animals, and participate in daily programming! Pre-registration is required and will include lunch and transportation. (10:00am - 5:00pm)
  • The NISE Network invites partners to an informal evening special event at the Museum of Life and Science for an open house reception - buses will be provided. There is no charge to attend but registration is required; for more details visit (4:00pm - 7:00pm)
    Saturday and Sunday, October 18-19, 2014
  • NISE Network booth in the exhibition hall will feature the Network’s hands-on public engagement activities - great ideas at low costs!
  • Live Demonstration Hour (Sunday, 11:30am - 12:30pm)
    Monday, October 20, 2014
  • Don’t miss the NISE Network’s Partner Breakfast, open to all partner institutions, where you will learn about Network plans for the coming year.
Girls Full STEAM Ahead!
Author credit: Erika DuRoss, The Leonardo Museum

We’re all familiar with STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) - it’s a buzzword that continues to build momentum in education. There are dozens of studies on how to improve STEM education at all levels. But what happens when you introduce art into STEM?
That’s exactly the type of question we explore at The Leonardo Museum in downtown Salt Lake City. By approaching big topics in science and culture through the lens of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math), we are able to appeal to populations and make applications that could otherwise be overlooked. Just like Da Vinci himself, we use a cross-methodological approach. Now, Da Vinci didn’t have the chance to explore nanoscience during his lifespan, but we think he would have given two thumbs up to our newest nano exploration - an all girls’ summer camp called Girls Full STEAM Ahead!
We use nanoscience to make STEAM more than just an acronym, but a daily practice. With support from a 2014 NISE Network Mini-Grant, our campers will get the chance to interact with female professionals in science, art, and technology who will act as mentors and role models. Participants will also be asked to use what they learn in order to create a new nano-oriented board game, which they will prototype in another camp that runs simultaneously with Girls Full STEAM Ahead...continue reading the full Partner Highlight to learn more about the goals and objectives of the Girls Full STEAM Ahead summer camp and how the campers will help play a role in developing a game based on nanoscience!

To learn more about The Leonardo and its unique approach to education, please visit, or contact Tim Hecox from Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, and the West Regional Hub Leader.


Featured Finding: Updates from NISE Network Evaluation and Research
Featured evaluation and research findings about valued aspects of the Network: The NanoDays physical kit is, by far, the most valuable aspect of the Network to Annual Partner Survey takers. Respondents also highly value the website with its online catalog and the NanoDays digital materials. NanoDays kit activities developed between 2009 and 2014 have been archived and are available to download online here. For more findings, read the full Evaluation and Research blog post. 

Consider submitting a paper to the 2014 MRS Fall Meeting; a session of NISE Net community interest may include Materials as Tools for Sustainability. Abstract deadline is June 19, 2014.

    Nano Material: Friend, Foe, or Still Unknown?
Silver Too Small to See, but Everywhere You Look. Silver has historically been used as a way to prevent bacterial infections. A biomedical engineer from North Carolina State University decided to test a new bandage coated with silver on herself after suffering from an infected wound refusing to heal. Although the bandage wasn’t using silver on the nano scale, many products being developed and on the market today are manufactured with silver nanoparticles including clothing, linens, stuffed animals, and food containers. Nanotechnology in materials research is improving the durability and functionality of many products; however, some scientists worry about evidence that the nanoparticles may cause unexpected environmental harm and possible health issues. The ultimate goal is for scientists to figure out the best way to use nanosilver and protect the environment at the same time. Can a "Drinkable Book" Solve the World’s Water Crisis? Can you really pour contaminated water through paper and produce drinkable water? Scientists and engineers from Carnegie Mellon and the University of Virginia have worked to develop a drinkable book that not only teaches people about water contamination and diseases but also serves as a tool to provide clean drinking water. Each book is printed on advanced filter paper coated with silver nanoparticles giving the paper its orange coloration, which is capable of killing waterborne diseases such as cholera, typhoid, and E. coli. Costing only cents to produce, each filter (a single sheet of paper) is capable of filtering water for up to 30 days and each book can provide up to 4 years of safe drinking water.   New Mechanism Discovered for Gecko Adhesion. Research into materials that mimic the adhesive properties of the most adept climbers, the gecko, have previously incorporated the feature of tiny cilia-like hairs, or nanofibers, to copy the surface of geckos’ feet. While the idea of these hairs worked well for adhesion to certain surfaces like glass, the adhesive did not work well for all surfaces like drywall or brick. Researchers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst decided to "go back to the gecko" to investigate what was under the skin of geckos’ feet and found that their tendons connected directly from the skin to the bone, unlike humans, allowing them to maintain stiff connections on surfaces. With this new understanding of gecko anatomy, researchers integrated both soft elastic material and stiff fibers of glass or carbon fiber to create an adhesive material that can stick to any surface that is perpendicular to the floor, maintains a high stiffness, and just like the gecko, releases easily when pulled directly away from the surface.
A list of nano activities for use throughout the year is available on the NISE Net’s list of seasonal activities. Don't miss program ideas that you can use for summer activities and camps!

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Read the Nano Bite e-newsletter online at