Skip to main content

Newsletter: January 2019



Wishing our Network Partners a happy new year

National Informal STEM Education Network year in review 2018

This past year was busy and successful, as hundreds of NISE Network partners across the country participated in Network projects! It’s exciting to have so many organizations dedicated to engaging people in their local communities in learning about current STEM research. Here are some of our favorite Network moments of 2018 as well as what's ahead in 2019


Congratulations to the recipients of the Explore Science: Earth & Space 2019 toolkit

As the NISE Network's Space and Earth project enters its fourth year, the Network is excited to announce the 350 recipients of the new Explore Science: Earth & Space 2019 physical toolkit, up from 250 recipients from previous years. Toolkit recipients can be viewed online at here; physical toolkits will ship in February with the digital toolkit also available online for download in February. Download 2019 digital toolkit


Building with Biology lives on with NISE Network Partners

Four years ago the NISE Network received a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to tackle conversations in museums between public audiences and scientists about the emerging field of synthetic biology; a very timely topic especially given recent announcements about gene-edited babies using CRISPR techniques. We enjoyed hearing from so many of our partners about their experiences bringing a new topic into their community and would like to thank our project team members and partners who participated in the Building with Biology project. Continue reading for project and evaluation highlights from the past four years and where you can dig deeper for more project resources and data


Upcoming online workshops: Staying connected to the Network and community

NISE Network runs a series of free online workshops to increase the number of professional development opportunities available to our partners, and to create more channels for partners to share their work and learn from each other directly. View full details for upcoming online workshops at



New to the NISE Network? Getting familiar with Network resources, partners, projects, and events 

Tuesday, January 29, 2019; 11am-12pm Pacific / 2pm-3pm Eastern - Sign up
Are you or your organization new to the NISE Network? Or maybe you’re new to your organization but your organization isn’t new to the Network? What does being a NISE Network partner consist of and how can the NISE Network help you in your organizational role? These are great questions and Network project team members are ready to take you on a guided journey of the NISE Network and our many more

The Science Behind the 2019 Explore Science: Earth & Space Toolkit - Exploring Earth and Our Solar System

Tuesday, February 26, 2019; 11am-12pm Pacific / 2pm-3pm Eastern - Sign up
This online presentation and discussion covers the science behind the 2019 Explore Science: Earth & Space toolkit activities - Land Cover, Temperature Mapping, and Observe the Sun. After a brief overview of each activity and its materials, our guest presenter will lead a discussion about NASA missions and research more

The Science Behind the 2019 Explore Science: Earth & Space Toolkit - Exploring the Universe 

Tuesday, March 12, 2019; 11am-12pm Pacific / 2pm-3pm Eastern - Sign up
This online presentation and discussion will cover the science behind the 2019 Explore Science: Earth & Space toolkit activities - Expanding Universe, Space Guess Quest, and Static Electricity. After a brief overview of each activity and its materials, our guest presenter will facilitate a discussion of NASA missions more


*Updated* NISE Network Fact Sheet

This new NISE Network Fact Sheet provides an overview of the Network and an introduction to the field of informal STEM learning. View and download the NISE Network Information Sheet (2019)

Activity and content training videos now available online for the Explore Science: Earth & Space 2019 toolkit

Get a sneak peek at the Explore Science: Earth & Space 2019 toolkit activity and content training videos! Activity videos are designed to help facilitators better engage visitors in Earth and space toolkit activities while the content training videos provide additional scientific background information for each activity.

Edu-Cathalon: A facilitation strategies and best practices training video for engaging museum visitors in STEM related content

This comedic training video highlights facilitation strategies and best practices for engaging museum visitors with STEM related content. The video follows three competitors in the highly anticipated Edu-Cathalon as they navigate through an obstacle course of museum visitors, including an adult-only group, a school group, and a mixed-age family. Watch the Edu-Cathalon video and see who takes home the coveted gold medal


Thanks for participating in National Chemistry Week 2018!

By David Horwitz, American Chemical Society

The American Chemical Society (ACS) hosted its 31st annual celebration of chemistry during National Chemistry Week (NCW) from October 21-27, 2018 and this year more than 90% of ACS local sections hosted activities, which is ACS's highest level of engagement in the NCW campaign in ten years. From Puerto Rico to California, from Alaska to Texas, ACS local sections and NISE Network partners got creative with their NCW events and contests. The NISE Network's ChemAttitudes project, in collaboration with ACS, awarded 44 ACS groups and 206 Network partners an Explore Science: Let's Do Chemistry physical kit for hosting hands-on chemistry events during fall 2018. The best part: more than 70% of kit recipients used the hands-on activities to host an event during NCW to help amplify the NCW campaign of engaging and teaching the public about the value of chemistry in everyday life. Read the full Partner Highlight to learn more about NCW 2018 by-the-numbers and ACS and NISE Net partner collaborative events


Earth and Space News

NASA's Voyager 2 probe enters interstellar space

For the second time in history, a human-made object has reached the space between the stars. NASA's Voyager 2 probe now has exited the heliosphere - the protective bubble of particles and magnetic fields created by the Sun. Now 11 billion miles away from Earth, Voyager 2 still has much to learn about this region of interstellar space. Read more and get the numbers behind Voyager 2

NASA's New Horizons mission reveals entirely new world

Did you see the first images taken of the most distant object ever explored? It's Ultima Thule, the object located in the Kuiper Belt beyond Pluto, and it illuminates the processes that built the planets four and half billion years ago. Read more about the New Horizon's mission to Ultima Thule and see first of their kind images 

Chinese lunar rover achieves world first

In another first, China has become the first country to land on the far side of the moon. This landing has lifted some of the mystery surrounding this side of the moon and has now opened a new chapter in human lunar exploration. Read more about this recent Chinese moon landing 

Synthetic Biology News

Gene editing of dogs offers hope for treating human muscular dystrophy

Achieved for the first time in a large animal, researchers have fixed a genetic glitch that causes Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), a disease that affects an estimated 300,000 boys around the world. Although a small study, the positive findings are that CRISPR restored the protein dystrophin in critical body muscles. Read more about this study and the next steps

Chemistry News

Rabbit gene helps houseplant to more efficiently detoxify indoor air 

Studies have shown that household air is more polluted than either office or school air, exposing children and home workers to higher levels of carcinogens than the general population. Researchers have made a genetically modified houseplant that can efficiently remove at least two toxins from the air. Read more about how plants can help detoxify air in your home

Nano News

Nanofiber carpet could lead to new sticky or insulating surfaces

Inspired by nature, engineering researchers have developed a new way to make arrays of nanofibers (that are hundreds of times thinner than a human hair) that could bring us coatings that are sticky, repellent, insulating or light emitting. Read more about this new discovery


New 5-year Federal strategic plan for U.S STEM released

In December, the U.S. National Science and Technology Council’s Committee on STEM Education (CoSTEM) released the new federal strategic plan for STEM education. You can read a summary of the plan from the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) and implications specific to afterschool STEM from the Afterschool Alliance. Click here to download your free copy


Discover activity ideas for incorporating current science, engineering, and technology content into events, special programming, holidays, and seasonal activities by visiting Check out upcoming opportunities below.


NASA's Night Sky Network - What's up for January 2019

Learn about astronomical events taking place this month

1/20: Total lunar eclipse

If skies are clear, viewers in North and South America, as well as those in western parts of Europe and Africa, will be able to watch one of the sky's most dazzling shows on Sunday night, January 20th, and early Monday morning, January 21st, when the Sun, Earth and Moon align creating a total lunar eclipse. The maximum eclipse will occur at 12:12am Eastern / 9:12pm Pacific; the total duration of the eclipse is just over 5 hours and the duration of the full lunar eclipse is just over 1 hour. Learn more from NASA including eclipse hands-on activities. Look here for the exact time of the eclipse in your area


Black History Month / African-American History Month - celebrate people in STEM

2/14: Valentines Day - explore NISE Net related activities and programs
2/17-2/23: National Engineers Week 
explore NISE Net related activities and programs
2/21: Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day explore NISE Net related activities and programs

2019 Year-long events


American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) 2019 Annual Meeting

February 14 - 17, 2019; Washington, DC
Meeting theme is Science Transcending Boundaries. Registration open

American Chemical Society (ACS) 2019 National Meeting 

March 31 - April 4, 2019; Orlando, FL
Explore the meeting theme Chemistry for New Frontiers.
Registration open

Association of Children's Museums (ACM) Interactivity 2019

May 8 - 11, 2019; Denver CO
Conference theme is FearLESS. Learn more about ACM 2019

Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) Annual Conference 2019

September 21 - September 24, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Explore next year's theme, Moonshots: Rendezvous with the Future. Learn more about ASTC 2019