Tag Archives: Nanoscale Informal Science Education

Universal design: Aug. 21, 2012 online workshop; nano, ethics, and religion; and more from NISE Net

My August 2012 issue of The NanoBite from the Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network (NISE Net) features news of a free, online workshop about designing public programmes with a nanotechnology focus. From the event webpage,

You (or someone from your institution) is invited to attend a free, one-hour online workshop on Universal Design for Public Programs.

The workshop will be Tuesday, August 21st, 1 – 2 pm EDT.

What is the workshop about?
The workshop will focus specifically on the NISE Net’s Universal Design Guide for Public Programs. Workshop facilitators will give a brief introduction to the guide, look at some examples of universal design in programs from the NISE Net catalog, and will have an expert advisor on hand to answer questions. If you are interested in learning more about developing or implementing public programs (such as interpretation carts, stage demonstrations, and science theater) that are inclusive of the wide range of museum visitors, including those with disabilities then please join us. See the attached brief agenda for more detail.

We’re also testing out using the Adobe Connect online platform for short web-based trainings and conversations. This is a bit of an experiment, and we’ll be interested in hearing your take on the system!

What is Universal Design?
Universal Design (UD) is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.

You can find and download the guide online at:

How do I sign up?
Please RSVP using this survey gizmo link if you’re able to attend:

Agenda at a Glance
1:00 – Overview of universal design and universal design for learning in a museum context
1:15 – UD Programs Concept 1 – Repeat and reinforce the main ideas and concepts
1:30 – UD Programs Concept 2 – Make multiple entry points and multiple ways of engagement available.
1:45 – UD Programs Concept 3 – Provide physical and sensory access to all aspects of the program

This universal design concept seems to be related to NISE Net’s Inclusive Audiences initiative mentioned in my Dec. 5, 2011 posting.

The magazine, Covalence, published an issue on science,ethics,  and religion that featured five articles about nano. From the August 2012 issue of NanoBite (the NISE Net newsletter),

Faith, Ethics, and Nanotechnology
A number of NISE Net partners recently contributed articles to Covalence, an online magazine of religion and science, as part of a package of five papers on “faith, ethics, and nanotechnology.” The five articles, Virtue and Vice Among the Molecules by Chris Toumey, The Landscape of Nanoethics by Ronald Sandler, Biomilitarism and Nanomedicine: Evil Metaphors for the Good of Human Health? by Brigitte Nerlich, A Place for Religion in Nanotechnology Debates by Jamey Wetmore, and Nanobots Dancing: Science Fiction and Faith by Steven Lynn can all be found in the collection here: http://www.elca.org/What-We-Believe/Social-Issues/Faith-Science-and-Technology/Covalence/Features.aspx. Thank you to Chris Toumey for letting us know!

NISE Net has  a new partner, which is also a new organization, Informal Science Learning Associates (ISLA), from the Aug. 2012 issue of the NanoBite,

Informal Science Learning Associates (ISLA)
The Informal Science Learning Associates (ISLA)  is a newly-formed nonprofit organization dedicated to improving educational opportunities for all children. A museum without walls, ISLA provides interactive programming in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to promote life-long learning in the community and surrounding communities of Laredo, Texas. One of ISLA’s first big events was hosting NanoDays at local high schools. For more on ISLA’s NanoDays activities and programs, read this Partner Highlight by Aaron Guerrero of the Children’s Museum of Houston, the regional hub leader for the South region.

And as always, I will end this with the poetry, from the Aug. 2012 issue of the NanoBite,

Nano Haiku

Fantastic voyage
Dendrimer nanospaceship
Drug delivery

After reading the article Nanoparticles Help Researchers Deliver Steroids to the Retina, Wendy Aldwyn, of the North Carolina Museum of Life & Science shared the above haiku.

NISENet (Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network) studies its own network and more in the June 2012 newsletter

Titled A Study of Communication in the Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network (PDF) and written by Jane Morgan Alexander, Gina Svarovsky, Juli Goss, Liz Rosino, Leigh Ann Mesiti, Jenna LeComte-Hinely, and Christine Reich, the 62 pp. study was published April 2012. The executive summary offers a description of the study parameters (p. 4 of the PDF),

A Study of Communication in the NISE Network (Network Communication Study), conducted during the sixth year of the grant, sought to learn how the four primary communication components that were developed in the first 5 years of NISE Net (NanoDays, face-to-face meetings, the regional hub structure, and the nisenet.org website) are functioning within the Network. In particular, the study explored how these components communicate information, ideas, and practices related to NISE Net between and within the three Network tiers.

Using a qualitative approach, 7 focus groups with 24 individuals in Tier 1 and 39 semistructured interviews with professionals in Tiers 2 and 3 were conducted. Only Tier 2 and 3 partners who were actively involved in NISE Net were selected to participate in the study so as to capture the “best case” description of communication within the Network to illustrate how this network optimally functions. Tier 2 and 3 partners were identified as actively engaged if they had hosted or participated in a NanoDays event in the past 3 years and had attended at least one NISE Net professional development offering. Due to these sampling constraints, the study does not draw conclusions about the experience of less involved Network partners.

Given those parameters, here are the conclusions as per the study (p. 4 of the PDF) and as per the description of the study on the NISENet website,

In particular, the following findings emerged from this study:

  • NanoDays makes nano content seem “doable.” NanoDays kits, acknowledged by involved partners in all tiers to be a useful representation of the professionalism of the Network, communicate messages about the accessibility of nano content.
  • Face-to-face meetings contribute to a sense of NISE Net community. Through face-to-face meetings held throughout the year, Network partners learn general information about NISE Net and develop personal connections with Network peers.
  • The regional hub structure provides a personal, go-to resource for professionals in Tiers 2 and 3. The regional hub structure serves as a central resource to disseminate Network updates and respond to partners’ needs.
  • The NISE Network website (nisenet.org) is used to convey general information about NISE Net.

In addition to the four primary communication components, some Network partners also use the Nano Bite (NISE Net’s monthly e-newsletter) and social networking groups on LinkedIn and Facebook.

In other news, there are some opportunities for materials research scientists and writers,

MRS Fall 2012 Call for Papers
The MRS 2012 Fall Meeting in Boston November 26-30, 2012 is having an Educational Symposium ZZ – Communicating Social Relevancy in Materials Science and Engineering Education. The Call for Papers lists a deadline of June 19, 2012 for abstract submission. If you have any questions or suggestions regarding topics, ancillary events, panel sessions or invited speakers, please contact one of the organizers listed at the end of the Call for Papers announcement.

→ To Think, To Write, To Publish
This two-part, multi-day workshop will bring together emerging writers and early career science and innovation policy scholars – along with creative writing and journalism professors, museum professionals, and editors of mainstream publications to immerse themselves in the art and business of nonfiction storytelling.

Participants will attend workshops in Washington, DC and Tempe, AZ and will be guided for an entire year. Travel expenses to attend the workshops will be paid, along with an honorarium. For complete instructions and details, go to http://www.thinkwritepublish.org/.

Finally, there are two  June 2012 nano haikus,

A young man’s finest weapon
Cancer cannot hide

Sune Chunhasuwan of the Museum of Science created the above haiku in reference to the work of Jack Andraka, who developed a method to detect pancreatic cancer using carbon nanotubes.

A Network-wide endeavor.
Here are our findings.

Gina Svarovsky of the Science Museum of Minnesota writes about the recently completed Network Communication Study that was highlighted above.

There you have some extracts, the full June 2012 newsletter can be found here.

Blue morpho butterfly at the nanoscale illustrates bioinspired natural colour

My January 2012 NISE (Nanoscale informal science education) Net newsletter (The Nano Bite) features a new video, this one about the Blue Morpho butterfly which shows the butterfly wings at various magnifications. (I most recently wrote about the butterfly in my Oct. 14, 2011 posting on colour, nanostructures, and nature.)

Zoom into a Blue Morpho Butterfly (with narration) from NISE Network on Vimeo.  You can find the video and additional information in the catalog.

I’ve read about the nanostructures but I’ve never seen them before and was thrilled about it since there’s a Jan. 5, 2012 news item on Nanowerk regarding bioinspired colour and some of the challenges scientists face as they try to incorporate this inspiration into materials,

Nature’s ability to actively control color has led scientists to integrate structural color into the design of modern technologies. But how do scientists accurately mimic nature for such applications?

Hiroshi Fudouzi at National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS) in Japan describes the challenges facing materials scientists for the realization of photonic crystals based on design of bioinspired structural color.

The review paper, published in Science and Technology of Advanced Materials (“Tunable structural color in organisms and photonic materials for design of bioinspired materials”) [article available in open access journal], focuses on active structural color and covers the following aspects of structural color …

From the  introduction to Fudouzi’s paper (I have removed reference numbers, please check the paper for all the citations and reference numbers),

Iridescence is a structural color formed without using pigments, dye or luminescence. It originates from

spectrally selective reflection of visible light from a periodic modulation of refractive index. We can observe the structural color in natural life forms, for example, in peacock feathers, outer shells of jewel beetles, wings of Morpho butterflies and many other insects. A previous review summarized the multilayer interference of light in aquatic organisms, particularly in fish scales. Multilayer interference is also the major topic of this paper. Structural color in nature is used in camouflage, intimidation (warning), display and communication, and there have been recent discoveries in this area from the viewpoint of photonic crystals. However, the structural color of life forms cannot be expressed using a simple interference model, and its origin, particularly in butterflies, remains an active research topic in biology and physics.

The scales of some fishes and epidermises of insects can change their structural color.The blue color of Morpho butterfly wings is caused by their periodic nanostructure. It can be changed by varying the refractive index n, for example, from blue to green by soaking in acetone (n = 1.362). After the wings are dried, their color returns to original. This is an example of passive color change, and in this review, we focus on active structural color in organisms, that is, voluntary color changes in some groups of tropical fish, octopus, squid and beetle in response to external stimuli. Revealing their mechanisms may provide hints for the fabrication of new photonic materials with tunable structural color. Such bioinspired or biomimetic materials are a new trend and an emerging technology (p. 2)

One of the fish that Fudouzi examined is the blue damselfish. Here’s a video of someone’s home aquarium featuring the fish,

I did go looking for some of the challenges that bioinspiration brings,

As outlined in this review, bioinspired approaches are useful for the design of photonic materials. A humidity sensor based on 3D opal photonic crystals was fabricated on the basis of the nanoporous structure of the Hercules beetle. This sensor changes its color from blue to red at high humidity; however, it is yet unselective to the carrier gas. (p. 8) [emphasis mine]

If you are interested in more information about Dr. Fudouzi and his work, you can check at his page on the National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS), Learning from Nature Cluster website.