Tag Archives: science centres

Nano activities for the summer months

Courtesy of the July 2010 NISE (Nanoscale Informal Science Education) Net (work) newsletter, I have a list of nano-related activities taking place in various science museums and centres in the US. From the newsletter,

  • The Sciencenter in Ithaca, NY is integrating two mornings of nano programming into every two-week camp session. Sciencenter camp activities are designed for girls and boys entering grades 2 – 6 in the fall of 2010. Sciencenter educators plan an assortment of active, physical games, focused classroom experiences, special presentations, and free exploration of the museum and the science park. More information can be found at http://www.sciencenter.org/programs/sciencentersummercamp.asp
  • The Children’s Museum of Science and Technology (CMOST) in Troy, NY is partnering with the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering to offer two week long sessions of Nano Camp! One week will be all inclusive, and the second week is a ladies-only GIST (Girls in Science and Technology) program. More information can be found at http://www.cmost.org/programs/summer_gist.php
  • The Arts and Science Center in Pine Bluff, AR held a weeklong nano camp in early June using some of the NanoDays kit activities.
  • The Museum of Science in Boston, MA is hosting its fourth round of science communication workshops for NSF-funded REU (Research Experience for Undergraduate) students from Boston-area nano research centers, and is working with the Discovery Center Museum and the UW Madison NSEC and MRSEC to adapt this set of workshops for integration into their REU programs. The goal of these workshops is to help to cultivate a new generation of nano and materials science researchers aware of the broader context of their research and equipped with the skills to communicate effectively on interdisciplinary research teams and to engage broader audiences.[emphases mine]
  • In about a month, the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network (NNIN) REU will gather at the University of Minnesota for their network-wide convocation.  All 80 NNIN REU interns will present a talk and a poster.  Plus, all 18 International REUs, the iREUs, will be attending having just gotten home from Belgium, Germany or Japan!  Finally, staff from every site, along with many of the interns’ parents and friends, attend.  It’s an exciting event where staff and interns meet and find out what everyone has been up to over the summer. The presentations are web-cast and details and schedules can be found at http://www.nano.umn.edu/nninreuconvocation2010/.
  • The Summer Institute for Physics Teachers is currently going on at Cornell’s Center for Nanoscale Systems. The course, open to high school physics teachers, includes lectures are given by Dr. Julie Nucci and many Cornell faculty on topics such as electronics, photonics, nanotechnology, and particle physics. Lab tours provide a glimpse into state-of-the-art academic research.  The lab activities, which are co-developed by high school physics teachers and Cornell scientists, are presented by teachers.

I highlighted the science communication workshops for the US undergraduates in light of a recent (July 8, 2010) University of British Columbia media release announcing two recent federal grants including this one,

young researchers at UBC were awarded a further $1.6 million from the Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) program to help upgrade their skills for a successful transition to the workplace.

The CREATE grant to UBC is part of a $32-million investment over six years from NSERC, for 20 projects at Canadian universities. The funding will give science and engineering graduates an opportunity to expand their professional and personal skills to prepare them for the workplace.

While the two programmes are markedly different, the fact of their existence is intriguing. I don’t believe communication skills workshops or programmes to upgrade workplace skills for budding young scientists have been a feature of science training (in Canada anyway) until fairly recently. If you know differently, please do comment.

I’ve long been interested in the work being done on adhesive forces (usually Spiderman or geckos are featured in the headline for the news release) so I was quite happy to see this in the newsletter,

→ Geckos!

Check out our new program Biomimicry: Synthetic Gecko Tape through Nanomolding.  The hands-on activity gives visitors a glimpse of one of the methods used by researchers to make synthetic gecko tape.  Visitors make their own synthetic gecko tape with micron-sized hairs that mimic the behavior of the gecko foot and test how much weight their gecko tape can hold using LEGOs. The activity was designed to fit into a classroom/camp program, but can be adapted for a museum floor.

If the scientists are successful, it means you won’t need glue to stick things together, for example, putting up curtain rods. (Some curtain rods use adhesive pads so you can pull them on and off the walls but if you do that too many times you lose the adhesive properties; Spiderman and geckos don’t experience that problem.)

I found the document which tells you exactly how to create your synthetic gecko tape. You may not have the materials needed easily available but if you’re interested, the instructions are here.

This month’s nano haiku,

Surface to Volume
new science with a nano
Golden Ratio

by Luke Doney of the Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas, TX

If you want to check NISE Net, go here.