CAPITALIZING on your NanoDays Partnerships, Pt. 2

Carol Lynn Alpert

    The demos and banners have been put away; the thank          

    you notes have gone out, the reports filed, and NanoDays    

    2011 is now a pleasant blur receding into the collective  

    archive of organizational events, while you, perhaps,

    move on to tackle your next big project… BUT WAIT --  

Before the glow fades completely, take a moment to CAPITALIZE on your success!

Here are some ideas:

  • Before the memories fade, ask everyone who helped to jot down what worked really well, what didn’t work so well, and what you might like trying to do differently or additionally next year.  Our team at MOS likes to do this within a week of NanoDays ending, and we usually set up a Google document to do it; because then everybody can jot down their observations raw, and then a couple of people can organize the comments under headings, like “Overall organization,”  “Publicity,”  “Signage,” “Guest speaker presentations,” “Volunteers,” “Demos.”  We find this to be of enormous help nine months later when we’re starting to gear up plans for the following year’s NanoDays events.  “Oh yeah, let’s remember that it was really good to have a sign in a stanchion about what carbon nanotubes are, right next to the balloon model….”  And, “yes, let’s remember we need a stack of photo releases if we have anyone taking pictures…”
  • Create a sharable archive of photos from the day.  It’s a nice idea to send a few to your organizational partners as well.  If the partners are researchers, they’ll be happy to have them for their annual reports to funders like NSF. 
  • Don’t be shy about asking research partners for feedback and ideas for the following year.  Ask them if they would like to help with advance planning for the following year, and if they would like to get their students involved.  They might even have some funds or other resources to contribute.
  • If your research center partners are thrilled with how it all turned out, find a time to set up a meeting with them, when things aren’t so rushed.  Give them an inside tour of the museum and talk with them about other kinds of partnership possibilities – perhaps a science communication or hands-on education workshop for their graduate students and the opportunity to practice as volunteers at Museum events; perhaps a series of “Meet the Researcher” programs on weekends with both junior and senior faculty; or perhaps a science café program for adults.  Mention to them that your organization would be interested in working with them to include a small budget for education outreach activities in any upcoming research grant proposals they may be planning to develop.
  • If you are a researcher or educational outreach coordinator, and you’re looking for a science museum or children’s museum partner, start looking around ahead of time.  Consult members of your NISE Net regional group for ideas.  If there is no suitable museum nearby, consider contacting a local library or community group.

NanoDays can serve as a “small step” that leads to “big impact,” for museums, research centers, and community organizations, if you build on the partnerships that went into making it a success.  Consult Small Steps; Big Impact: an online guide for science museum leaders developing education outreach partnerships with research centers, at risepartnerguide.org    On that site, you can also blog in about your partnership-building efforts - and learn about others too.