Partner Highlight: Nano Beyond NanoDays! Rochester Museum & Science Center (RMSC)

Ali Jackson

Like many communities around the country Rochester, New York goes all out celebrating NanoDays. Visitors to the Rochester Museum & Science Center (RMSC) joined museum staff and volunteers as well as staff and students from the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and University of Rochester for a fun filled weekend at the end of March, but as Joelle Adolfi, Manager of Youth and Family Programs, states, nano related programing doesn’t end there. There’s so much more!

RMSC is a long time NISE Network partner, and Director of Education, Calvin Uzelmeier, shared how valuable participation in the network is to their ongoing work, especially related to collaborative work they’re doing with local researchers and with the Portal to the Public Network (PoP Net). In training their PoP Net scientists (Rochester area researchers who go through a special in-depth science communication training), RMSC uses NanoDays kits (list of all NanoDays products) to illustrate hands-on ways to communicate complex science.

The museum works hard to bring their visitors face-to-face with some of the many scientists and researchers in the region. At this year’s NanoDays event, Bruce Ha from Sarah Ha Jewelry demonstrated ways he uses nanotechnology to write anything (images, the entire King James Bible, anything!) on dime size pendants.

This past month, Dr. Sara Brenner, assistant vice president for nanohealth initiatives and assistant professor of nanobioscience at the SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) gave a Richard C. Shultz Science on the Edge lecture at the Rochester Museum & Science Center geared toward an adult and student audience, followed by a reception and mixer.  The presentation, The 21st Century Nanotechnology Landscape: Health, Safety, and Nanomedicine Applications, focused on how nanomedicine holds promise for truly innovative treatments. Dr. Brenner shared that from an economic perspective, nanotechnology applications are projected to impact nearly every known industry as well as create entirely new industrial clusters. And she talked about how rapid growth and projected acceleration of nanotechnology also creates urgency in understanding, predicting, and managing the potential health risks associated with occupational, environmental and consumer exposures to nanomaterials. Dr. Brenner’s research and the health initiative at CNSE aim to develop novel nanotechnology applications in the life sciences, including medicine and public health. Joelle Adolfi shared that this kind of programming allows the museum to have a more in-depth conversation with visitors about some of the issues that come up around nanotechnology and society.

Also in April, RMSC hosted a special spring break camp and incorporated nano themed programming. One camp for 6-8 year olds reached over 50 participants. The other for older campers reached 15 kids. Campers had a great time working together, exploring the world of all things small, and learning about how nanoscience plays a role in daily life. Running and hosting this spring break camp allowed staff at RMSC to experiment with and test the camp structure. Nano at Camp continues this summer with a week-long session at the end of June. RMSC was awarded a 2014 NISE Net mini-grant to develop the nano-focused summer camp and related floor cart demonstrations for use on the museum floor. Joelle shared how useful NanoDays kits have been in providing core content, and they are all excited to keep experimenting with ways to string activities together around different themes—like nature or tools—to create longer classroom centered programs. RMSC expects the camp program will allow them to reach new audiences and strengthen partnerships with RIT and other local nano researchers and industry professionals. Hopefully the campers will make connections between what they experience at camp and nano research in the wider Rochester community.

Keep up the great work and we all look forward to learning more about what’s going on with nano at RMSC!

Find out more about Rochester Museum & Science Center by visiting http://www.rmsc.org/ or contact Ali Jackson of Sciencenter, and the Northeast Regional Hub Leader.