Have you forged a great partnership with a couple of local research centers for your NanoDays 2011 festivities? Plan now to keep the relationship alive and growing beyond April, continuing to serve your audiences, your partners and your home team. It’s easy to do, and the benefits could be HUGE.
Get together with your research center liaison and discuss ways of continuing the most rewarding aspects of your outreach activities. (Did your visitors love the hands-on activities with graduate student volunteers? Did the research faculty enthuse about the opportunity you provided to train their students in hands-on learning approaches, helping to fulfill the lab’s education outreach aspirations?) Why not make it a year-round thing? Work with your faculty liaison to set up a once-a-semester inquiry-based learning workshop for their graduate students, and offer them practical experience on the exhibit floor. (We’ll soon be posting a new guide to running such workshops). You’ll soon have lots of skilled help to call upon for NanoDays 2012 - or for other special weekend events. Invite faculty to come give brief, simplified talks about the “big picture” surrounding their work. And, don’t forget to ask them if they would like to consider including an education outreach subaward component in their next grant proposal or renewal – it will win them points with NSF and some other research funding agencies, and it will allow you to start supplementing staff salaries in support of the effort they are investing in bringing researchers and public audiences together, face-to-face.
For more suggestions on building up a partnership, check out the Small Steps; Big Impact RISE partnership guide at http://www.risepartnerguide.org . The Guide offers sections on Recruiting a Partner, Building a Partnership, and Getting Grants. While you’re gearing up for NanoDays 2011, think ahead to 2012 and beyond. With deeper partnerships and a bit of the extra financial support that can sometimes come from research and education funding agencies, you can start AND keep the buckyball rolling. In mid-April, the RISE Rap will feature Capitalizing on your NanoDays Partnerships, Pt. 2.