Skip to main content

NISE Network Year in Review 2018

January 4, 2019

Rae Ostman, Arizona State University


This past year was busy and successful, as hundreds of NISE Network partners across the country participated in Network projects! It’s exciting to have so many organizations dedicated to engaging people in their local communities in learning about current STEM research. Here are some of our favorite Network moments of 2018.

But first...


It’s amazing to partner with so many different organizations that are making a difference in communities all around the United States. As we reflect on the past year, we’re proud to be a part of your work. Thank you to all NISE Net partners for everything you do to engage the public in learning about STEM!

Here are some snapshots of the Network in 2018:

  • 422 organizations participated in Network activities

  • 50 states and Puerto Rico were active in NISE Net projects

  • 5 projects on different STEM topics were implemented by Network partners

  • 4 regional hubs supported Network activities across the country

  • 11,750,000 members of the public participated in programs or exhibits using Network resources

You can catch up on all our activities below, and then find out what’s in store for 2019!



NISE Network is collaborating with NASA to bring resources related to Earth and space science to partner organizations across the country. Together, we’re creating and using hands-on activity toolkits, professional development opportunities, and small footprint exhibitions.

Explore Science: Earth and Space toolkits

In 2018, NISE Net partners used their Explore Science: Earth and Space toolkits in many settings, for many different audiences. For example, Insights El Paso Science Center in Texas teamed up with multiple organizations to present the El Paso Space Festival, featuring hands-on activities, stargazing, a visit from a NASA astronaut, and much more. The North Carolina Museum of Natural History in Raleigh incorporated their Earth & Space activities into the annual Triangle SciTech Expo. The Morrison Planetarium at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, California, paired hands-on NISE Net activities with digital astronomy visualizations. And Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, hosted a world-record-breaking event featuring the largest astronomy lesson alongside their toolkit resources!

Earth & Space event at Children’s Creativity Museum, San Francisco, California


To date, 1,750,000 members of the public and 12,300 event volunteers have participated in Earth and space learning with NISE Net toolkit resources! While our evaluation work is still underway, we can share some preliminary findings and data that demonstrate the impact of Network partners’ Earth and space programming:

  • Almost all adult visitors report that Explore Science: Earth & Space toolkit activities are interesting and enjoyable for their groups (95%), and almost all family groups report learning something new by participating in Earth and space events (91%).

  • Around 85% of NISE Net partner organizations use our Earth and space resources to engage underserved and underrepresented audiences in learning about Earth and space, including girls, racial and ethnic minorities, low socioeconomic status groups, rural communities, and urban communities.

  • Around 85% of organizations collaborate with a subject matter expert or another institution to engage the public in Earth and/or space science content.

Sun, Earth, Universe exhibitions

NISE Net has completed development of Sun, Earth, Universe, a 500-600 square foot (46-56 square meter) exhibition. In 2018-2019, 52 copies of the exhibition will be produced and shipped for display across the United States.

Sun, Earth, Universe exhibition at Science Museum of Minnesota, Saint Paul


More information about the Sun, Earth, Universe exhibition is available online, including a map of locations where it will be on display and a promotional video.


Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein was published 200 years ago, in 1818. Throughout 2018, Network partners have been celebrating the 200th “birthday” of Frankenstein and his creature through hands-on maker style activities and an online alternate reality game. You can access free Frankenstein200 resources online, including the digital Frankenstein200 kit and the Laboratory for Innovation and Fantastic Explorations (L.I.F.E.) game.

Frankenstein200 activity at The Bakken Museum in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Science Museum of Minnesota for the NISE Network


In the Twin Cities (Minneapolis and Saint Paul), Minnesota, Frankenstein200 programming at the The Bakken Museum and Science Museum of Minnesota shared the science behind Shelley’s tale and highlighted ideas related to creativity and responsible innovation that still resonate today. The Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas, Texas, brought Frankenstein back to life for an adults-only event featuring experiments, demonstrations, talks by local scientists, art and maker experiences, and hands-on activities from the Frankenstein200 kit. In a final example, the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich, Vermont, featured Shelley’s novel in their annual conversation series that explores a range of scientific topics.

The research team from Arizona State University has been visiting Network partner programs throughout the year. Based on these inspiring visits, they offer some ideas and highlights from events held throughout the year.


NISE Net and the American Chemical Society have teamed up to create Explore Science: Let’s Do Chemistry resources. This project focuses on encouraging participating public audiences to find chemistry interesting, understand its connection to their lives, and develop a sense of confidence and self-efficacy about learning, using, and talking about chemistry. Let’s Do Chemistry is the NISE Net’s most recent kit, and partners have already begun to use it in National Chemistry Week events and other programming.

National Chemistry Week event at Museum of Science, Boston, Massachusetts. Credit: Eric Workman


Arkansas State University Museum in Jonesboro offered Scary STEM, which combined activities from NISE Network’s Frankenstein200 and Let’s Do Chemistry kits with new ideas created by the museum. College students from Skagit Valley College in Mount Vernon, Washington, engaged over 1000 local middle school students in the activities during National Chemistry Week.


The Building with Biology project uses innovative resources, practices, and processes to foster dialogue about the science, technology, and societal implications of synthetic biology. NISE Net partners use the Building with Biology kit of hands-on activities, public forum materials, videos, and other resources to create conversations among publics and scientists about synthetic biology.

Building with Biology forum at The Franklin Institute, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Credit: Enrique Lin Shiao (@enrique_lins)


In 2018, the team was excited to share a new public forum to complement existing materials: Editing Our Evolution: Rewriting the Human Genome. The Franklin Institute combined both activities into a special event, with a children’s workshop engaging kids in Building with Biology hands-on activities, while caregivers and other adults participated in the Editing Our Evolution forum. Network partners have also continued to find ways to use the activities in their ongoing activities. Rochester Museum & Science Center incorporated Building with Biology activities into their Genome Discovery Center, providing family friendly activities to supplement a traveling exhibition.

In 2018, the team also completed an evaluation study on the public impacts of the project. Highlights from the final Building with Biology participant impacts report include:

  • Forum and event participants learned about facts, applications, and societal implications of synthetic biology.

  • Building with Biology events—involving both forum programs and hands-on activities—successfully fostered authentic engagement that participants found valuable and enjoyable.

  • Participants in both forums and events reported increased interest in future behaviors related to synthetic biology, such as sharing views with family and friends and following news stories.


The “original” NISE Net nano project continues to make an impact through the ongoing work of our partners. We estimate that the Network has now reached over 60,000,000 people through NanoDays events, the Nano mini-exhibition, and many other public engagement activities!

Nano exhibition at family housing community center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Courtesy Discovery Lab


Copies of Nano exhibitions remain on display across the country and many of the 93 exhibition copies have now found new homes at other locations. In 2018 Discovery Lab in Tulsa, Oklahoma, launched a traveling exhibit program for Nano in partnership with The Housing Authority of the City of Tulsa, which is bringing the small footprint exhibition to nine family housing community centers.


NanoDays remains a programming tradition--and opportunity for local collaboration--at many NISE Net partner organizations, such as the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire. At Montana State University, the event has grown into a university-wide family science night celebrating STEM. Middle Tennessee State University collaborates widely to bring STEM and STEAM learning opportunities to communities across the state. The university first participated in the Network through NanoDays, and now draws on many NISE Net activity kits.  

To learn more about our impact related to the Nanoscale project, check out the final evaluation report, which synthesizes the results from the project’s many evaluation and research studies, or take a look at the executive summaries for the public impacts and professional impacts.


We’re looking forward to another great year in 2019! Here are some of the many NISE Net project activities Network partners can participate in during the coming year.  

Explore Science: Earth & Space activity. Credit: Emily Maletz


Moon and Beyond: We are excited to announce that NISE Net will begin a new project in collaboration with NASA in 2019! Moon and Beyond will create an “escape room” type game focused on lunar exploration. NISE Net partners will have the opportunity to participate in this project in 2020-21.

Explore Science: Earth & Space: In 2019, NISE Net partners and NASA will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, and there are many resources available for your organization to join in! The 2019 Explore Science: Earth & Space digital toolkit will be available by February 1, with hands-on activities, training materials, and other resources to support your Earth and space programming throughout the year.

NanoDays: Our signature event, NanoDays, continues in 2019! This year’s NanoDays dates are March 30-April 7, 2019. You can find all archived NanoDays materials on our website.

Building with Biology: The forums created for Building with Biology, including Editing Our Evolution: Rewriting the Human Genome, are related to current science events in the news, and remain timely options for in depth programming in 2019. In addition, Building with Biology activities connect well with the STEM content in NanoDays, Frankenstein200, and other NISE Net kits, so you can mix and match to suit different programs and topics!

Explore Science: Let’s Do Chemistry: This coming year, we’ll share new research findings about strategies and practices to encourage positive attitudes about learning chemistry. In 2019, the team will be analyzing reports from National Chemistry Week events in 2018, data collected during the activity development process in 2017-2018, and information from national public surveys in 2017 and 2018!

Professional Development: NISE Net will continue to offer regular online workshops throughout 2019. Check out our current list of workshops and add your name to our newsletter list to be sure you’re aware of all we offer!


Have a great 2019, and keep in touch! Sign up for the NISE Net newsletter, make sure your regional hub leader has your current contact information, and follow us on social networking sites. We love to hear from our partners and share your work with others in the Network!

Thank you again for everything you do!

Click here see the full list of NISE Network partners


This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Award Numbers 0532536, 0940143, 1421179, 1516684, and 1612482; and by NASA under Cooperative Agreement Numbers NNX16AC67A and 80NSSC18M0061 and Grant Number 80NSSC18K1219. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this presentation are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation or the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).