Partner Highlight: Arizona Science Center

Frank Kusiak

The Arizona Science Center, a NISE Net Partner since 2009, has been a model partner to those of us in the Southwest Region. With a lot of help from staff like Rei Cameron, Laura Martin, Joshua Sheehan, and Sari Neumeyer, they have thoroughly incorporated nano into their museum practice. They present NISE Net tabletop activities year round. Joshua, Senior Manager Guest Experience, and Sari, Senior Manager Guest Experience, attended the National Programs Workshop last year in Madison, WI, where they learned to perform the "Attack of the Nano Scientist" play. They’re still in the process of getting it into regular rotation on their new science stage. As an example of the Science Center staff’s ingenuity, for NanoDays they convert one of their floor laboratories into a clean room! Using a clear plastic shower curtain cut into strips and an electric leaf blower, they simulate the experience of a nano scientist entering a clean room (although in this case, visitors are entering NanoDays). As part of their NISE Net mini-grant, the Arizona Science Center will be producing Spanish language podcasts about nanotechnology. They plan to do five podcasts that explore how nano is impacting topics in five of their galleries.

Outside of normal business hours, the Arizona Science Center holds themed family events that may include nanotechnology. On May 19th, as part of the Bio Buzz Family Series, they’ll host Dr. Hao Yan from Arizona State University to engage families with the program, "Tiny Legos That Build Themselves:  The Magic of DNA Nanostructures."

The Arizona Science Center has also fostered a close relationship with one of the NISE Net’s strongest university partners, the Arizona State University Center for Nanotechnology in Society (ASU-CNS). Together, they have worked on engaging public audiences in considering the intersections of nanotechnology and society. Regularly throughout the year, the ASU-CNS hosts Science Cafés at the Science Center. This February’s café, "Science and Religion: How can we peace it all together" will include three guest speakers and more than likely, lots of dialogue on this fascinating topic. Additionally, the ASU-CNS helps out the Arizona Science Center by providing  graduate students to present floor activities throughout the year.

Lastly, the Arizona Science Center and ASU CNS will be working on a project that may have an impact on you! The Science Center has just received one of the first prototype NISE Net mini-exhibitions. They will be working closely with the NISE Net and the ASU CNS to create training for floor staff regarding the societal ethical implications of nano addressed within the exhibition. If you are awarded a mini-exhibition, you might see training developed by this pair of dynamos!