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Partner Highlight: NanoDays Alive & Well in Wisconsin!

April 27, 2018

Christina Leavell


Once upon a time, during an NSF grant now far far away, there was a week-long celebration of all things nanoscience. This celebration was called NanoDays, and the good partners in the kingdom of the NISE Net (then the Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network, now the National Informal STEM Education Network) would not let this celebration just disappear! They made it their mission to engage audiences far and wide with nanoscale science, engineering and technology. Thanks to them, the great tradition still continues today, and audiences get to live happily ever after learning about the super fascinating world of the super small!!!

No, it’s not just a fairy tale. NanoDays is alive and well, and continues to be hosted at numerous locations throughout the US each year. One example comes to us from the Midwest, where the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire and the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire (UWEC) Materials Science Center continue a thriving relationship built around their NanoDays events.

Photo of Philip Rechek, Director of Facility and Exhibits at the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire and an organizer for NanoDays 2018 (Photo courtesy of the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire)


Doug Dunham (left) & students/staff from the Materials Science Center (Photo courtesy of the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire)


The Children’s Museum of Eau Claire has been hosting NanoDays since 2013, when they first started collaborating with the UWEC Materials Science Center. Doug Dunham, Director of the Center, was already a long-time partner of the NISE Network, holding his own NanoDays events since 2010. The collaboration brought his students and faculty to the Children’s Museum to engage with aspiring scientists of all ages. It also brought the Children’s Museum new volunteers with nanoscience demonstrations beyond those found in the NISE Net toolkits. Though perhaps one of the most exciting parts of this collaboration is that these UWEC volunteers are also part of the Center’s K-12 Outreach group, which educates and inspires the next generation of scientists and engineers by connecting youth to real scientists and engineers in the field. Meaning everyone involved in this collaboration is equally passionate and experienced in bringing engaging science content to youth audiences.

NanoDays at the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire (Photo courtesy of the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire)


NanoDays at the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire was held April 7th this year. Families enjoyed this free science fair-style event with dozens of hands-on experiment stations run by members of the UWEC Materials Science Center. There were classics like butterfly wings and nanopants, all-time favorites like nano ice cream and special equipment demonstrations from the University. This included an IR camera setup to a big screen TV, where participants could watch their own thermal image dance on screen as they moved around the space!

Youth trying out the IR camera (Photo courtesy of the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire)


We’re thrilled when we hear about such successful partnerships continuing to bring together audiences around nanoscale science and engineering. Thank you to the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire, the UWEC Materials Science Center, and all our partners who continue to host NanoDays events and activities throughout the year!

New to NanoDays?

NanoDays is an annual, nationwide festival of educational programs about nanoscale science and engineering and their impact on society. NanoDays events take place at science museums, research centers, and universities across the country from Puerto Rico to Hawaii. NanoDays engages people of all ages in learning about this emerging field of research, which holds the promise of developing revolutionary materials and technologies.

Despite the NISE Network no longer creating new NanoDays resources, the full collection of over ten years of NanoDays activities, planning guides and marketing materials still lives online and is available for free download by all! Learn more and host your own event:



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