January 29, 2020Suzi Taylor, Montana State University
When network partner, Suzi Taylor at Montana State University’s (MSU) Science Math Resource Center, was tasked with helping undergraduate students create hands-on activities for a community outreach event, she turned to NISE Net resources for help.
Her task was to prepare students for Crossroads of Discovery, an opportunity for MSU undergraduates who are involved in research to share their work with community members. MSU planned “Xroads” as part of its Year of Undergraduate Research as the university prepares to host 4,000 participants at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research in March. Many of the students had never previously presented their work in a non-academic setting.
Montana State has been part of the NISE Network since 2008, so Taylor knew the website was rich with resources to help the students convey their complex topics in a hands-on format.
The one-hour training, which Taylor called “Beyond the Poster,” launched with NISE Net’s “How Not to Engage with Visitors” video, then included the Nano four key concepts to help students focus on their core ideas. Taylor also demonstrated physical activities such as Tech Tokens from the Building with Biology kit, which transforms a complex idea (allocating research funds) into a tangible physical activity, and sent students home with a link to Tips for Leading Hands-on Activities.
When event day came, students had developed everything from a handmade mini stomach lined with various types of cells to an activity that helped kids visualize how much sugar is in candy. Taylor reported that the Crossroads event was a huge success, and many visitors commented on how much they enjoyed interacting with the students as they went “Beyond the Poster.”
NISE Network links
- How not to engage with visitors: https://www.nisenet.org/catalog/museum-presentation-how-and-how-not-interact-visitors-video-guide
- Nano key concepts: https://www.nisenet.org/catalog/engaging-public-nano-key-concepts
- Tech Tokens: https://www.nisenet.org/catalog/building-biology-tech-tokens
- Tips for leading hands-on activities: https://www.nisenet.org/catalog/explore-science-tips-leading-hands-activities
- NISE Network hands-on activity kits on a variety of STEM topics: https://www.nisenet.org/kits