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Nano Bite: July 2012

Welcome to the July Nano Bite, the monthly e-newsletter for the Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network (NISE Net).

What's new?

Broader Impacts, Revisited
In this blog post by Carol Lynn Alpert of the Museum of Science, Boston, new developments in the NSF merit review standard Broader Impacts Criterion (BIC) are examined. The post details changes to the plans of the National Science Board since the last post on this from July 2011.

 New in the Catalog: Nanocoatings
In this epsiode of O Wow Moments with Mr. O, Mr. O takes a look at nanocoatings!

 New in the Catalog: Nanotube Models
Nanotube Models is a facilitated tabletop program aimed at educating the public about the properties and applications of carbon nanotubes. Visitors will be able to use Molecular Visions model kits to build carbon nanotubes. The models can be started by museum staff and added onto by visitors, or pre-built to be used as a display. The models can also be accompanied by other NISE Net programs that focus on carbon nanotubes and graphene.

What Else?

Nanotechnology Coloring Book - In English and French
NanoSonic has developed a free coloring book to help young students understand the world of nanotechnology. To access the coloring book and answers sheet in either English or French, go to:

 Podcast: Breathalyzer for Disease
Researchers are developing ways to detect diseases using a breathalyzer. Many disorders - diabetes, cancer, kidney failure - cause the release of certain chemicals into the blood stream. These molecules eventually make their way into our exhaled breath, where very sensitive, specially designed nanotechnologies can detect them for disease diagnosis. Find out more in this Podcast from the Museum of Science, Boston.

→ Employment Opportunity: OMSI Vice President of Exhibits
The Oregon Museum of Science & Industry is looking to hire a new Vice President of Exhibits. Interested candidates should go to for a detailed description of responsibilities and required experience.

Featured Finding
Over the past year, the evaluation team has been conducting A Study of Communication in the NISE Network (Network Communication Study) to learn about how the Network's primary communication components, NanoDays, face-to-face meetings, the regional hub structure, and the website, are being used by actively involved partners. We'll be highlighting different findings from the study - such as the bulleted points below - over the next few months in our Featured Finding section, and you can also read the whole report at
  • The regional hub structure provides a personal, go-to resource for actively involved professionals, acting as a central conduit for disseminating Network updates and responding to partners’ needs. The regional hub structure also fosters community at the regional level.
    • One comment from a NISE Net partner about the regional hubs: "[The regional hub structure offers] encouragement. Partnership. They pair people up. And the third thing is putting them in touch with the right people—they act as a bridge."
  • To connect with your regional hub or find your regional hub leader’s contact information, go to /contact
Partner Highlight
Cincinnati Museum Center and Liberty Science Center
It's always fun and inspiring to hear how partners modify NISE Net programs as they present them to their local audiences. This month, the Cincinnati Museum Center and Liberty Science Center shared some of their favorite "hacks."

The Cincinnati Museum Center has a new space called the LITE Lab (Learning, Innovation, Technology, and Education) that is designed to engage creative thinking and problem-solving skills primarily through self-guided challenges.  Regina Hall and Brian Pollock have adapted many of the NISE Net demos for this space so that visitors can experiment with nanoscale phenomena without staff facilitation. For example, they attached three different thermal sensing liquid crystal sheets with different temperature ranges to a display board.  Visitors are challenged to determine the temperature ranges of the liquid crystals by watching how they react to body heat.  Visitors have an opportunity to interact with a nanomaterial in a safe way, without staff directing the experience, and the materials only need to be replaced occasionally.

At Liberty Science Center, staff had the opportunity to learn the "Nanosilver: Breakthrough or Biohazard?" program at the NISE Net Programs Workshop in 2011.  Bringing it back to their institution, Harold Clark, Urmila Malvadkar, Susan Chasmer, and Katie Sitnik considered three challenges in implementing it for their audience.  They wanted to make it more interactive with audience participation and use of volunteers, make it more engaging for a younger audience, and create a stronger tie to the infectious disease theme of their Infection Connection exhibition, where the program would be presented.

For even more ideas and greater detail on these hacks, read this Partner Highlight by Jayatri Das of the Franklin Institute, the regional hub leader for the Mid-Atlantic region.

Nano in the News
  • Stunning Image of Smallest Possible Five Rings: Just in time for the 2012 London Olympics, it has been announced that scientists have created and imaged the smallest possible five-ringed structure - in the shape of the Olympic rings and conveniently named "olympicene" - using synthetic chemistry and state-of-the-art imaging techniques.
  • Ultra-Tough Mantis Shrimp Claws Could Lead to Better Body Armor: Materials scientists have been studying the claws of the Mantis Shrimp at the nanoscale to determine what makes them so tough. They hope to use this information to improve the design and materials in body armor.
  • Nanotechnology Used to Harness Power of Fireflies: By customizing the size and structure of quantum nanorods, scientists at Syracuse University have attached enzymes of the same chemicals fireflies use to produce their bioluminescence, causing the nanorods to glow. They hope that the process can be scaled up in the near future, and that the glowing nanorods could be a substitute for LED lights.

Nano Haiku
The mantis shrimp claw 
Beats out our body armor
And the shells of snails

Vrylena Olney of the Museum of Science, Boston created the above haiku in reference to the article Ultra-Tough Mantis Shrimp Claws Could Lead to Better Body Armor


Questions? Haikus? Contributions to the newsletter? Contact Eli Bossin at [email protected]

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