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Nano Bite: May 2012

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

What's new?

Don't Forget to Fill out a NanoDays Report!
If your organization received a physical kit this year, the report is required. If you co-hosted an event with another organization using a single kit, only one of you is required to fill out the report. The online NanoDays report is available here:, please fill out your report by Wednesday, May 16th.

 Association of Children's Museums Interactivity 2012 Conference
Join us at the ACM Interactivity 2012 Conference this May 10-12 in Portland, Oregon. The conference will include several sessions sharing NISE Network activities and learning as well as a booth in the exhibit hall featuring the Nano mini-exhibition, information, and activities. The NISE Network will also provide activities and demonstrations featuring nanoscale science, engineering, and technology activities appropriate for young museum visitors on May 10th at a special OMSI evening event. If you or a colleague at your organization will be attending, please stop by the NISE Network booth.

 DIY Nano App
The new DIY Nano app allows families to experience and learn about nanoscale science, engineering, and technology at home or on the go! Available from the iTunes App Store for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, the app provides free, easy to use hands-on activities. Each activity includes lists of widely available, inexpensive materials, step-by-step instructions, and detailed explanations. The app also helps users access and its extensive collection of public audience-targeted videos, activities, and information. All DIY Nano activities are also available for download as PDFs from under the DIY tab.

What Else?

New to the Catalog: NISE Network Learning Framework
The Nanoscale Informal Learning Experiences: NISE Network Learning Framework describes how the NISE Net's educational experiences support the six interrelated strands of learning documented by the National Research Council. The learning framework describes three principles using examples of the kinds of activities visitors do when they participate in NISE Net programs, exhibits, and media. The Framework is designed to be a companion to the NISE Network Content Map, which articulates key science concepts for engaging the public in nanoscale science, engineering, and technology.

 Spring 2012 Materials Research Society Science as Art Competition
Visualization methods provide an important tool in materials science for the analysis and presentation of scientific work. Images can often convey information in a way that tables of data or equations cannot match. Occasionally, scientific images transcend their role as a medium for transmitting information, and contain the aesthetic qualities that transform them into objects of beauty and art.

Offered as a special feature of MRS meetings, the Science as Art competitions are open to all registered meeting attendees. Past galleries of Science as Art entries are showcased here, and this video presents the Spring 2012 winners. An announcement regarding the 2012 MRS Fall Meeting Science as Art competition will be available shortly on the MRS website.

National Children's Book Week
The week of May 7-13 this year is National Children's Book Week! Celebrate by downloading one of the NISE Net's free offerings such as How Small is Nano? and Alice in NanoLand. For a list of selected books about nano, click here.

Summer Camp Activities
With Summer just around the corner, check out some of the NISE Net's resources available to help plan nano-themed camps:
  • Nanotechnology Summer Camp (Ages 8-10) - Framework: Campers learn about nanoscale science and engineering through hands-on activities. The Framework can be delivered in five half-day sessions, or split out and paired with other camp sessions.
  • High School Nanotechnology Summer Camp Framework: This weeklong summer camp for high school students is a hands-on, application-based program that gives a broad overview of nanoscale science and technology as a field with many career opportunities.
  • A number of NISE Net partners have been working on mini-grants relating to summer camps. Click here for the full list of mini-grant projects.
  • For more ideas on incorporating nano content into seasonal events, click here
 A History of the Scanning Tunneling Microscope (STM) and Atomic Force Microscope (AFM)
NISE Net partner Chris Toumey of the University of South Carolina NanoCenter has published his review of Cyrus Mody's Instrumental Community, noting, "the book emphasizes that no matter how good the technology was in [STM's and AFM's], they required acceptance in certain scientific communities before they could contribute much to nanotechnology or other scientific fields. The history of nanotech would have been very different if social processes of acceptance and adaptation had gone in different directions." If readers of the Nano Bite would like a copy of his review, please email Chris for more information.

Partner Highlight
The Discovery Museums
The Discovery Museums of Acton, MA received a NISE Net mini-grant this year to provide training sessions for their staff and teen volunteers, and to help present two evening family events as part of their Free First Friday special events: [email protected] Discovery Museums staff report that the [email protected] events have been well attended by a diverse audience. The training sessions were a a success, not only teaching their volunteers how to engage the public, but also helping the teen volunteers to make connections to their own studies. Some teen volunteers offered their own modifications to the NanoDays kit activities to make them more relevant to kids! For more on the Discovery Museums' [email protected] and training sessions, read this Partner Highlight by Ali Jackson of the Sciencenter, the regional hub leader for the Northeast region.
Nano in the News
  • FDA Outlines Rules for Nanotechnology in Food: Regulators are proposing that food companies that want to use nanoparticles in their packaging will have to provide extra testing data to show the products are safe. Under longstanding regulations, companies are not required to seek regulatory approval before launching products containing established ingredients and materials. But FDA officials said that foods and packaging containing nanoparticls would require more scrutiny.
  • Nanotech Scientist Creates Waterproof, Magnetic, Antibacterial Paper: Scientists have created a nanotech process that can be applied as a coating to paper to make it waterproof, magnetic, or antibacterial. The compound creates a shell around each fiber of the paper, so the properties of the paper itself are not changed, it is the properties of the nanoparticles that are transferred to the material.
  • Study Links Plant Damage to Nanoparticles: A new study suggests that exposure to certain nanoparticles may have a shriveling effect on some plants. Researchers tested copper oxide nanoparticles ranging in size from one to 100 nanometers. They found that exposure to nanoscale copper oxide particles stunted the shoots and roots of radishes and two species of rye grass. Plants exposed to the highest concentrations of nanoparticles were the most severely stunted. Researchers emphasized that they tested much higher concentrations of nanoparticles than might be expected in real-world agricultural scenarios.
  • Solar Energy Inspiration from Butterflies: The shingle-like scale structures of butterfly wings at the nanoscale help direct light to the second layer of structures, helping the butterfly capture a lot of heat in its wings. Researchers built a model inspired by the butterfly wings to capture solar power in the same way, noting, "the prototype is very, very effective."
  • Can Eating Buckyball-Infused Olive Oil Prolong your Lifespan?: A group of researchers set out to study the toxicity and other effects of buckyballs and came up with a surprising find - the diet of buckyball-infused olive oil doubled the lifespan of the lab rats. There were a number of limits to the study, but researchers noted that the buckyballs worked as a potent antioxidant. 

Nano Haiku
Extend your life! Eat
Olive oil and buckyballs.
It worked for the rats.

Vrylena Olney of the Museum of Science was inspired by the Popular Science article, Can Eating Buckyball-Infused Olive Oil Prolong your Lifespan?

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

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