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Nano Bite: May 2014

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


Changes are coming to the website, which will soon have a fresh new look, more intuitive navigation, and improved content filtering. To learn more about these exciting website updates, go to /blog/post/changes-coming-nisenetorg-website.

Upcoming ASTC webinar, "From Demonstration to Conversation: Engaging Visitors in Technology and Society," featuring NISE Network partners will take place on Tuesday, May 6th from 3:00-4:00pm ET. Learn ways to engage museum visitors in meaningful conversations about new technology and its relevance to our everyday lives. Register now for this webinar. If you can't make this webinar, view a recording of the NISE Network's Online Brown-Bag Conversation: Nano and Society, which also covered this topic, or considering signing up for the NISE Network pre-conference workshop at the 2014 ASTC Annual Conference where participants will receive specific training for conversation facilitation and hands-on content.

NanoDays 2014 Success! We want to thank all the NISE Network partners who participated in local NanoDays events. Over 250 NanoDays events took place across the country this year between March 29th and April 6th (map of NanoDays participants). We have received great feedback from partners on the success of events and we are looking forward to reading and seeing more from each of you.

  • Reporting on your NanoDays 2014 events is easy! If you received a 2014 physical kit, you will need to complete a NanoDays report. The report will take approximately 20 minutes to complete; please submit this as soon as possible. Click here for report information.
  • Don't forget to share your NanoDays photos with us too - learn how here.

Don't miss out on spring conference activities and NISE Network-related events! Join us at the Association of Children's Museums (ACM) Interactivity 2014 Conference in Phoenix, AZ (May 14-16, 2014) where the NISE Network will host a booth. We welcome you to stop by the booth or NISE Network table at the special evening event at the Arizona Science Center for fun, hands-on nano activities, and don't miss the NISE Network-related sessions at the conference.

The American Alliance of Museums (AAM) 2014 Annual Meeting is taking place in Seattle, WA May 18-21, 2014. Please stop by the NISE Network Happy Hour on Monday, May 19
th from 5:00-7:00pm to mingle with friends and colleagues and to stay connected with other NISE Network partners!

Check out the new Linked Products developed by the Discovery Center Museum in Rockford, IL and the Institute for Chemical Education (ICE) at University of Wisconsin, Madison.
  • "Nano Library Kiosk": Imagine being able to actually touch the surfaces of nanoscale objects like butterfly wings or nanotech fabrics scaled up to human dimensions. The Nano Library Kiosk uses innovative 3D-tactile models to bring this experience to visitors, which are currently being developed and installed for educational use in libraries.
  • "Carbon Playground": A fun and interactive climbable playground structure in the shape of different carbon forms; this playground equipment and complementary online curriculum is sure to get those elementary children interested in nanoscale science.
Nano Beyond NanoDays!
Author credit: Ali Jackson from Sciencenter

Like many communities around the country Rochester, New York goes all out celebrating NanoDays. Visitors to the Rochester Museum & Science Center (RMSC) joined museum staff and volunteers as well as staff and students from the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and University of Rochester for a fun filled weekend at the end of March, but as Joelle Adolfi, Manager of Youth and Family Programs, states, nano related programing doesn’t end there. There’s so much more!

RMSC is a long time NISE Network partner, and Director of Education, Calvin Uzelmeier, shared how valuable participation in the network is to their ongoing work, especially related to collaborative work they’re doing with local researchers and with the Portal to the Public Network (PoP Net). In training their PoP Net scientists (Rochester area researchers who go through a special in-depth science communication training), RMSC uses NanoDays kits (list of all NanoDays products) to illustrate hands-on ways to communicate complex science.

The museum works hard to bring their visitors face-to-face with some of the many scientists and researchers in the region. At this year’s NanoDays event, Bruce Ha from Sarah Ha Jewelry demonstrated ways he uses nanotechnology to write anything (images, the entire King James Bible, anything!) on dime size pendants....continue reading the full Partner Highlight to learn more ways RMSC is incorporating nano into their everyday programming and beyond!

Find out more about Rochester Museum & Science Center by visiting or contact Ali Jackson of Sciencenter, and the Northeast Regional Hub Leader.
→ Featured Finding: Updates from NISE Network Evaluation and Research
NanoDays events can often be a large part of an organization’s nano education efforts, but through the Annual Partner Survey we have also found that partners are using NISE Network materials during other times of the year. The most common settings for the use of these materials include: cart demonstrations and brief table top activities, K-12 school and community partner outreach activities, and special events like family nights, festivals, and chemistry events. Read the full Evaluation and Research blog post here.

Materials Research Society is seeking three to four people interested in co-organizing the Education Symposium for the 2015 Fall MRS Meeting. This symposium is highly anticipated and provides attendees the opportunity to share research, network between academic and science communities, and offers many professional development programs and outreach activities. Learn how to get involved in the Education Symposium Planning Subcommittee at The deadline to submit a symposium topic proposal is May 15th [read more].
Graphene: Everyone's Favorite Nanomaterial
  • New Sensor Paves the Way for Night Vision Contact Lenses. Night vision capabilities may no longer be a fantasy of science-fiction film or require the use of clunky head gear. Scientists from the University of Michigan have engineered a super-thin infrared sensor comprised of thin layers of stacked carbon. Scientists separated these layers down to a single layer of graphene, which is known to be a strong, ultra-thin, super-conductor. By placing an insulating barrier between two layers of graphene and adding an electrical current to the bottom layer, scientists were able to boost the sensitivity of graphene enough in order to generate an electrical signal from infrared light. With its small size and operation at room temperature, scientists believe that this technology could someday be imbedded onto contact lenses or integrated into smart phone camera lenses.
  • How a Drop of Seawater on Graphene Generates Electricity. Is it really possible, and as simple as, dragging salt water across a layer of graphene to produce electricity? For scientists in China, they did just that. Given the conductive nature of graphene and the ionic property of salt water, researchers observed what happened when they dragged a drop of seawater across a single layer of graphene at different speeds and found that the process generated a small voltage. They also found that the faster the droplet was dragged, the higher the voltage generated as well as an increase in voltage with an increase in droplets used. Could this technology be scaled up enough to harvest the same amount of electricity produced by hydroelectric generators? Perhaps one day. Source: Nature Nanotechnology, 2014. DOI 10.1038/NNANO.2014.56
  • How to Make Graphene in a Kitchen Blender (but it's really not suggested). Although in theory you could produce graphene flakes using your home blender, it's not recommended! A recently published paper discusses how researchers used an industrial blender and various other lab equipment to cook up micrometre-sized flakes of graphene. This new technique demonstrates the potential for making graphene cheaply and in industrial quantities. The challenge, however, is producing high-quality graphene flakes that can be used for solar cells, batteries, electronics, sold as a dried powder or in a liquid form that can be sprayed onto other materials. If you're interested in making your own graphene flakes, you can find the recipe here. Source: Nature Materials, 2014. DOI 10.1038/nmat3944
A list of nano activities for use throughout the year is available on the NISE Net’s list of seasonal activities.
*Answer to trivia found at end of newsletter*

The word "nano" comes from the Greek word for:

    a) Small
    b) Minor
    c) Brief
    d) Dwarf

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Read the Nano Bite e-newsletter online at /newsletter/nano-bite-may-2014.

*Trivia answer: The word "nano" comes from the Greek word for: Answer: Dwarf

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