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Newsletter: December 2017



Celebrating Network partners year of Earth and space events

It's nearing the end of the year and the NISE Network would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our partners for all the great work you've been doing this year using your Explore Science: Earth & Space 2017 toolkits! We've created a short video highlighting just a few events that took place across the U.S. between March and August. Watch and enjoy this short NISE Network partner video



2018: A year-long celebration of Frankenstein

The 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley's publication of Frankenstein will be celebrated all across the world throughout 2018. Frankenstein explores themes of human creativity, societal responsibility, and scientific ethics, which continue to resonate within science and society today. As citizens with access to incredible tools for creation and transformation, we need to understand the fundamentals of science and technology and develop the skills to actively participate in civic and policy discussions. Activities from the Frankenstein200 kit can be used in a variety of programming including during January's anniversary (great for winter break groups and camps), for Tinkerfests, storytime or with library partners, to combine with other activities from NISE Net's Building with Biology kit, or to celebrate Halloween. Download the free, digital Frankenstein200 kit now and start planning your festivities


Developing hands-on chemistry activities through design-based research

Our ChemAttitudes activity developers have been working closely with their partners from the project research team through a process called design-based research. Read their reflections about their experiences in testing, refining, and revising their creations as part of this national project to improve informal learning about chemistry


NISE Network resources available from 2017 ASTC Annual Conference 

Did you miss us at the recent ASTC Conference in San Jose? It's not too late to catch up now and learn about the growing Network and new and ongoing project opportunities. Resources for you include NISE Network partner breakfast slides, the Network's project opportunities fact sheet, and additional slides from select partner sessions and presentations.



Get Connected Science Learning, a new journal to inspire educators both inside and outside classrooms

A partnership between the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC), Connected Science Learning is an online journal that bridges in-school and out-of-school STEM learning by showcasing highly effective programs, practices, collaborations, and research taking place between these two worlds. The current issue focuses on STEM Learning for Early Learners. Sign up now to access the first issues currently being offered free of charge, learn more about upcoming themes, and the submission process at

The Molecularium Project

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) has developed educational large format films, cartoons, games, and apps that explore the world of atoms and molecules. The resources are aimed at young people, families, and school groups. View NEW and updated products and resources



The NISE Network runs a series of free online workshops to increase the number of professional development opportunities available to our partners, and to create more channels for partners to share their work and learn from each other directly. View the full details for upcoming online workshops at




Museum Community Partnerships - Part 3: Working with the Solar System Ambassadors and Night Sky Network

Tuesday, January 23, 2018; 11am-12pm Pacific / 2pm-3pm Eastern - Sign up now

Take events using the Explore Science: Earth & Space toolkits to the next level by partnering with NASA's Solar System Ambassadors and local Night Sky Network member astronomy groups. Listen to how other NISE Net partners incorporated these talented and knowledgeable professional and amateur astronomers into their events.


What's in Your 2018 Explore Science: Earth & Space Toolkit

Tuesday, February 6, 2018; 11am-12pm Pacific / 2pm-3pm Eastern - Sign up now

This online discussion provides a demonstration and overview of the hands-on STEM activities in the 2018 Explore Science: Earth & Space toolkit, tips for using training materials, forming local collaborations, and suggestions for marketing your events and programs.

Mark your calendars and register now to join these online workshops

The Science Behind the 2018 Explore Science: Earth & Space Toolkit - Part 1
Tuesday, February 27, 2018; 11am-12pm Pacific / 2pm-3pm Eastern

The Science Behind the 2018 Explore Science: Earth & Space Toolkit - Part 2
Tuesday, March 13, 2018; 
11am-12pm Pacific / 2pm-3pm Eastern

NGSS and the Explore Science: Earth & Space Toolkit - Connecting Your Toolkit to Field Trips and K-12 Programs
Tuesday, March 20, 2018
11am-12pm Pacific / 2pm-3pm Eastern


Online Workshop: Learn More About Frankenstein200 Project and Free Digital Resources (Recorded) 

Download the free, digital Frankenstein200 kit and take advantage of 2018's year-long festivities celebrating the 200th annivesary of the publication Frankenstein. The kit's hands-on activities are great way to add thought conversation about responsible innovation into regular programming like camps and storytime, to build upon other NISE Net kits, and to supplement Halloween events. View the rececording and resources of the 12-5-2017 online workshop



A Small Planetarium has a Big Reopening in Luling, LA

By Jason Talley, St. Charles Parish Library Planetarium

After a year of renovations, the St. Charles Parish Library Planetarium reopened to record crowds with help from NISE Net's Explore Science: Earth & Space toolkit in time for the 2017 solar eclipse. Since reopening, staff have integrated the kit's activities into the curriculum and improved upon them in some cases. In addition to some local media attention leading up to their eclipse event, planetarium faculty were also invited to speak at a local elementary school about observing the sky, which included a portable star project and several hands-on activities. Read full partner highlight for St. Charles Parish Library

Children's Science Center Explores Topography with Elementary Schools in Fairfax, VA

By Laahiri Chalasani, Children's Science Center

The Children’s Science Center, located in Fairfax, Virginia, provides Family Science Nights of interactive exhibits and hands-on activities to its Northern Virginia elementary schools. Every Tuesday and Thursday, the Center’s van rolls out filled with 12 activities designed to coincide with the curriculum taught in the communities’ schools. The activities, all manned by volunteers, were created to cater to all ages and minds in the school. Each school year, activities are updated and replaced to continue to broaden the scope of multiple STEM related subjects offered. Read full partner highlight for Children's Science Center



Earth and Space News

The sea level did, in fact, rise faster in the Southeast US
It's not just your imagination, tidal flooding has been increasing in recent years along America's southeastern coastline. According to researchers from the University of Florida, sea level along the Florida coastline has risen six times faster than the long-term rate of global increase. "Many people think the ocean works something like a bathtub, with sea level being the same all the way around. In reality, the ocean is lumpy, with winds, currents and other factors pushing water around to produce substantial variations in sea level from place to place." Read more on sea level rise

Solar system's first interstellar visitor dazzles scientists
Scientists were ecstatic at the recent interstellar asteroid that passed through our solar system, providing the first direct evidence that interstellar objects exist and providing a new opportunity for scientists to study formation of solar systems beyond our own. Observations from large ground-based telescopes from around the world will continue until the astroid becomes too distant and faint to be observed. Read more about this history-making discovery

NASA's Night Sky Network - What's up for December 2017
Learn about the astronomical events taking place this month

Relevant NISE Net resources: Explore Science: Earth & Space hands-on activity Rising Sea and Exploring the Solar System: Pocket Solar System

Synthetic Biology News


The first man to have his genes edited inside his body 
Past gene therapies have used certain viruses that have randomly inserted genes into the genome, sometimes hitting the mark but sometimes not. What this first of its kind clinical trial aims to do is use microscopic gene-editing tools called zinc-finger nucleases to precisely target and permanently alter specific stretches of DNA inside of patients. Should this treatment go as planned, the patient suffering from Hunter syndrome (a genetic disorder) may be able to halt the progression of the disease and eliminate the need for expensive and time-consuming enzyme-replacement therapies. Learn more about gene-editing and its possibilities in curing genetic diseases

The EPA has approved the release of weaponized mosquitoes in 20 US states
Following a 12-week field trial that involved releasing 20,000 bacteria-infested male mosquitoes in the Florida Keys, and previous trials in three other states, the EPA has approved a Kentucky-based biotechnology company to release additional bacteria-infested mosquitoes in 20 different states. When these males mate with uninfected females, the females produce eggs that don't hatch, helping to reduce the spread of vector-borne viruses such as Zika, dengue, and yellow fever. Read more about this recent EPA approval and the 20 approved states permitted to buy these mosquitoes 

CRISPR: Gene editing and beyond 
This short video produced by Nature Video provides an overview of the CRISPR-Cas9 technology and its possibilities. Watch now

Relevant NISE Net resources: Building with Biology hands-on activities and Should We Edit the Mosquito and Should We Edit the Genome forums

Chemistry News

How science may help us smell the past

Have you ever sparked a memory or felt a connection to something based soley on a smell? Scientists and historians alike are interested in the science of smells to help deconstruct and recreate odors as a way to address preservation. Or given the symbiotic relationship between olfaction and emotion, it could provide researchers with better insight into the connections between what people smelled and how that made them feel or what they thought. By using scientific techniques that capture volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) emitted by objects and conducting chemical analyses of odor molecules, scientists can determine the degradation process and provide opportunities to preserve it, or even recreate historical or ancient scents. Continue reading about "preservation is memory, and what's more profound than smell?"


Discover activity ideas for incorporating current science, engineering, and technology content into events, special programming, holidays, and seasonal activities by visiting Check out upcoming opportunities below.




American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) 2018 Annual Meeting

February 14 - 18, 2018: Austin, TX
The 2018 theme "Advancing Science: Discovery to Application" highlights the critical roles of academia, government and industry in moving ideas into innovations
. Registration now open

American Alliance of Museums (AAM) 2018 Annual Meeting & MuseumExpo

May 6 - 9, 2018: Phoenix, AZ
"Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn." Join the 
AAM 2018 Meeting & MuseumExpo to explore the many ways museums serve as hubs of community activation and learning.

Association of Children's Museum (ACM) Interactivity 2018

May 15 - 18, 2018: Raleigh, NC
This year's theme is "Open Source Play, Sharing the Creative Code." 
Learn more about ACM 2018

Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) Annual Conference 2018

September 29 - October 2, 2018; Hartford, CT
Call for proposals open; deadline is Friday, December 15, 2017. Learn more about ASTC 2018

Read the NISE Network e-newsletter online at