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Newsletter: July 2017

Welcome to the monthly e-newsletter for the National Informal STEM Education (NISE) Network and community.


  • Community News: Total solar eclipse countdown!
  • Upcoming Events and Opportunities: Upcoming Online Workshops
  • Partner Highlights: NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center's Office of Education Takes Flight with Earth & Space Regional Educator Workshops, NASA's Solar System Ambassadors Program - Don't Miss Out on this Great Resource for Earth and Space Events and More with Visitors!
  • Featured on the Website: Online Workshops (Recorded): Findings from Data Collection about Building with Biology Events, Streaming the Eclipse: How to Utilize Online Live Streams at Your Eclipse Event, and Join the Eclipse Party! What are You Doing to Celebrate the August 21st, 2017 Total Solar Eclipse?
  • Science in the News: NASA citizen science app tackles mosquito-borne disease, NASA's eClips - Real World: Earth Systems, Swimming microbots can remove pathogenic bacteria from water, Chemistry life hacks: Food edition
  • STEM Throughout the Year: NISE Net's ideas for incorporating current science, engineering, and technology into holidays, seasons, annual events, and special events 
  • Meetings and Conferences: Visitor Studies Association (VSA) Conference, Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) Annual Conference


Total solar eclipse countdown! 

There's plenty of opportunities to engage visitors, family, and friends in learning about and participating in the solar eclipse regardless of where you are in the mainland U.S. NISE Net's Solar Eclipse web page is a great one-stop site to find many great resources. Here are a few resources that may be of particular interest to you:

  • NASA events map - Is your public solar eclipse event included on NASA's general event map? Submitting your August 21st event details is quick, easy, and a great way to promote your event, and you don't need to be in the path of totality to add your event. Utilize this great resource and be included in the community of partners nationwide celebrating the 2017 solar eclipse.
  • Finding experts to volunteer at your events - The Solar System Ambassadors program includes NASA trained volunteers throughout the US, Night Sky Network can help you find local astronomy clubs, and the American Astronomy Society (AAS) Astronomy Ambassadors are all great resources for finding subject matter experts. NASA also has a special map listing subject matter experts (SMEs) willing to volunteer for solar eclipse events.


Online Workshops: Staying connected to the Network and community

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 full details for upcoming online workshops at


Learn More About the 2018 Explore Science: Earth & Space Toolkit

Tuesday, September 12, 2017; 2:00 - 3:00 PM Eastern Sign up now

In this online workshop, NISE Net partners will present a general introduction to the Space and Earth Informal Science Education (SEISE) project, and an overview of what’s in the new 2018 Explore Science: Earth & Space toolkits, including information about how to apply for a toolkit and eligibility requirements. Toolkits are open for both new and existing NISE Network partners located in the United States; the application will open in fall 2017.

All NISE Network Online Workshops are recorded and archived online here


NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center's Office of Education Takes Flight with Earth & Space Regional Educator Workshops

By Barbie Buckner, NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center

Throughout May and June, the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center's Office of Education at the AERO Institute in Palmdale, California presented multiple solar eclipse workshops to regional educators to provide valuable resources needed to teach students about the first solar eclipse to be visible across all of North America in nearly 40 years. Educator Professional Development Specialist, Dr. Barbie Buckner, led these workshops using activities from the Explore Science: Earth & Space toolkit providing educators with ways to use demonstrations and methods for delivering eclipse education to their students. During the May workshop, participants had the opportunity to hear from the chief science advisor for the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) project about his work and experiences observing past solar eclipses, including one from Hawaii's Mauna Kea volcano in which he said the experience "was otherworldly" and that he "couldn't believe how much the landscape looked like the moon!" Read the full Partner Highlight about NASA's educator professional development using the Explore Science: Earth & Space toolkit

NASA’s Solar System Ambassadors Program – Don’t Miss Out on this Great Resource for Earth and Space Events and More with Visitors!

By Christina Leavell, Science Museum of Minnesota

Here at the Science Museum of Minnesota, we just can’t stop talking about how successful our relationship has been with the Solar System Ambassadors program! If you haven’t heard of this program, it’s a public engagement program that works with motivated volunteers across the nation to communicate the excitement of NASA's space exploration missions and information about recent discoveries with people in their local communities. As we prepared for our Explore Science: Earth and Space event, we explored the Solar System Ambassadors Program website to search for Ambassadors in our area. Doing this was so easy and we highly recommend you take advantage of this great resource for your Earth & space and eclipse events. The Ambassadors are trained by NASA to conduct this type of public outreach, which was on full display by their professionalism and enthusiasm. We've already confirmed their return for our August 21st solar eclipse event! Read the full Partner Highlight to learn more about the Solar System Ambassadors Program


Online Workshop: Findings from Data Collection about Building with Biology Events (Recorded)

This presentation by the Building with Biology project's Evaluation Team reported on data from public events and forums, from scientist volunteers, and around publics' attitudes towards synthetic biology. View the recording and resources of this 6-7-2017 online workshop

Online Workshop: Streaming the Eclipse: How to Utilize Online Live Streams at Your Eclipse Event (Recorded)

Learn about the many online live streaming options available to you for the solar eclipse, as well as additional resources and tips as you plan your event. View the recording and resources of this 6-20-2017 online workshop

Online Workshop: Join the Eclipse Party! What are You Doing to Celebrate the August 21st, 2017 Total Solar Eclipse? (Recorded) 

NISE Net partners share some of their plans for celebrating the solar eclipse taking place all across the country. View the recording and resources of this 6-27-2017 online workshop


Earth and Space News

NASA citizen science app tackles mosquito-borne disease

Mosquitoes are not only a pest but spread diseases like Zika and dengue fever killing millions of people every year. Satellites don't see mosquitoes, however satellites provide observation platforms from which scientists monitor environments where mosquito populations can flourish. NASA's Mosquito Habit Mapper as part of the GLOBE Observer app trains citizen scientists and guides you through identifying and eliminating mosquito breeding sites. This app has great international application in helping to reduce mosquito-borne diseases, and is the basis for a global experiment in support of International Science Center & Science Museum Day on November 10th. Learn more about NASA's new Mosquito Habitat Mapper app and how you can get involved

NASA's Night Sky Network - What's up for July 2017

Learn about the astronomical events taking place this month

NASA's eClips - Real World: Earth Systems

These short, educational videos inspire and engage students, helping them see real world connections. The Real World: Earth Systems video focuses on our Earth as a dynamic system with diverse subsystems that interact in complex ways and how NASA gathers and analyzes data.

Chemistry News

Swimming microbots can remove pathogenic bacteria from water

Clean drinking water is essential to life all around the world, however water contaminated with pathogenic bacteria that can cause serious illnesses continue to pose serious public health problems. Water can be disinfected with chlorine or a combination of other disinfectants but these methods don't always remove all microorganisms in the water. To help address this problem, scientists are engineering tiny microbots to help remove bacteria from water. Part of the microbot is made out of iron and gold layers topped with silver nanoparticles. Bacteria stick to the gold and are killed by the nanoparticles. Continue reading about self-propelled, bacteria killing microbots and watch a short video of the microbots in action

Chemistry life hacks: Food edition

American Chemical Society's Reactions YouTube Series is a show that uncovers chemistry all around us. This episode of Reactions brings chemistry to the kitchen


For specific activity ideas for events, and for more inspiration for year-long events and activities, visit


Butterfly resources for programs and exhibits

World Brain Day (mid-July)

Back to School (fall)

Celestial events: meteor showers, lunar eclipses, full moons, planetary events, and solar eclipse (August 21, 2017) - solar eclipse event planning resources and links 

National Chemistry Week (October 22-28) - 2017 NCW Theme: Chemistry Rocks!


Visitor Studies Association (VSA) Conference

July 18 - 22, 2017; Columbus, OH

Join NISE Net at VSA 2017 where partners will be presenting in sessions on evaluation capacity building, science cafes and forums, and collaboration. Learn more VSA 2017

Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) Annual Conference 2017

October 21 - 24, 2017; San Jose, CA

The NISE Network will have a variety of activities and professional development opportunities at the upcoming conference including sessions, an exhibit hall booth, partner breakfast and happy hour. Learn more ASTC 2017

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Do you have something you would like to submit for inclusion in the NISE Network monthly e-newsletter? Please send your announcements, articles, or community opportunities to Kayla Berry at [email protected].