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(2011) UW MRSEC Hosts Two National Events for NISE Net Museum Educators

 The University of Wisconsin – Madison (UW) Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) on Nanostructured Interfaces hosted two national events for museum educators at the Madison Children’s Museum and on the UW campus. The first event, held February 28 – March 2, was a professional development workshop for partners of the Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network (NISE Net). The second event, March 2 – 4, 2011, was a peer critique meeting for NISE Net sub-awardees. Attendees of the week-long workshop and meeting represented a variety of institutions from across the country, including large museums like the Museum of Science-Boston, and smaller ones like the WONDERtorium in Stillwater, OK.

Forty-four educators from museums and research institutions participated in the professional development workshop, which focused on theatrical techniques for leading activities and presentations with public audiences. The first half of the meeting was held at the newly-reopened Madison Children’s Museum (MCM), a collaborator of the UW MRSEC. The second half took place at the newly-opened Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery (WID), a cutting-edge research and outreach facility on the UW campus. Professional actors from the Science Museum of Minnesota and the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, IL, led workshop participants through activities designed to improve their presentation techniques and interactions with public audiences. Attendees then applied these new skills by learning and presenting a NISE Net educational product to the entire workshop group on Day 3.

Twenty-three individuals from sub-awardee institutions of the NISE Net took part in the second event of the week, the peer critique meeting, which was held on the UW College of Engineering campus. During the meeting, attendees presented prototypes of educational materials currently under development. The group evaluated a total of 11 products, ranging from video clips to hands-on activities to presentations, by watching the program and then giving feedback to the developer through both discussion and written formats. Following the workshop, the program developers will revise their prototypes, test them with public audiences, and post them to the NISE Net catalog at www.nisenet.org. 

of the UW MRSEC education-outreach group, including staff, post docs, and an undergraduate, helped to plan and organize the workshop and meeting. They also participated in the events and benefited from the professional development and networking opportunities.

Picture of people doing outreach

Left:Workshop attendees watch professional actor, Damian Johnson, from the Science Museum of Minnesota present a NISE Net “Intro to Nanotech” program during an evening reception at the Madison Children’s Museum. 

Right: Dr Tracy Stefonek-Puccinelli (center) with her hands-on activity, “From Nature to Nanotech: Biomimicry”.