Science of Nanoscale Systems and their Device Applications
Science of Nanoscale Systems and their Device Applications
Education and Human Resources
Last Modified October 19, 2006
by the NSEC Office.
Museum of Science-Boston
- Carol Lynn Alpert, NSEC Director for Public Engagement and Director of Strategic Projects at the Museum of Science;
- Daniel Davis, Education Associate for Nanoscale Science and Engineering;
- Adam Weiss and Greg Murray, Education Associates for Current Science & Technology, Museum of Science, Boston.
Project Title: NSEC Informal Education and Public Engagement
The participants and their colleagues develop innovative science communication strategies for enhancing public understanding of research in nanoscale science and engineering, engaging a broad range of audiences at the Museum of Science and elsewhere.
Significant New Accomplishments
- Reaching a National Audience via Cable TV
Daniel Davis presented an overview of nanomedical applications in imaging, cancer detection, and therapy for CNBC-TV's national audience on June 23, 2004, including work published by Professor Moungi Bawendi and his collaborators using near-infrared fluorescent type II quantum dots for sentinel lymph node mapping. (Nature Biotechnology, January, 2004.)
On CN8's Nitebeat with Emmy Award-winning anchor Barry Nolan, Dan demonstrates how nanoparticles of different sizes absorb and emit different wavelengths of light, giving them distinct colors that can be helpful as markers or detectors.
- Monthly Live NECN Cablecasts
"Sci-Tech in the News" features monthly nanotechnology stories cablecast live from the Museum's Current Science & Technology stage via New England Cable News, reaching up to 2.8 million homes and businesses. Here, Dan Davis models "molecular cages" for hydrogen fuel storage.
- Live Presentations
A plasma screen display of the bright colors emitted by differently-sized quantum dots illuminates Dan Davis' live presentation on nanomedicine. Dan Davis, Adam Weiss, and Greg Murray have delivered over 160 live presentations for Museum audiences in the last year, reaching more than 5400 visitors. This presentation was covered by Small Times magazine...here's an excerpt:
CAMBRIDGE, Ma. Sept. 10, 2004 - Explaining nanotechnology to those who are unfamiliar with the concept is a challenge Daniel Davis enjoys. The audience Davis speaks to each day is the ultimate investor: the American public, whose tax dollars fund nanotech research initiatives. Davis meets that audience at the Boston Museum of Science where he leads them through a nanotechnology exhibit. "We're breaking science news to the public in language they can understand," he explained. "One of the big strengths that museums have... is the opportunity to use physical models and demonstrations, that aren't really available in a classroom setting. We want to give sensory examples."
- Guest Researcher Appearances: Up Close and Personal
Not only are Museum audiences attracted to this series of weekend encounters with real NSEC researchers, the researchers themselves seem to enjoy the opportunity. This year, guest researchers delighted more than 400 Museum visitors with tales from the nano laboratory bench. Samples:
Professor Jennifer West of Rice University, stopped by on her way to a conference in Boston and showed Museum visitors how gold covered nanoshells might provide effective cancer therapy. (at left)
Professor Eric Mazur returned to deliver his popular presentation "Stopping Time," which offers an historical and personal perspective on his group's research with femtosecond lasers.
Professor Mike Aziz demonstrated the dramatic elasticity of amorphous metals and the use of magnetic varieties to minimize energy loss in transformers.
Fulbright Scholar Derek O'Keefe took nanotech's potential to new heights with his talk "Superhero Science."
Professor Itai Cohen delighted crowds with a "Squishy Physics" talk on complex fluids.
- Imaging & Imagining the Nanoscale
While many nano commentators use the width of a human hair to offer perspective on the size of a nanometer, only Harvard's Eric Mazur was able to provide the Museum with an actual image of a silica nanowire wrapped around a hair. With a tensile strength stronger than spider silk and remarkable structural uniformity, the wires transmit light with very low optical loss within the visible to near-infrared spectral range. Other images produced by Eric Heller, Bob Westervelt, and Ray Ashoori have provided exciting glimpses into the nano world. Moungi Bawendi's work with a team at Harvard Medical School's Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital produced outstanding medical imaging capability.
- NSEC, MRS, and Strange Matter
The Museum hosted the Strange Matter exhibit developed by the Materials Research Society with NSF support. During the annual MRS meeting, the exhibit was a focal point for social events, television coverage and special demonstrations. The MRS brought 100 high school teachers from around the country for a symposium. With support from Intel and 3M, the Museum held three New England teacher workshops and field trips for students from more than 25 schools. Dan Davis focused the workshop content on the connections between material properties and nanoscale structure.
- Nanotech Consumer Products Display
Stain resistant slacks, super strong tennis rackets and long-lasting sunscreens were some of the consumer products put on display to show Museum visitors how nanotechnology is beginning to enter the shopper's lexicon.
- Communicating Research Workshop for REU and RET Participants
In July, the Museum and Harvard's Department of Engineering and Applied Sciences organized a workshop on communicating scientific research for an audience of REUs and RETs.
- Multimedia Research Updates for Touchscreens and Web
Education Associate Adam Weiss began experimenting this year with a prototype for a new software platform for the NSEC research touchscreen stories. Meanwhile, the search for funds to develop a more robust production and networking platform that could serve multiple museums and research centers continues. Web versions of many of the stories can be found at www.mos.org/nano.
- Nanotech Symposium for Teachers and Guidance Counselors scheduled for November, 2005
Modeled on the Museum's very successful Biotech Teacher Symposium now in its tenth year. The Museum will host its first annual Nanotech Teacher and Guidance Counselor Symposium on November 7th, 2005. Targeted at teachers and career guidance professionals, sessions will highlight applications and activities that integrate nanotechnology into existing standards and curricula. The workshop is a collaborative effort involving both the Harvard and Northeastern NSECs and the Nanoscience Working Group at Boston University.
- National Networking
- C.L. Alpert and J. Rosenberg gave a talk on NSEC public engagement activities at the Nanotech 2004 conference in Boston.
- C.L. Alpert participated in a working session on Health + Environmental Risk of Nanotechnology at the Swiss consulate in Cambridge.
- C.L. Alpert and MOS Senior Exhibit Planner Doug Smith participated in the Imaging & Imagining Nanoscience and Engineering conference at the NanoCenter with the University of South Carolina, scouted nano exhibits at the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in preparation for designing an MOS nano exhibit. C.L. Alpert also visited the Science Museum's nano exhibit in London.
- C.L. Alpert organized a panel on nanoscale informal science education at the Association of Science-Technology Centers annual meeting in San Jose, with NSFESIE Director William Frascella delivering the keynote speech and Dan Davis giving a presentation. This year Alpert is hosting a 2005 update panel at ASTC with guest speaker Mihail Roco, and an international nano panel at the 4th Science Center World Congress.
- In partnership with the USC NanoCenter, C.L. Alpert has developed a plan for creating and disseminating a science museum version of the South Carolina Citizens' School of Nanotechnology, that would be supported through the USC NSEC now pending at NSF.
- The Museum of Science has formed an additional partnership with the Center for High-Rate Nanomanufacturing, an NSF NSEC recently funded at Northeastern University. The partnership will fund additional interpretive activities, and allow the Museum to include the nanomanufacturing aspects of nanotechnology in its educational portfolio.
- The American Society for Engineering Education has accepted a paper for its June Portland conference entitled "Nano's Big Bang: Transforming Engineering Education and Outreach," by C. L. Alpert with co-authors J. Isaacs, C.M.F. Barry, G.P. Miller, and A.A. Busnaina of the Center for High-Rate Nanomanufacturing.
- The Museum of Science is submitting a proposal in response to an NSF solicitation for a Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network. A meeting with NSEC faculty in January focused on brainstorming new approaches. The Museum's partners include the Exploratorium, the Science Museum of Minnesota, the Association of Science-Technology Centers and the MRS. The award would support research into best NISE practices, a NISE online Resource Center, production and dissemination of exhibits, programs and media, the building of a national multimedia nano research sharing platform, regional network facilitation between research centers and science museums, radio reporting, and nanoscale visualization work.
NSEC Public Engagement Activities in Print
- Harvard Engineering & Applied Sciences Newsletter, Vol. III, Issue 2, Fall 2004 - PDF
- Nature, October 14, 2004 - PDF
Nature published a favorable review of Creating Connections: Museums and the Public Understanding of Current Research (Altamira Press, 2004), and cited C. L. Alpert's chapter "a highlight of the book," commenting "...one cannot fail to be impressed by her story of how seven full-time staff have laboured to weave mini-exhibits, theatre, interviews with scientists, and Internet multimedia into their daily audience discussions of breaking news." Oct. 14, 2004.