Nano & Society, a National Science Foundation-supported program developed by the Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network (now the National Informal STEM Education Network or NISE Network), sought to encourage public discourse and to further public literacy, awareness, and engagement with nanotechnologies. After a year of planning and developing materials, kits, and more for institutions across the United States, the program was successfully deployed through a series of workshops in 2012–2013.
This work allowed for extensive evaluation of the program's successes, as well as areas where it needed improvement. In particular, this paper highlights the important benefits public engagement in science brings to educators and professionals, as well as to the public itself. Museum professionals and scientists could partake in professional development workshops prior to the events, an aspect that participants reported was useful for developing facilitation skills and productive strategies for public engagement.
How to Use
This paper is helpful for science center and museum professionals who are eager to identify how to encourage their colleagues to care about public engagement with science. This paper proves a useful summary of the Nano & Society planning process and considerations. It highlights areas of success, key considerations for developing such materials (e.g., drawing on existing infrastructure in museums, in line with values such as openness and transparency, and professional development), and an analysis of best practices and areas for improvement.