July 19, 2024 UMD Home FabLab AIMLab

Educational outreach

Maryland Day
Each year the NanoCenter participates in the annual outreach day held on the campus of the University of Maryland, Maryland Day. Thousands of participants from the state and nearby areas, from toddlers to senior citizens, attend to learn more about the efforts and accomplishments of UMD faculty. The NanoCenter aims to do simple outreach to the science interested public. Each year the NanoCenter sets simple messaging goals, such as for the visitors to learn that "Nano means really small" or the slightly more advanced "Nano structures have different properties than their macro counterparts." Visitors to the NanoCenter's booth participate in simple activities, with visual, tactile, audible and other sensory experiences to reach different learning styles.

STEM day
The NanoCenter also participates in a campus-wide service to local middle school students, STEM Day. We give a presentation and activity suitable for middle-school learners, with the outreach goal of stimulating interest in studying nanoscience and its related disciplines.

Media outreach and media relations

The NanoCenter is able to use news media to broadcast more notable accomplishments of UMD faculty and outside researchers. Publications are continually evaluated for their newsworthiness and suitability for various news media outlets. Scientific results with high technical impact are pitched to magazines and trade journals or recommended for use in agency newsletters. When a result is both significant and interesting for the general public, the NanoCenter's science communicator works with any partnering universities and funding agencies to produce tips and releases for journalists, which are disseminated via web, news services, and social media. Occasionally a story merits further recognition with a video to accompany the story. Results presented at scientific meetings are also evaluated for their use in publicity, with a conference-focused press release issued to reporters attending that meeting. A month after public dissemination of a noteworthy story, virtual copies of all the news stories written about the research and shares them with the participating researchers and relevant public affairs departments.

News updates on UMD websites

UMD websites and communications media are a crucial part of the NanoCenter's outreach focus. A strong network of science communicators on campus, within and between colleges, activates when a newsworthy paper is identified. This ensures that research results, awards and funding, and conference announcements are promptly shared with the relevant audiences. The NanoCenter tracks relevant web metrics to ensure focus on the most important stories, and to inform understanding of newsworthiness.

Media and outreach training

The NanoCenter also offers professional training workshops to sharpen science communication skills with an emphasis on communicating with the public. Martha Heil, UMD NanoCenter Science Communicator, gives regular workshops on how to communicate research topics clearly and succinctly.

Martha J. Heil
News Media Contact
301-405-0876 (office)
626-354-5613 (cell)

Colleges A. James Clark School of Engineering
The College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences

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