Delivering Community Education at Home

The California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) at UCLA adapts its outreach programs for remote learning

February 10, 2021
CNSI Education Programs

For 16 years, the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA has developed and delivered educational content designed to excite young people about nanoscience through hands-on experiments and in-person demonstrations. This ‘learning by doing’ approach was put to the test by the COVID-19 pandemic. Ranging from the annual Nanovation Competition, to new ‘Kitchen Science’ workshops, and UCLA summer programs including ‘Applications of Nanoscience’, the shift to an online approach presented major challenges. Under the leadership of Dr. Rita Blaik, Director of Education for the CNSI and member of the BioPACIFIC MIP education team, and in collaboration with faculty, students and postdocs, lab experiments were rebuilt from the ground up so they could be performed from home. Moving these programs online during the pandemic proved successful and offers a valuable opportunity to expand the scope and scale of community outreach efforts in the future. A key element of the BioPACIFIC mission is education, not just of the next-generation of scientists and engineers but also the community at-large. In partnership with CNSI, the BioPACIFIC MIP will support this expansion by helping develop new experiential learning opportunities focused on the power and potential of bio-derived materials.