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It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s…nanotechnology

Speed read
  • Nanotechnology superhero design contest for high-school students
  • Students can create a superhero that improves one of four societal categories
  • NSF sponsors educational science videos so students can learn more about nanotechnology

Got what it takes to make a superhero as memorable as Spider-Man or Deadpool?

If so, you’re in luck. The US National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) created the Generation Nano: Small Science, Superheroes contest, in which high-school students can submit ideas for a fictional superhero that uses nanotechnology.

Build a superhero

To participate, students can create a superhero that positively impacts one of four categories:
  • Nanotechnology for justice — stop bullies and supervillains
  • Nanotechnology for relief — help those affected by natural disasters
  • Nanotechnology for health — heal those who are ill
  • Nanotechnology for the environment — create a sustainable future

The objective of the competition is to promote early interest in nanoscale STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.)

To prepare, students can view a series of “Ask a Nano Expert" videos to learn more about different nanotechnology topics.

Some of the topics that are covered include explaining the difference between nanoscale and atomic scale, working with nanoscale materials, and managing the risks associated with nanotechnology.<strong>Best in show. </strong> First place winner of the 'Generation Nano: Small Science, Superheroes' 2016 competition Eric Liu from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia, stands next to a picture of 'Nanoman,' the character he created for the competition. Courtesy Glorymar Rivera-Diaz, NSF.

To participate in the contest, students must submit a written entry, a short video, and a comic strip that introduces their superhero and explains how their superhero improves one of the four societal categories with nanotechnology.

Students are eligible for three different prizes. The first-place winner will receive $1,500, the runner-up will receive $1,000, and the people’s choice award winner will receive $750.

Turnaround for the contest is quick: the NSF and NNI will stop accepting submissions after 11:59 PM on January 31, 2017.

So what are you waiting for? You, or someone you know, could make a superhero as memorable as any of comic book artist Stan Lee’s creations. 

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