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Informational Only

This challenge is no longer accepting new submissions.

Generation Nano - Small Science, Superheroes

High school students design nanotechnology-enabled gear for an original superhero

National Science Foundation

Total Cash Prizes Offered: $3,000
Type of Challenge: Creative (design & multimedia)
Partner Agencies | Non-federal: National Nanotechnology Initative
Submission Start: 11/19/2015 12:00 PM ET
Submission End: 02/02/2016 11:59 PM ET

This challenge is externally hosted.

You can view the challenge details here: http://www.nsf.gov/GenNano

Description

You are invited to compete in "Generation Nano: Small Science, Superheroes," a competition that asks individual high school students to submit an original idea for a superhero, using modern nanotechnology research to inspire unique "gear" for their hero. Students will submit a short written entry, as well as a short video or comic, that illustrates their superhero's nanotechnology-enabled gear. Winners will receive cash prizes and the opportunity to showcase their creation at the 2016 USA Science & Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C.

The idea of the superhero armed with their fantastical powers has served to mesmerize the world for nearly a century. The ability to fly, cling to walls with bare hands, and see with X-ray vision is popularly interpreted as a supposition based on no solid foundation. Often, superhero abilities appear magical rather than being grounded in science and technology. As we make advances in nanotechnology and materials research, we're discovering that superhero powers may not be that farfetched.

Through nanotechnology applications like targeted drugs, self-assembled nanodevices, molecular motors, graphene in electrical supercapacitors, and artificial red blood cells, we may not have to wait until that fateful day we're bitten by a radioactive spider in order to become superhuman!

The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) are excited to introduce "Generation Nano: Small Science, Superheroes!" This competition asks high school students to design a costume, gadget, vehicle or other gear for an original superhero that uses technology extrapolated from current nanotechnology research. This competition will help students learn about the potential and limitations of real world nanotechnology. Students will submit a written entry explaining their superhero and how they have incorporated nanotechnology research into their hero's gear, as well as either a short comic strip or video introducing the superhero.

Prizes

First Prize
Cash Prize Amount: $1,500
$1500 cash prize and a paid trip for the contestant and a chaperone to attend the 2016 Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C.

Second Place
Cash Prize Amount: $1,000
$1000 cash prize and a paid trip for the contestant and a chaperone to attend the 2016 Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C.

Third Prize
Cash Prize Amount: $500
$500 cash prize and a paid trip for the contestant and a chaperone to attend the 2016 Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C.

Rules

  • A competition entry constitutes an agreement to adhere to the rules and stipulations set forth by the contest sponsors.
  • Any entrant or entry found in violation of any rule will be disqualified.
  • Each entrant certifies, through submission to the contest, that the entry is their own original creative work and does not violate or infringe the creative work of others, as protected under U.S. copyright law or patent law.
  • By entering the contest, the entrant agrees to hold harmless, NSF for all legal and administrative claims to include associated expenses that may arise from any claims related to their submission or its use.
  • All judges' decisions are final and may not be appealed.
  • Entrants retain all copyright and equivalent rights but give NSF non-exclusive rights to use their names, likenesses, quotes, submissions or any part of the submissions for educational publicity and/or promotional purposes. These include, but are not limited to, website display, print materials and exhibits.
  • NSF will not be responsible for any claims or complaints from third parties about any disputes of ownership regarding the ideas, solutions, images or video.
  • Winners and their parents or guardians are responsible for all taxes or other fees connected with the prize received and/or travel paid for by the sponsoring organization.
  • Employees, contractors, officers or judges of the sponsoring organizations are not eligible to enter the competition.
  • NSF reserves the right to modify or cancel the competition at any time during the duration of the competition for any reason, including but not limited to an insufficient number of qualified entries received.
  • Should NSF decide to bring winning contestants to Washington, D.C., or to any other location for promotional and other purposes, expenses paid by NSF will be within the limits set forth in law according to federal travel regulations.
  • All contestants agree that they, their heirs and estates shall hold harmless the United States, the employees of the federal government, and all employees of NSF for any and all injuries and/or claims arising from participation in this contest, to include that which may occur while traveling to or participating in contest activities.
  • All contestants must submit a Parental/Guardian Permission Form and Photo Consent Form, available on the entry platform on the competition website.
  • All finalists must be accompanied by a parent /guardian or chaperone to the 2016 USA Science & Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C.
  • NSF has the final say on any point not outlined in the entry rules.

Judging Criteria

Creativity
Percentage: 25
The originality and quality of both the superhero and his or her story as well as the application of Nanotechnology through the accessory

Use of Nanotechnology
Percentage: 50
How accurately the entrant incorporated nanotechnology into their story, possible unexpected societal consequences of the technology, as well as ways to mitigate those risks

Artistic and Technical Quality
Percentage: 25
The visual appeal and refined execution of each entrant’s comic strip or video

How To Enter

A complete entry consists of two components, a written entry and a comic strip or video entry, described below. Entrants should review the entry form on the online platform for more details about the submission requirements and process. Entrants must register through the online platform. A successful entry will be original, creative and visually appealing. No gratuitous violence or other inappropriate content will be permitted. Written Entry The written entry will be submitted on the challenge platform in the four sections detailed below. Each section has a 1,600-character limit including spaces (about 250 words).  
  • The Superhero: Name your superhero. Who are they and what is their story? Clearly and succinctly describe the main attributes of your hero and provide any necessary background information about them, including abilities, accessories and strengths and weaknesses.
  • The Accessory/Gear: Describe your superhero’s nanotechnology-enabled accessory or gear. Is it a vehicle, costume, weapon, or something else? Make sure the description focuses on the attributes of the gear: What can it do and why? How does it help the superhero?
  • The Technology: Describe how your gear incorporates nanotechnology. Give a background of the research behind your chosen technology. How does current research make your gear possible? What further advances are needed to make the gear a reality? This section does not need to be overly technical, but you should include at least two references to current nanotechnology research either in the form of news articles or scholarly journal articles (not Wikipedia), to support your explanation of the technology. The technology doesn’t have to be currently possible, but there must be research to support that it may be in the future. Extra space will be given for references.
  • The Unexpected: There are often unexpected consequences as new technologies enter into society. Describe one possible result if your nanotechnology-enabled gear was used irresponsibly (for example, like the consequences of invisibility cloaks explored in this video). How could society help reduce the risks of this unplanned consequence?
  Comic Strip Entry The comic strip entry will be submitted on the online competition platform and should be no longer than one page. The comic strip should:
  • Clearly introduce the superhero and gear and tell a story. The comic strip should have a unified voice, vitality and energy, and should emphasize how the accessory is useful in overcoming the story’s conflict. It should also give insights not provided in the written entry to create a novel presentation. A successful entry will be visually striking and edited to a high standard. The comic strip should also deliver clear and understandable messages using non-technical language.
  • Be composed either by hand or using a digital comic strip generator or drawing program.
  • Not include any copyrighted imagery or items (resources for non-copyrighted images below).
  • Be a JPEG file type.
  • Provide a short caption to be displayed with the comic strip if chosen for presentation.
Video Entry The video entry will be submitted on the online competition platform and should consist of a single video, no longer than 90-seconds.
  • The video should clearly introduce the superhero and gear and articulate a story. The video should have a unified voice, vitality and energy, and should emphasize how the gear is useful in overcoming the story’s conflict. It should also give insights not provided in the written entry to create a novel presentation. A successful entry will be visually striking and edited to a high standard. The video should also deliver clear and understandable messages using non-technical language.
  • Videos do not have to include credits, but if they do, these will be included in the 90-second time limit.
  • Entrants must upload video submissions to YouTube and provide a link to the video on the entry form.
  • Provide a short caption to be displayed with the video if chosen for presentation.