Category Archives: education

(US) Contest: Design a nanotechnology-themed superhero

This contest is open to students enrolled in US high schools or home-schooled and the deadline is Feb. 2, 2016.

High school students can lend their creativity to engineering, science and nanotechnology. Credit: NSF

High school students can lend their creativity to engineering, science and nanotechnology. Credit: NSF

Here are more details from the US National Science Foundation (NSF) Nov. 19, 2015 news release,

A brand-new competition, awarding finalists the opportunity to present their entries at the 2016 USA Science & Engineering Festival [held April 16 & 17, 2016] and compete for cash prizes, opens today for high school students interested in science, engineering and superpowers.

Generation Nano: Small Science, Superheroes is sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI). The competition invites individual students enrolled in U.S. high schools, or who are home-schooled, to submit an original idea for a superhero who uses unique nanotechnology-inspired “gear,” such as a vehicle, costume or tool.

Generation Nano encourages students to think big–which, in this case, means super small–when pondering their hero’s gear: shoelaces that decode secret radio waves, nanotechnology-infused blood cells that supercharge adrenaline or clothing that can change color to camouflage its wearer.

“The wonders of nanotechnology are inspiring an increasing number of young students to pursue science and engineering,” said NSF Senior Advisor for Science and Engineering Mihail C. Roco. “The Generation Nano competition recognizes and channels that interest, while giving students the chance to showcase their creativity at a national level.”

“I’m just thrilled about Generation Nano,” said Lisa Friedersdorf, deputy director of the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office. “This competition has the potential to excite students about science and introduce them to the novel world of nanotechnology. I can’t wait to see the submissions.”

Competition details:

  • Students must submit a written entry explaining their superhero and nanotechnology-driven gear, along with a one-page comic or 90-second video.
  • Cash prizes are $1,500 for first place, $1,000 for second place and $500 for third place.
  • Finalists will showcase their comic or video at the 2016 USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C. Final-round judging will take place at the festival.
  • Submissions are due by midnight on Feb. 2, 2016.

Through nanotechnology applications like targeted drugs, self-assembled nanodevices, molecular motors and other innovations, students never have to endure a radioactive spider bite to realize their full potential.

Visit the Generation Nano competition website for full eligibility criteria, entry guidelines, timeline and prize information.

The Generation Nano website offers resources for generating comics, accessing images and audio on this page.

For inspiration, you can take a look at my May 11, 2012 posting which features a description of the nanotechnology-enabled Extremis storyline in the Iron Man comic book series in the context of plans for the Iron Man 3 movie.

For more inspiration from 2012, there was a special exhibit at the Science Gallery in Dublin, Ireland featuring six superheroes created for the exhibit (my Sept. 14, 2012 posting; scroll down about 25% of the way to where I discuss the Magical Materials; Unleash Your Superpowers exhibit).

Good luck!

LEGO2NANO, a UK-China initiative

LEGO2NANO is a ‘summer’ school being held in China sometime during September 2015 (I could not find the dates). The first summer school, held last year, featured a prototype functioning atomic force microscope made of Lego bricks according to an Aug. 25, 2015 news item on Nanowerk,

University College London students from across a range of disciplines travel to China to team up with students from Beijing, Boston (USA) and Taipei (Taiwan) for an action-packed two-week hackathon summer school based at Tsinghua University’s Beijing and Shenzhen campuses.

LEGO2NANO aims to bring the world of nanotechnology to school classrooms by initiating projects to develop low-cost scientific instruments such as the Open AFM—an open-source atomic force microscope assembled from cheap, off-the-shelf electronic components, Arduino, Lego and 3D printable parts.

Here’s an image used to publicize the first summer school in 2014,

LEGO2NANO – a summer school about making nanotechnology, 6–14 September 2014, Beijing, China LEGO2NANO关于纳米技术暑期学校2014年9月6-14日

LEGO2NANO – a summer school about making nanotechnology, 6–14 September 2014, Beijing, China

An August 20, 2015 University College of London press release, which originated the news item, provides more detail about the upcoming two-week session,

The 2015 LEGO2NANO challenge is focused on developing a range of innovative imaging and motion-sensitive instruments based on optical pick-up units available in any DVD head.

Aside from the intense, daily making sessions, the programme is packed with trips and visits to local Chinese schools, university laboratories, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing’s electronics markets, Shenzhen’s Open Innovation Laboratory (SZOIL)  and SEEED Studio. The students will also have daily talks and presentations from international experts on a variety of subjects such as the international maker movement, the Chinese education system, augmented reality and DIY instrumentation.

You can find more information about LEGO2NANO here at and here at

Time Warner Cable donates $10,000 for Boys and Girls Clubs’ nanotechnology workshops

Time Warner Cable (TWC) has partnered with Omni Nano to deliver nanotechnology education workshops to children, ages 11 to 17. From an Aug. 4, 2015 news item on Azonano,

Omni Nano is honored to announce a partnership with Time Warner Cable’s (TWC) Connect a Million Minds initiative to educate our youth about nanotechnology and opportunities in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) careers.

This program will deliver a nanotechnology workshop to twenty Boys & Girls Clubs in Los Angeles County, reaching about 500 kids from ages 11-17 (grades 7-12) and from diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Nanotechnology is a highly interdisciplinary STEM field. Growing rapidly, nanotechnology has been forecasted to become a trillion dollar industry and provide 6 million jobs by 2020.

An Aug. 3, 2015 Omni Nano news release on MarketWired, which originated the news item, provides a few more details about the workshop, which has been presented previously,

“Nanotechnology will make a serious impact on our world. Omni Nano teaches students about ‘life-changing’ applications of nanotechnology — including personalized medicine, new cancer treatments, clean and sustainable energy, widely-accessible clean water, and high-tech electronics,” said Dr. Marco Curreli, Founder and Executive Director of Omni Nano. “Our goal is to inspire students to continue learning STEM in order to become the next generation of scientists and engineers that America needs.”

The workshop program provides a 60 minute, multimedia presentation with hands on activities introducing nanotechnology to the participants. These workshops focus on the practical applications of nanotechnology, engaging students by explaining cutting-edge technologies using basic science concepts. By teaching youth about new products, developments, and discoveries, they learn the science and engineering behind innovation.

Since its start in 2013, Omni Nano’s Discover Nanotechnology program has offered over 70 workshops, inspiring over 2,200 students, at public and private schools, after-school programs, and youth conferences.

The Los Angeles County Alliance for Boys and Girls Clubs has already provided several Clubs with this program with outstanding success and will be assisting with coordinating and scheduling these workshops for the feature. Support from TWC for the STEM nanotechnology program will run until the end of February 2016.

Dr. Curreli commented, “Support from technology companies like Time Warner Cable is critical to disseminate and explain the science behind modern technologies to our youth, and put them on a path to pursue STEM careers. This is certainly an important investment TWC is putting into our local youth.”

There is some additional information in the news release about the the partners in this initiative,

About Omni Nano:

Omni Nano creates educational resources and programs to teach nanotechnology at the high school level and inspire today’s youth to become the scientists and engineers of tomorrow. Omni Nano believes that introducing nanotechnology to students while they are still enrolled in their secondary studies will better prepare them for their professional careers in the globalized, high-tech economy of the 21st Century. Omni Nano provides nanotechnology workshops to public and private schools, after-school programs, and youth conferences through their Discover Nanotechnology program. Discover Nanotechnology workshops expose students to modern uses of STEM/nanotechnology, showing them the innovative, exciting, creative, and explorative side of STEM that can make real and significant impacts on our world. To learn more about Omni Nano and their nanotechnology educational resources, visit

About Time Warner Cable:

Time Warner Cable Inc. TWC, +0.98% [link removed] is among the largest providers of video, high-speed data, and voice services in the United States, connecting 15 million customers to entertainment, information and each other. Time Warner Cable Business Class offers data, video, and voice services to businesses of all sizes, cell tower backhaul services to wireless carriers and enterprise-class, cloud-enabled hosting, managed applications and services. Time Warner Cable Media, the advertising sales arm of Time Warner Cable, offers national, regional and local companies innovative advertising solutions. More information about the services of Time Warner Cable is available at, and

About Connect a Million Minds:

Time Warner Cable’s (TWC) Connect a Million Minds (CAMM) is a five-year, $100 million cash and in-kind philanthropic initiative to address America’s declining proficiency in science, technology and math (STEM), which puts our children at risk of not competing successfully in a global economy. Using its media assets, TWC creates awareness of the issue and inspires students to develop the STEM skills they need to become the problem solvers of tomorrow. TWC’s national CAMM partners are CSAS (Coalition for Science After School) and FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). Local TWC markets are activating CAMM across the country with community-specific programs and partnerships. To learn more about Connect a Million Minds, visit

About Los Angeles County Alliance for Boys and Girls Clubs:

The Los Angeles County Alliance for Boys & Girls Clubs is made up of 27 Boys & Girls Club organizations serving over 140,000 youth ages 6-18 throughout Los Angeles County. Boys and Girls Clubs provide youth development programs during critical non-school hours. Los Angeles County Alliance for Boys & Girls Clubs is a unified and collaborative force representing all 27 Clubs with the purpose of securing resources, marketing, and financial support to further the efforts of individual Clubs and increase the impact and reach in their communities. More information about the Los Angeles County Alliance for Boys & Girls Clubs is available at

While I’m intrigued by a news release concerning an educational initiative that includes a link to a webpage tracking the corporate partner’s (TWC) stock price, I see no need to include the link here.

Park Nano Academy: How Graphene–based Nanomaterials and Films Revolutionize Science webinar

There’s another Park Systems webinar coming up on July 9, 2015 (the last one concerning Nanostructured Polymers and Nanomaterials for Oil & Gas was mentioned  in my June 9, 2015 posting).

This latest webinar series is focused on graphene, from a June 29, 2015 Park Systems news release,

Park Systems, world-leader in atomic force microscopy (AFM) is hosting a webinar to provide advanced scientific research into new classes of Nanoscale Graphene-based materials poised to revolutionize industries such as semiconductor, material science, bio science and energy.   Touted as ‘the wonder material of the 21st Century’ by the researchers who were awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize in physics for their graphene research,  this carbon-based lightweight material is 200 times stronger than steel and one of the most promising and versatile materials ever discovered.

The Park Systems Webinar titled Graphene Based Nanomaterials and Films will be given by Professor Rigoberto Advincula of Case Western Reserve University on July 9, 2015 at 9am PST.  Prof. Advincula is an eminent professor, researcher and expert in the area of polymers, smart coatings, nanomaterials, surface analytical methods for a variety of applications.

“The discovery of graphene is but a continuing evolution on how we analyze, treat, synthesize carbon based nanomaterials which includes the fullerenes, nanotubes, and now C polymorph platelets called graphene,” explains Dr. Advincula.  “Graphene is used in many areas of research and potential applications for electronics, solid-state devices, biosensors, coatings and much more for numerous industries where there are opportunities to make quantum improvements in methods and materials.”

Graphene is part of the C polymorph family of nanomaterials and because of the platy nature of the basal plane, it’s reactivity on the edges, and various redox forms, it is an excellent thin film additive and component that can be grown by vapor deposition methods as well as exfoliation. Current research into dispersion, preparations, and patterning of graphene using Park Systems AFM to identify nanoscale characteristics and surface properties as well as conductivity indicates that numerous breakthroughs in materials and chemicals are on the horizon.

“Park AFM is the natural tool to investigate Graphene’s adsorbed state on a flat substrate as well as characterize its surface properties and conductivity because of the reliability and accuracy of the equipment,” adds Dr. Advincula who will give the Webinar on July 9. “AFM is useful in understanding the surface properties of these products but is equally valuable in failure analysis because of the capability to do in-situ or real time measurements of failure with a temperature stage or a magnetic field.”

Graphene-based Nanomaterials offer many innovations in industries such as electronics, semiconductor, life science, material science and bio science. Some potential advancements already being researched include flexible electronics, anti bacterial paper, actuators, electrochoromic devices and transistors.

“Park Systems is presenting this webinar as part of Park Nano Academy, which will offer valuable education and shared knowledge across many Nano Science Disciplines and Industries as a way to further enable NanoScale advancements,” comments Keibock Lee, Park Systems President.  “We invite all curious Nano Researchers to join our webinars and educational forums to launch innovative ideas that propel us into future Nano Scientific Technologies.”

The webinar will highlight how the research into is conducted and present some of the findings by Professor Rigoberto Advincula of Case Western Reserve University.

This webinar is available at no cost and is part of Park Systems Nano Academy.

To register go to:


A Nanorama Laboratory

The last Nanorama project featured here was the Nanorama Car Workshop in a Sept. 24, 2014 post. According to a Feb. 4, 2015 news item on Nanotechnology Now, there’s a new project,

The “Nanorama Laboratory”, an interactive online tool on the safe handling of nanomaterials, is now available in English on The tool, developed in close collaboration with the German Social Accident Insurance Institution for the raw materials and chemical industry (BG RCI), was devised by the Innovation Society, St. Gallen. It is part of the nano-platform “Safe Handling of Nanomaterials” of the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV).

A Feb. 4, 2015 The Innovation Society press release, which originated the news item, expands on the topic,

The “Nanorama Laboratory“ is one of three interactive educational tools available on the Nano-Platform “Safe Handling of Nanomaterials“ (; to date, the platform and the remaining “Nanoramas” are available in German). The “Nanorama Laboratory” was developed by the Innovation Society, St. Gallen, in close collaboration with the German Social Accident Insurance Institution for the raw materials and chemical industry (BG RCI). It offers insights into the safe handling of nanomaterials and installations used to manufacture or process nanomaterials in laboratories. Complementary to hazard evaluation assessments, it enables users to assess the occupational exposure to nanomaterials and to identify necessary protective measures when handling said materials in laboratories.

The Innovation Society offers an image from the latest Nanorama made available in English,

Courtesy: The Innovation Society

Courtesy: The Innovation Society

30 or more PhD nanotechnology studentships available in New Zealand

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) lists a notice posted Jan. 5, 2015 for 30+ PhD studentships in the field of nanotechnology available in New Zealand. The posting comes from New Zealand’s McDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology on its ‘studentship’ webpage (Note: A link has been removed),

The MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology is New Zealand’s premier research organisation concerned with high quality research and research education in materials science and nanotechnology.

30+ PhD studentships are now open across our research areas and partnership institutions.

Successful candidates will be a member of the MacDiarmid Institute, a national Centre of Research Excellence which provides collaborative opportunities and a thriving environment to work in.

Each scholarship is worth NZD$27,000  per annum (not taxed) and includes all student fees.

Come to New Zealand to enjoy the best of life and science!

For more details on specific projects, deadlines, etc – contact the appropriate MacDiarmid Institute investigator  from the list below.

Look out for 6 Postdoctoral Fellowships to be advertised soon.

To give you a sense of the possibilities I have excerpted a few of the studentship descriptions (Note: formatting has been changed and links removed),

Professor Kevin E. Smith

Head, School of Chemical Sciences
University of Auckland

Synchrotron Radiation X-Ray Spectroscopic Studies of Functional Metal Oxides

The available Ph.D. project involves the experimental study of the electronic structure of transition metal oxides using a suite of synchrotron radiation-based spectroscopies.

Professor Jadranka Travas-Sejdic

The University of Auckland(School of Chemical Sciences)

2D and 3D conducting polymer structures to interrogate and sense biological cells.

The PhD project will be highly cross-disciplinary involving materials chemistry, microfabrication of conducting polymer structures and their interaction with biological cells.

The PhD will be enrolled at UoA but the project will be highly collaborative between The University of Auckland and the University of Canterbury.

Dr Geoff Willmott

The University of Auckland

New Tools for Soft Nanomechanics: Nanoaspiration

We have a growing capability in nanofluidics, an emerging field which aims to understand the physics and chemistry of soft nanomaterials, and of fluidic transport in confined spaces.

Dr Duncan McGillivray
The University of Auckland

Biologicaly patterning of surfaces

A PhD scholarship in chemistry is offered for research into biological patterning of surfaces based at the School of Chemical Sciences at the University of Auckland.

Dr Shane Telfer

Massey University, Palmerston North

Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are an exciting class of porous materials with a raft of applications.

The project will focus on the design, synthesis, and characterisation of MOFs for gas storage and separations.  Novel spectroscopic techniques will be employed to gain insight into the MOF structure and functional properties.

Good luck to all the applicants!

Simon Fraser University – SCFC861Nanotechnology, The Next Big Idea: course Week 6

Week 6, (Nov. 27, 2014) of my course called, Nanotechnology: The Next Big Idea and which is part of Simon Fraser University’s (SFU) Continuing Studies programme was also the last week. For a change of pace, we had Rob Shields as a guest ‘Skyping in’ from Edmonton, Alberta to talk about the University of Alberta’s Nanotechnology and the Community project. (Mentioned here previously in an Aug. 7, 2012 posting about a postdoctoral position on the research team and in a March 11, 2013 posting about one of the project’s public engagement exercises, the ‘citizen summit’.)

They haven’t quite finished with the analysis of their results from their public engagement modules but, at this point, it seems that the folks in Edmonton are future-oriented and positive about the impact that nanotechnology could have on the community. Concerns tend to be more oriented to standard ‘city’ issues such as accommodating changes rather than ‘nanotechnology will run amuck’ issues. The materials from the public engagement modules are not yet available online but should be soon (I haven’t been given a date).

Getting back to my usual programme, here’s a description of what we were covering this last week (from Nanotechnology: The Next Big Idea on the SFU Continuing Studies website),

Week 6: Nanotechnology: Social and Scientific Implications

Quantum physics being brought into our daily lives via nanotechnology is already having an impact on the fields of education and scientific research. A textual reading of the research also suggests themes of control, power and creation similar to those associated with previous emerging technologies such as electricity.

My Week six PowerPoint slides,


Here are my ‘notes’ for yesterday’s class consisting largely of brief heads designed to remind me of the content to be found by clicking the link directly after the head.

Week6Nano & soc

Happy Reading!,

Chalmers University gears up to offer Graphene Science and Technology, an online, international course

They’ll be offering a MOOC, massive open online course, at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, on the topic of graphene starting March 23, 2015 according a Nov. 21, 2014 news item on Nanowerk,

Starting in 2015, Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden will be a global disseminator of knowledge. The beginning of the year will mark the start of ChalmersX – the venture of Chalmers moocs on the platform

Chalmers announces its membership in edx at the ongoing conference Edx Global Forum in Boston. Edx is the platform where Chalmers’ moocs will be accessible. Universities such as MIT, Harvard, UC Berkeley, the University of Tokyo and many more offer their moocs on the same platform.

“This is a new and different way for us to take on the role of knowledge disseminator in our society“, says Maria Knutson Wedel, vice president for undergraduate and master’s education at Chalmers.

With a computer and an Internet connection, course participants all over the world can watch video lectures, take part in discussions, do assignments and take exams.

“Previously, we have primarily shared knowledge on a local and national level. The technology today enables global knowledge sharing – we can reach people who need the knowledge in question no matter where they are located in the world,“ says Maria Knutson Wedel.

A Nov. 21, 2014 Chalmers University press release on, which seems to have originated the news item, notes that the university is the consortium lead on the European Union’s Graphene Flagship project,

The first ChalmersX mooc will be an introduction to the super-material graphene: Introduction to Graphene Science and Technology. The subject is at the forefront of research, and EU’s biggest research initiative ever – Graphene Flagship – is based at Chalmers.

The course is led by graphene researcher Jie Sun. He took the initiative to the mooc as he saw the need of large-scale education about graphene.

“I hope to give the participants of the course basic knowledge of graphene. At the end of the course, an engineer should be able to determine if graphene is suitable for the company’s products, and a student should be able to decide if the subject is of interest for continued studies”, says Jie Sun.

Moocs are a growing trend in higher education. There is a great deal of interest in the courses – each one typically attracts tens of thousands of participants.

Maria Knutson Wedel believes that moocs can be very useful as supplementary or continuing professional development for people who are already part of working life. She does not believe that the courses can completely replace a traditional campus education, however. Campus education are closely connected and designed to correspond to the expectations from industry, for example. This type of education also results in a degree and a title, something which companies consider when hiring.

“However, this probably depends in part on traditional thinking on the part of the people who do the hiring at companies. In the future, we may reach a point that knowledge, regardless of how it has been obtained, becomes more important than certificates and grades,“ says Maria Knutson Wedel.

The ChalmersX moocs will be specially adapted to their context – the recordings will not consist of traditional 45-minute lectures. The teachers who have developed the course have carefully analysed the concepts they want participants to come away with after the course. The content is then boiled down to short video clips of 5-7 minutes each.

The next mooc in line after the course on graphene will be on sustainability in everyday life, starting in May 2015.

More about: Moocs

Moocs, an abbreviation of massive open online courses, are online courses aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web. The term mooc was coined in 2008. As opposed to traditional distance learning, moocs do not have any prerequisites for admission. Exams are conducted by machine and there are platforms on which participants can get in contact with each other and discuss. The courses do not generate higher education credits, but the participants do receive a certificate for completing the course.

They do have a course prerequisite, from the Introduction to Graphene Science and Technology course,

In order to benefit fully from this course you should have an adequate knowledge of general physics and university level mathematics.

Here’s a video of Jie Sun talking about graphene and his course,

Enjoy the course!

Simon Fraser University – SCFC861Nanotechnology, The Next Big Idea: course Week 5

Week 5, (Nov. 20, 2014) of my course called, Nanotechnology: The Next Big Idea and which is part of Simon Fraser University’s (SFU) Continuing Studies programme is also the penultimate week. Thankfully,, the technology worked a bit better this week although there was one notable blip. My Week Five PowerPoint slides and notes of a sort can be found after this brief description of the class,

Week 5: The Geo-political Situation

By establishing a National Nanotechnology Initiative in 2000, the US government established itself as a world leader in the field, eclipsing the UK. Some thirty governments have since followed suit, establishing their own nanotech initiatives. Canada, for better or worse, is not one of them.

Here’s the week 5 slide deck,


Here are my ‘notes’ for yesterday’s class consisting largely of brief heads designed to remind me of the content to be found by clicking the link directly after the head.


Happy Reading!

Simon Fraser University – SCFC861Nanotechnology, The Next Big Idea: course Week 4

Week 4, (Nov. 13, 2014) of my course called, Nanotechnology: The Next Big Idea and which is part of Simon Fraser University’s (SFU) Continuing Studies programme proved a bit of an adventure as there were two technology breakdowns. Thankfully,, we did have about 30 uninterrupted minutes at one point. My Week Four PowerPoint slides and notes of a sort can be found in links at the end of this post.

For those who may be mildly curious, here’s a description of what was covered in the fourth week (from SFU’s course description webpage),

Week 4: Violent and Other Confrontations

Nanotechnology has provided fuel for confrontations and panics from mail bombs in Mexico to the attempted bombing of an IBM nanotech facility in Switzerland to protests that closed down public dialogue sessions in France to pre-emptive legislation by Berkeley, California’s city council.

Here’s the week 4 slide deck:


Here are my ‘notes’ for yesterday’s class consisting largely of brief heads designed to remind me of the content to be found by clicking the link directly after the head.

Week 4_Confrontations

Happy Reading!