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Press Release 16-016
Video: Six new stories debut in 'Science of Innovation' series

National Science Foundation, NBC Learn and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office explore process behind innovation

Poeple at a table creating origami

Origami may be the future for designing tools that can be used in space exploration.
Credit and Larger Version

February 17, 2016

A new set of educational videos, released today, continues an exploration begun three years ago into the creative process that leads to innovation. From 3-D bioprinting that could generate heart tissue to origami-inspired structures built for space exploration, the six new "Science of Innovation" stories highlight how innovation can turn fundamental science and engineering ideas into significant societal and economic impacts.

NBC Learn, the educational arm of the NBCUniversal News Group, produced the first set of "Science of Innovation" videos in 2013, in partnership with the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Today's release coincides with the appearance of Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and USTPO Director Michelle Lee at an event at Iowa's Bettendorf High School to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. The event will feature multiple stories from the new "Science of Innovation" collection to help promote STEM education.

"Across the country our schools are full of bright students with creative imaginations and soaring optimism. These 'Science of Innovation' videos demonstrate that when you mix a big idea with an entrepreneurial spirit, there is no limit to what can be achieved," said Lee. "By continuing to engage with students and encourage them to pursue an education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, we give them the tools to turn their dreams into realities and lay the foundation of future innovation."

These new videos continue NBC Learn's and NSF's Emmy award-winning "Science of..." partnership that has produced 12 other educational video series.

"NSF's investments in basic research have led to surprising and powerful innovations, and contribute to many technologies that are part of our daily lives," said Pramod Khargonekar, NSF assistant director for engineering. "Understanding how engineering and science research leads to beneficial impacts on our lives, as these videos with NBC Learn and USTPO show, is key to creating a better world where people and technology can realize their full potential."

Narrated by NBC News and MSNBC anchor Kate Snow, the six videos will be available through NBC affiliate stations, and can also be seen for free online at NBCLearn.com, NSF.gov, Science360.gov, and uspto.gov.

Each video aligns to state and national education standards. Lesson plans and activities will be available soon to help teachers engage students in the classroom and teach key concepts about innovation and STEM.

"We're pleased to partner with the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to launch the next phase in NBC Learn's 'Science of Innovation' series," said Soraya Gage, vice president and general manager of NBC Learn. "These videos can inspire students to become inventors of the future whose ideas shape our society."

NBC Learn will host a Twitter chat where viewers can learn more and join the discussion by using the hashtag #ScienceofInnovation on Wednesday, March 2, at 1 p.m. ET. The chat will feature some of the innovators profiled in the videos, as well as experts from NSF and USPTO.

The new "Science of Innovation" videos feature the inventions of six trailblazing scientists and engineers from around the country, including:

"3-D Bioprinting" -- Adam Feinberg of Carnegie Mellon University has created a technique that expands the use of 3-D printing technology and could one day allow researchers to print heart tissue.

"Origami Structures" -- Origami is the ancient Japanese art of paper folding. To engineer Mary Frecker of Pennsylvania State University, it is the future for designing tools that could be used in fields such as medicine and space exploration.

"Friction-Stir Welding" -- Welding has long been used to join pieces of metal together. At the University of North Texas, Rajiv Mishra is using a form of welding in a new technology that can improve metal's strength, toughness, and other properties. It could bring new opportunities to the automotive and aircraft industries.

"Motion Controller for Virtual Reality" -- William Provancher of Tactical Haptics has developed a device that combines the sense of touch with technology. Called the "reactive grip," it allows the user to experience the virtual world in a whole new way.

"Micro-Fabrication for Cochlear Implants" -- Angelique Johnson is the CEO of MEMStim, a company innovating how electrode arrays in cochlear implants are manufactured. Using automated micro-fabrication, instead of costly hand-made manufacturing, Johnson is able to lower the cost of production, allowing more people in need of implants to afford them.

"Using Viruses to Make Batteries" -- While most people see viruses as harmful, MIT's Angela Belcher sees the future of energy. Belcher uses viruses engineered in her laboratory to form nano-scale wires for tiny batteries that could eventually be used to produce a wide range of electronics at a lower cost.

-NSF-

Media Contacts
Bobbie Mixon, NSF, (703) 292-8485, bmixon@nsf.gov
Tara L. Smith, NBCUniversal News Group, (212) 413-5715, tara.smith@nbcuni.com
Sarah Maxwell, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, (571) 272-8400, sarah.maxwell@uspto.gov

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2016, its budget is $7.5 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $626 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

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