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A Message from Stan Lee

Stan Lee is a comic book writer, editor, publisher, actor, and former president and chairman of Marvel Comics.

He is best known for creating comic book superheroes such as Spider-Man, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Thor and the X-Men. The Stan Lee Foundation focuses on literacy, education and the arts.

Stan Lee's interest in how science inspires the powers of his superheroes underlies his support for NSF's Generation Nano competition.

About the Competition

When can I enter?
Submit your entry between Sept. 18, 2017 and Jan. 10, 2018, 11:59 p.m. EST.

Who can enter the Gen Nano competition?
Middle and high school students who are U.S. citizens, nationals or permanent residents.

What types of entries are accepted?
A complete entry has two components: a written essay and either a short comic OR a 90-second video.

How are the winners selected?
A panel of expert judges reviews each entry and scores them based on three elements: Use of science and technology, creativity and artistic / technical quality.

What are the prizes?

  • Scholarship money to the first- and second-place high school team / individual and first- and second-place middle school team / individual
  • All first place teams / individuals also win a trip to Washington, D.C., for the USA Science & Engineering Festival, April 6-8, 2018.
  • Honorarium for teacher(s) involved with the first place teams / individuals.

Generation Nano Background

The idea of a superhero armed with fantastic powers and tremendous technology has mesmerized the world for nearly a century. The ability to fly without wings, climb buildings like a gecko or see through walls is popularly interpreted as magical or of no scientific foundation. As we make advances in science and technology, we're discovering that superhero powers may not be that far-fetched.

Through science and technology applications like targeted drug delivery, smart materials, molecular motors, advanced sensors and artificial red blood cells, we may not have to wait until that fateful day when we're bitten by a radioactive spider in order to become superhuman.

NSF and the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) are excited to continue Generation Nano: Superheroes Inspired by Science! While Gen Nano started as a competition based on nanotechnology, we are thrilled to expand the competition to all fields of science and engineering.

The competition asks middle and high school students to use scientific research to drive or equip an original superhero. Students can envision science that is grounded in current research but not yet possible, allowing them to learn about the potentials and limitations of real-world science and technology.

A complete entry consists of two components: a written section and either a short comic or a 90-second video. Entrants should introduce their superhero, demonstrate how they incorporated scientific research into their superhero's story and explain how it drives them on their mission. Winners will be chosen from both the middle school and high school categories.

Generation Nano Competition
National Science Foundation
2415 Eisenhower Ave
Alexandria, VA 22314

Follow the competition #GenNano

Who: 6-12 grade -- individuals or teams of 2-3

What: A short comic OR video to tell a story and describe how your hero uses science on their mission or quest

When: Enter between Sept. 18, 2017-Jan. 10, 2018, 11:59 p.m. EST

Where: Learn more and enter at

Why: To promote an early interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Questions? Contact the Generation Nano Team at

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