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Generation Nano: Presented by the National Science Foundation and the National Nanotechnology Initiative

Rules & FAQ


  • Each submission must be made by an individual student or a team of two or three students.
  • All students must be enrolled in a high school or be home schooled in the U.S., its territories or possessions at the time of entry (e.g., the fall 2016 semester or the spring 2017 semester), and be in good standing.
  • Students are limited to participating in one project for this competition.
  • Students must be U.S. citizens, nationals or permanent residents.
  • Each entrant must submit a Parental/Guardian Permission Form, a Photo Consent Form and NSF 1515 form, available on the competition platform.
  • Previous Generation Nano finalists are not eligible for future competitions; however, previous semifinalists are eligible to compete again.
  • Employees, contractors, officers or judges of the sponsoring organizations and their children are not eligible to enter the competition.

Entry Rules

  • All entries must be received during the competition submission window.
  • All entries must be submitted in English.
  • A competition entry constitutes an agreement to adhere to the rules and stipulations set forth by the contest sponsors.
  • 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 NSF harmless 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 nonexclusive 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.

Other Rules

  • Any entrant or entry found in violation of any rule will be disqualified.
  • 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.
  • 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 competition platform.
  • All finalists must be accompanied by a parent/guardian.
  • NSF has the final say on any point not outlined in the entry rules.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can entrants be from any high school anywhere in the U.S.?
Yes, all student participants must be enrolled in high school or be homeschooled in the U.S., its territories or its possessions and be between the ages of 13 and 19 at the time of entry (i.e., the fall 2016 semester). Please review the Rules for more information.

Is there a specific grade-point average that qualifies a student to be in good standing?
No, we rely on your own educational institution to determine if you are in good standing.

What should I submit?
A complete entry has three parts: a written entry, a video and comic strip entry. Please review the Entry Guidelines for more information.

What is the length limit for the written entry?
The written entry must be submitted in three sections, each of which is limited to 1,600 characters, including spaces. Please review the Entry Guidelines for more information.

How will my comic strip entry be submitted and in what form?
You are required to submit your comic strip as a high-resolution JPEG file on the competition platform.

How will my video entry be submitted and in what form?
You must upload video submissions to YouTube and provide a link to the video on the entry form AND submit the video file (an MOV file recorded in HD at a minimum resolution of 1280 x 720) via the entry form.

Does the video have to include credits identifying the video creator and any volunteers?
No, your video does not have to include credits.

If I include credits on my video, are they included in the 90 second limit?
Yes, the entire video should be 90 seconds.

Once I submit my video, can I revise it or replace it with another video prior to the Jan. 31 deadline?
No. Once you submit a video to the contest it is considered a final submission and cannot be revised or replaced. However, you can save your entry on the competition platform and edit it before submitting.

What characterizes a winning entry?
Entries are scored based on creativity, scientific accuracy and the visual appeal of the comic strip and video. Please review Process and Prizes for more information.

How will semifinalists and finalists be notified?
All winners will be notified via E-mail, either to your own E-mail address or to a parent/guardian or trusted teacher's E-mail account.

Do I need parental/guardian permission to participate?
Yes. Every student and their parent or guardian must fill out and submit a Parental/Guardian Permission Form and a Photo Consent Form, available on the competition platform. Please review the rules for information.

What is the National Science Foundation (NSF)?
The NSF is an independent U.S. federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. Learn more about the NSF at this link.

What is the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI)?
The NNI is a U.S. Government research and development (R&D) initiative involving the nanotechnology-related activities of 20 departments and independent agencies. Find out more about the NNI at this link.

Can an individual or team create more than one superhero per entry?
Yes, a single entry may include multiple superhero characters (i.e. a pair or a team), but remember, each individual or team entrant may only submit one entry each.

Generation Nano Competition
National Science Foundation
4201 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, Virginia 22230 USA

Follow the competition #GenNano

Who: High-school students — individuals or teams of two to three

What: A written entry, 2–3 page comic strip and 90-second video introducing the hero and story • Explains importance and potential impact of societal mission • Describes nanotechnology usage

When: Competition opens October 5, 2016; submissions due by 11:59 p.m. EST, January 31, 2017. Public voting in April, 2017.

Where: Learn more and submit your entry online at

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

More Questions? Contact the Generation Nano team at