Valencia students develop award-winning water filter, device protectant conceptsMai Nguyen Do June 7, 2019 0 COMMENTS
Two teams from Valencia High School’s Honors Nanoscience class competed in the finals of the California NanoSystems Institute’s third annual Nanovation Competition last week, with one team awarded second place for their product concept pitch.
During the competition, middle and high school students from across Southern California pitched their nanoscience-based business ideas to a panel of judges. The panel included venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and University of California, Los Angeles faculty and staff. The students were required to explain the science behind their idea and present their business plan to bring their idea to market.
Valencia High School students Brock Bowers, Lauren Chen, Isabelle Goralsky and Nicholas Lottermoser earned second place and $1,000 with their product concept “UltraClear,” a microplastic filter for drinking water marketed to millennial parents and health conscious consumers.
“Participating in Nanovation was a really amazing experience,” Bowers said. “By participating, you really understand the effort that goes into the product. Designing the filter was challenging, but as a team, we decided on a design that would be very effective.”
The second team — which included students Cody Aung, Andre Baghdassarian, Noah Besina and Makayla Vicente — pitched “CellShock,” a sheer thickening fluid case to better protect valuable electronics like phones, laptops and medical devices.
“This competition provides a unique opportunity for my Nanoscience students to apply their imagination, scientific knowledge, communication skills and business principles in a high stakes real world context,” Valencia Honors Nanoscience teacher Daniella Duran said. “The chance to pitch an idea to a venture capitalist is an opportunity most of us adults never get, which makes it so exciting!”
Teams began this process back in January when they submitted a 450-word abstract summarizing the need that was being filled, the current top product that fills the need and their new nanotechnology-based solution idea. To help prepare the students, ten teams and their teacher leaders were paired with UCLA graduate student mentors who participate in the CNSI education program led by materials scientist Dr. Rita Blaik, the California NanoSystems Institute’s education manager.
“The Nanovation Competition is a great opportunity for UCLA STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] graduate students to learn about and flex their entrepreneurial muscles while also giving back to the greater LA community by mentoring high school and middle school students,” Blaik said. “The hugely important intersection of high technology and business is something that most scientists and engineers don’t get any exposure to until they are faculty, much less as students.”
Mai Nguyen Do is a Vietnamese American poet and researcher. She is a lifelong Santa Clarita resident and a College of the Canyons graduate. She is also the author of Ghosts Still Walking (2016) and Battlefield Blooming (2019). Find her on Twitter @DoNguyenMai.