Do You Know What Does Nano Mean

2011 Finalist: Excellence In Science And Technology Public Awareness

Organization Embodies Modern Concept That “Small Is Big”

A small team at Science Alberta Foundation won big at an international competition with an animation about a very small-scale technology – nanotechnology. Do You Know What Nano Means? was chosen for the Academy’s 15th Annual Webby Award, the leading international award for excellence on the web.

“It’s big for us, it’s big for Alberta,” says Science Alberta Foundation’s CEO Dr. Arlene Ponting. “It’s a little not-for-profit organization competing with the best and winning.”

Explaining Nanotechnology 

She adds that nanotechnology is a significant part of Alberta’s economy and it is a growing field of technology internationally. According to the editors of Discover, nanotechnology is one of the 12 most important trends in science over the last 30 years.

The three-minute-long animated video explains the concept of nano to 8-12 year olds, and it also creates interest in possible career opportunities for children at an early age.

“Our work – including this video – is about valuing science,” Dr. Ponting says. “Science learning, awareness and promotion is as important as research itself. We need to educate our children and grandchildren if we want homegrown talent to work in the growing science industry in Alberta.”

Incredible Odds 

It’s clear that the executive 750-member body of leading web experts, business figures, luminaries, visionaries and creative celebrities who judge the Webby Awards agree with Dr. Ponting. They chose this short educational video over the work of several of the world’s best advertising agencies and animation studios, some of which have won Oscars. This year, the Webby Awards received a record nearly 10,000 entries from more than 60 countries worldwide.

The creation of Do You Know What Nano Means? was supported by Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures, under the Alberta government’s Advanced Education and Technology department. The script and artwork for the video were created by an Alberta artist and animator, who collaborated directly with the Foundation’s project managers.

Winning Concept 

As a result of Science Alberta Foundation’s Webby Award, visits to the organization’s website have increased, and Do You Know What Nano Means? has been viewed about 13,000 times by people from 114 countries. The success of the animation has made it clear to Dr. Ponting and her colleagues that they’ve got a winning concept.

“In a world of sound bites and multi-tasking, these short animations are powerful learning pieces,” she says. “I think we’ve hit the sweet spot of getting interesting science facts out there in a way that’s embraced and loved.” She adds that kids learn visually and adults, too, have responded enthusiastically to the animation.

Science Alberta Foundation consists of 15 individuals and an extended team of creative talent who in 2009/2010 alone provided science programming to nearly 800,000 individuals, reaching 218 Alberta communities. The organization embodies the modern spirit of nano – “small is the new big.” The win at the Webby’s puts Alberta on the red carpet, while playing a vital role in increasing public awareness of the benefits of science and technology and enhancing the understanding of science and technology in the province and around the world.

– Dr. Arlene Ponting
CEO, Science Alberta Foundation