Two teams from Valencia High School’s Honors Nanoscience class competed in the finals of the California NanoSystems Institute’s third annual Nanosystems Competition, with one team taking home second place.
In a news release issued by William S. Hart Union High School District officials, teams competed in a “Shark Tank”-style competition, with middle and high school students from across Southern California pitching their nanoscience-based business ideas to a panel of judges, who were venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and UCLA faculty and staff.
“The students were required to not only explain the science behind their idea, but to also present their business plan to bring their ideas to market,” the district’s news release read.
Daniella Duran, VHS’s honors nanoscience teacher, said the competition provided a unique opportunity for her students to apply what they had learned that year in class and combine it with real world context.
“To prepare, we partnered with Mr. (Dennis) Mifflin’s entrepreneurship class to get feedback on the business aspects before the final pitch, which helped students see the value in cross-curricular collaboration,” said Duran. “The chance to pitch an idea to a venture capitalist is an opportunity most of us adults never get, which makes it so exciting.”
Valencia students Brock Bowers, Lauren Chen, Isabelle Goralsky and Nicholas Lottermoser claimed second place and $1,000 with their idea “UltraClear,” a microplastic filter for drinking water marketed to millennial parents and health-conscious consumers.
“Nanovation helped remove the stigma that scientists and engineers work alone,” said Isabelle Goralsky. “In order to create something that could help solve an important problem you need a team of people with different perspectives that can clearly communicate their ideas.”
The second team of Cody Aung, Andre Baghdassarian, Noah Besina and Makayla Vicente pitched their idea called “CellShock,” a sheer, thickening fluid case to better protect valuable electronics like phones, laptops and medical devices.
“I am so grateful to have had such an amazing opportunity learning about the developmental process of making a product and creating a business,” said Noah Besina. “I had to learn to collaborate with a group of various talents in order to accomplish our goal. Nanovation has taught me life lessons that I will use for the rest of my life.”