Screenshot from "Nano Startup" game
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Original STEM Game:

Nano Start Up

Grades 5-8

Help Dr. Jessica Winter and her business partner Kristie start a company for a new nanoparticle!

Download the Crash Scene Investigation Worksheet.

  • Angel Investors
    • Someone who provides financial support for small new businesses or entrepreneurs. Angel investors are usually family and friends.
  • Antibodies
    • Complex, Y-shaped protein molecules that target particular cells or aspects of cells.
  • Biopsies
    • Samples of tissue sent to a lab so a pathologist or other medical expert can examine them.
  • Budget
    • An estimate of income and expenses for a particular period of time.
  • Competition
    • Any rivals striving for the same goal, such as in a sporting event, or in business where rivals compete for the same customers or markets.
  • Cross Linkers
    • The ‘glue’ that holds things together at the nanoparticle level. In this case, the cross linkers hold the antibodies on the nanoparticles, or multi-dots.
  • Expenses
    • Goods or services a business must pay for. The opposite of income.
  • Fundraising
    • The organized, thoughtful way of asking for money for a particular event, business or charity.
  • Grants
    • The act of giving something. In this case, the granting agency is giving money to support the start up business. Grants typically do not have to be repaid, while loans and investors usually do have to be repaid.
  • Income
    • Money generated by selling goods or services. The opposite of expenses.
  • Market
    • The buyers and sellers of a particular good or service in a particular area or industry. In this case, the ‘market’ for Jessica’s invention was hospitals and doctors.
  • Marketing
    • Identifying and appealing to particular consumers who might purchase your product. This includes advertising, developing a brand, pricing and selling the product.
  • Milestones
    • An action or event marking a particular stage of development or step toward the finished product.
  • Multi-dot
    • A nanoparticle or quantum dot with certain specified properties. See ‘nanoparticle’ below.
  • Nanoengineer
    • An engineer that works with nanoparticles (did you think it was a really tiny engineer?)
  • Nanolab
    • A lab in which the engineering of nanoparticles takes place. This is often, but not always a clean room.
  • Nanometer
    • One billionth of a meter. A human hair is about one hundred thousand nanometers in diameter.
  • Nanoparticle/Nano Particle
    • A particle on the nanoscale, or a particle that is roughly one hundred thousandth the width of a human hair. Nanoparticles can be used to:
      • mark cancer cells or genetic abnormalities
      • deliver chemotherapy directly to cancer cells
      • make fabric bacteria (and therefore smell-resistant) or stain resistant
      • create a ‘skin’ on prosthetics that is self-healing
      • clean certain pollutants from ground water
      • increase battery life and power, among just a few things these amazing inventions can do!
  • Nanoscale
    • The scale of a nanometer or nanoparticle.
  • Nanotechnology
    • Technology that deals with things less than 100 nanometers in size.
  • Operating Expenses
    • Those expenses that a business has that are not directly associated with the production of goods or services, for example paper for the copier (assuming the business is not a copy shop), office supplies, cleaning supplies, etc.
  • Overhead
    • The same as operating expenses. Expenses that cannot conveniently be associated with production of goods or services that are the company’s main business.
  • Patent
    • A license that gives the patent holder the sole right to exclude others from making, using, or selling an invention.
  • Percentage
    • Part of share of a whole.
  • Point-of-Care Diagnostics
    • Medical tests performed while the patient waits, like a blood sugar test for a diabetic patient or a throat swab for a suspected strep throat patient.
  • Profit
    • The difference between the amount earned (income) and the amount of expenses (goods or services purchased)
  • Proportions
    • Part or number considered in relation to the whole.
  • Raw Materials
    • The basic substances from which a product is made.
  • Revenue
    • The amount of money a business receives during a set period of time.
  • Proportions
    • Part or number considered in relation to the whole.
  • Shelf Life
    • The length of time a product remains useable or saleable.
  • Timeline
    • A linear image of important events in the order in which they occurred or should occur.

Project Production and Development

Jessica Winter, Nano Engineer
Thanks to Jessica for writing grants and helping us out during a stressful time in her life!

Kristie Melnik, Chief Operating Officer

Project Director:
Gail Wheatley

  • Research
  • Script Writing
  • Activity Ideas & Concepts


Sarah Small


New Albany City Schools
Peter Barnes – New Albany Middle School
Dublin City Schools
Andrea Williams – Karrer Middle School

This activity is dedicated to Sarah Small and Jen Cassidy, who worked long hours without pay to keep Edheads running through a particularly difficult time. You can’t ask for better human beings or better coworkers!!

Game Screenshots