The Process Behind Innovation

Six new stories debut in ‘Science of Innovation’ series:

National Science Foundation, NBC Learn and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office explore process behind innovation.

A new set of educational videos, released February 17th, 2016, continues an exploration begun three years ago into the creative process that leads to innovation. From 3-D bioprinting that could generate heart tissue to origami-inspired structures built for space exploration, the six new “Science of Innovation” stories highlight how innovation can turn fundamental science and engineering ideas into significant societal and economic impacts.

NBC Learn, the educational arm of the NBCUniversal News Group, produced the first set of “Science of Innovation” videos in 2013, in partnership with the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Each video aligns to state and national education standards. Lesson plans and activities will be available soon to help teachers engage students in the classroom and teach key concepts about innovation and STEM.

“We’re pleased to partner with the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to launch the next phase in NBC Learn’s ‘Science of Innovation’ series,” said Soraya Gage, vice president and general manager of NBC Learn. “These videos can inspire students to become inventors of the future whose ideas shape our society.”

The new “Science of Innovation” videos feature the inventions of six trailblazing scientists and engineers from around the country, including:

  • “3-D Bioprinting” — Adam Feinberg of Carnegie Mellon University has created a technique that expands the use of 3-D printing technology and could one day allow researchers to print heart tissue.
  • “Origami Structures” — Origami is the ancient Japanese art of paper folding. To engineer Mary Frecker of Pennsylvania State University, it is the future for designing tools that could be used in fields such as medicine and space exploration.
  • “Friction-Stir Welding” — Welding has long been used to join pieces of metal together. At the University of North Texas, Rajiv Mishra is using a form of welding in a new technology that can improve metal’s strength, toughness, and other properties. It could bring new opportunities to the automotive and aircraft industries.”Motion Controller for Virtual Reality” — William Provancher of Tactical Haptics has developed a device that combines the sense of touch with technology. Called the “reactive grip,” it allows the user to experience the virtual world in a whole new way.
  • “Micro-Fabrication for Cochlear Implants” — Angelique Johnson is the CEO of MEMStim, a company innovating how electrode arrays in cochlear implants are manufactured. Using automated micro-fabrication, instead of costly hand-made manufacturing, Johnson is able to lower the cost of production, allowing more people in need of implants to afford them.
  • “Using Viruses to Make Batteries” — While most people see viruses as harmful, MIT’s Angela Belcher sees the future of energy. Belcher uses viruses engineered in her laboratory to form nano-scale wires for tiny batteries that could eventually be used to produce a wide range of electronics at a lower cost.

-NSF (press release)

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