Free Games Get Kids Into Nanotech

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If the computer games kids play are responsible for shaping their career choices, we may be in trouble, since that probably means that in 20 years we’re going to be a nation of race car drivers, space marines and criminals. Oh, and possibly nanotech researchers. The Oregon nanotech company FEI has launched a set of series of free NanoMission games that aim to get Junior into science and technology through gaming.

London-based Playgen developed three games for the series. The first game, NanoScaling, introduces children to the concept of scale, and helps them wrap their minds around the difference in size between something like the sun and something like a hydrogen atom. The second game, NanoImaging, sends players on a mission to destroy harmful microorganisms in lakes and streams using a scanning electron microscope. Third, NanoMedicine challenges players to destroy cancer cells in the human body without damaging healthy tissue.

As the oft-cited statistics go, interest in careers in science and technology among schoolchildren has been waning in the United States and Western Europe lately. Many experts are concerned about what this bodes for the future. “The falling numbers of science and engineering students in western Europe and the United States will have a real economic impact in an increasingly technology dependent society,” said Tim Harper, director of the nanotech association Cientifica and project advisor to the game series. “It is vitally important that the technology community supports projects such as NanoMission to ensure that our economies remain competitive in the 21st century.”

All three games are currently available to download for free from FEI’s Web site.

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