The Vision

It’s no secret that there is a STEM crisis, as both the number of science teachers with science degrees and the number of students choosing science is in decline.

In the Smart Science Initiative project, we’re developing intelligent courseware for year 9 and 10 (13-16 year olds) – a key stage in science education, as it precedes the biggest drop off in high school science enrolments.

The intelligent courseware contains adaptive and personalised learning experiences in science, with the purpose of helping to:

(a) build scientific literacy and skills in Australia;

(b) promote choosing science beyond Year 10 to create an unbroken pathway to tertiary studies;

(c) develop new learning assets for digitally-connected students, equally accessible to all students regardless of geographic isolation or socio-economic status; and

(d) provide new insights into how today’s students learn.

The experiences are centred around four exciting and active research areas: astrobiology and the search for extraterrestrial life; infectious disease and antibiotic resistance; our changing planet; and nanotechnology.

Funded by the Australian Maths and Science Partnerships Program, the Smart Science Initiative project began on September 1, 2013 and finished October 31, 2014. The learning experiences and evaluation were made available to any teacher interested in using them.

The project is a collaboration between the University of New South Wales, the University of Western Australia, Flinders University and Smart Sparrow. Arizona State University is an advisor on the project.

Contact us to find out how you can teach using this intelligent courseware.


Nano Design Lab

Step into the state-of-the-art Nano Design Lab, and build a nanosensor that can track down cancer cells, Salmonella or Cholera.

Flick through any cutting-edge science magazine and chances are you’ll come across the word nanotechnology, an exciting field of science that deals with matter as small as one billionth of a metre. It’s hard to imagine, but nanotechnologists are currently researching and building technologies at this tiny scale. And the future of science looks to be heading in this direction!

But how exactly is nanotechnology used in everyday life? How could it benefit us in the future? What makes matter different at the nanoscale? And exactly how small are we talking?

The team at Flinders University, led by Professor Martin Westwell and Professor Joe Shapter, with project officer Diana Pham, presents The Nano Design Lab, where students can explore the remarkable world of the minuscule.

This content focuses on the importance of science as a human endeavour.

In the major lesson, also called the Nano Design Lab, students will choose to assist a nanotechnologist by working on one of three different projects: detecting cancer cells in a blood sample, Cholera bacteria in a water sample, or Salmonella bacteria in a food sample. Here, they’ll learn about the motivations behind their chosen research project before being launched into the state-of-the-art virtual lab, where they have to design, build and evaluate their own nanosensor.

There are also four short mini-games to support the experience. These cover the nanoworld in more detail – with size and scale, nanoscale properties, hydrophobicity, and ethics.

If you are interested in using the Nano Design Lab, please contact us through the button below.




Nano Design Lab

Build a nanosensor that can track down cancer cells, Salmonella or Cholera. This lesson demonstrates the importance of science as a human endeavour, and how it has the potential to change people’s lives.

25 min more



Nanoscale Properties

Big things behave very differently to little things, especially when you zoom into the nanoscale. This mini-game demonstrates how gold isn’t exactly what you expect when it’s in the form of nanoparticles.

4 min more

Size and Scale

Exactly how small are we talking when it comes to the nanoscale? Here, students can zoom into different scales to see how small nanoscopic objects are relative to others, and see the smallest film in history (starring atoms!).

8 min more


Scientific developments often draw inspiration from nature, and nanotechnology is no exception. This mini-game looks at how hydrophobic objects, such as lotus leaves, inspired the development of hydrophobic surfaces in nanotechnology, and explores how this technology might be useful in our day-to-day lives.

5 min more


New inventions can be exciting, but they can’t be used unless we make sure they’re safe to use. This mini-game explains some of the processes that might be involved to test whether something is safe, and allows the students to make up their own minds about testing on animals.

4 min more


If you are interested in teaching with any of the content you’ve seen on the site, please fill in your details below and we will be in contact with you as soon as we can.

Thanks for your interest. We will be in contact with you soon.