Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge

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The Young Scientist Challenge is a youth science and engineering competition administered by Discovery Education and 3M for middle school students in the United States, similar to the European Union Contest for Young Scientists. Students are challenged each year to create a 1-2 minute video detailing their idea for a new invention intended to solve a problem in one of three categories.[1]

Ten finalists are chosen annually to work alongside a 3M scientist during a summer mentorship and receive a trip to the 3M Innovation Center in St. Paul, MN to compete for $25,000 and the title of “America’s Top Young Scientist.” The entry period is open from December until April each year.

Selection Process[edit]

Challenge Judging[edit]

A panel of judges from Discovery Education and its partner organizations, educators and science professionals score qualifying Entry Videos. Judges review the video submissions and choose 10 finalists and up to 51 merit winners, one from each state and the District of Columbia, based on the following judging criteria:

  • Creativity (ingenuity and innovative thinking) (30%);
  • Scientific knowledge (30%);
  • Persuasiveness and effective communication (20%); and
  • Overall presentation (20%).

Students are required to address an everyday problem and articulate how the problem directly impacts them, their families, their communities, and/or the global population. The idea must be a new innovation or solution, and cannot be a behavioral change or a new use for an existing product. Judges also look for the level to which students’ videos exhibit an understanding of scientific concepts and confidence in communicating science in general.

The Final Event 10 finalists travel to 3M's headquarters in St. Paul, Minnesota each fall to participate in the Young Scientist Challenge Final Event. At the Final Event, the students visit 3M labs, meet with 3M scientists and tour the 3M Innovation Center. Finalists also participate in a series of other scored challenges to demonstrate their scientific knowledge and communication abilities. For their final challenge, the students present the innovation that they developed during their Summer Mentorship Program. Here the finalists are judged by a panel of judges selected by Discovery Education and its partner organizations according to the following guidelines:

  • Creativity (ingenuity and innovative thinking) demonstrated in the finalist's Innovation presentation (30%);
  • Scientific knowledge demonstrated in the finalist's Innovation presentation (20%);
  • Effective use of a 3M technology in the finalist's Innovation (10%); and
  • Finalist's ranking from the Final Event's scored scientific challenges (40%).

After the Final Event, participants attend an award ceremony and dinner, at which the winner of the title “America’s Top Young Scientist” is announced.[2]

Challenge Prizes[edit]

First Place

  • $25,000
  • A trip to Costa Rica (or similar destination)
  • A Contest Trophy
  • The title of "America's Top Young Scientist"

Three Runner-Up Prize Winners

  • A trip to Costa Rica (or similar destination)

Six Second Prize Winners

  • "Excitations" for a $500 excursion

Ten Finalists

  • $1,000
  • Participation in a unique summer mentorship with a 3M scientist
  • A trip to St. Paul, MN to compete in the Final Event
  • A chance to win amazing prize trips

Up to 51 Merit Winners (one from each State and the District of Columbia)

  • 3M Innovation Prize Packs[3]

History of the Young Scientist Challenge[edit]

Formerly known as The Discovery Channel Young Scientist Challenge (DCYSC), the Young Scientist challenge was created in 1999 as an engineering research and exhibit competition for students in grades 5 through 8.[4] It was sponsored primarily by Discovery Communications, Society for Science and the Public, and Elmer's Glue. Competitors were originally qualified for DCYSC by entering in an International Science and Engineering (ISEF) affiliated science fair and nominated by a teacher or professional.

The judging criteria challenged students to complete an application that included several essays. The essays were then evaluated for communication abilities by DCYSC judges who selected 400 semi-finalists. The judging panel also selected 40 finalists who received an all-expense-paid trip to Washington D.C. to compete in the final competition. The finals were composed of two parts. The first was a research presentation, accounting for 20% of the total score, held at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, the National Academy of Sciences, or another academic national association that varied from year to year. The second part was a series of six science-related challenges that took place at the National Institutes of Health or the University of Maryland. Each challenge was concluded with some type of presentation (e.g., a radio show, a TV show, or a news conference) worth 10% of the students' total score. Students also presented a simple science experiment, known as a Whelmer, in front of cameras for 15% of their score. The remaining 5% came from teamwork, as the finalists were split into eight colored teams consisting of five members each for the science challenges.

In 2008 the contest was changed to the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge. Students no longer have to be nominated and now submit a 1-2 minute video clip as their form of entry.

Past Challenge Themes[edit]

Since 2003, themes for the Young Scientist Challenge have followed scientific curiosities and been built on the activities and innovations around them.

  • In 2003, the activities were based on the 100th anniversary of the first flight of the Wright Brothers, December 17, 1903, and included a reproduction of the Wright Brother’s 1901 wind tunnel and lift balance which allowed contestants to test various wing designs for lift, and rocket propelled go carts which were powered by compressed carbon dioxide gas.
  • In 2004, the activities were based on the 100th anniversary of Einstein's Theory of Relativity.
  • In 2005, inspired by the events of Hurricane Katrina and the Indonesian tsunami, the activities were about understanding natural disasters and included a 20’ tall vortex (tornado) generator, a 40’ tsunami wave tank simulator, and procedures to safely dispose of biological waste after a natural disaster.
  • In 2006, the activities were based on the theme "Disease Detectives" due to the H5N1 avian influenza scare. Contestants participated in virtual colonoscopy screening, mold identification and remediation, and avian flu containment using herd immunity models.
  • In 2008, the activities centered on NASA-themed challenges. Finalists had the opportunity to work in a 1/6th gravity simulation, attempt a repair to the Hubble Telescope, and look for water on Mars. They also had the chance to meet and work with NASA's scientists
  • In 2009, the finalists went through four rounds of challenges based on the theme “The Science of Everyday Life.”
  • In 2010, activities focused on the critical areas of everyday life involving ways to keep humans safe. Contestants were judged on their knowledge of science and their ability to apply it to areas of safety and security.
  • The 2013 Young Scientist Challenge asked students to create a 1-2 minute video describing a new innovation or solution that could solve or impact an everyday problem related to how people, their families, their communities, and/or the global population live, work or play.[5]

List of Finalists[edit]

2016 Finalists[edit]

This years contenders competed for a 25,000 top prize and a trip to 3M Innovation Center in St. Paul, Minnesota (USA)[6]

  • Meghna Behari: Pennsylvania
  • Amelia Day: Washington State
  • Mrinali Kesavadas: Illinois
  • Sara Makboul: Georgia
  • Maanasa Mendu: Ohio -- Winner
    • Maanasa went on to be named in the Forbes 30 under 30 list.[7]
  • Rohit Mital: Michigan
  • Will Paschal: Georgia
  • Sofia Tomov: Tennessee[8]
  • Rohan Wagh: Oregon
  • Kaien Yang: Virginia

2015 Finalists[edit]

  • Peter Finch: Rhode Island
  • Arthur Frigo, III: Florida
  • Raghav Ganesh: California
  • Amulya Garimella: Pennsylvania
  • Iris Gupta: Maryland
  • Hannah Herbst: Florida
  • Alec Lessing: New York
  • Connor Pettit: Colorado
  • Krishna Reddy: Texas
  • Sanjana Shah: California

2014 Finalists[9][edit]

  • Ana Humphrey: Virginia
  • Andrew Masek: Massachusetts
  • Anthony Kim: California
  • Christopher Isozaki: California
  • David Cohen: Texas
  • Jai Kumar: Virginia
  • Katherine Wu: Maryland
  • Mythri Ambatipudi: California
  • Nikita Rafikov: Georgia
  • Sahil Doshi: Pennsylvania - Winner!

2013 Finalists[10][edit]

  • Aishani Sil: Texas
  • Brooke Martin: Washington
  • Daniel Culver: Colorado
  • Edward Kim: Texas
  • Katie Hudek: Massachusetts
  • Maureen Botros: Kansas
  • Peyton Robertson: Florida - Winner!
  • Srijay Kasturi: Virginia
  • Timmy DeMember: Maryland
  • Anish Chaluvadi: South Carolina

2012 Finalists[11][edit]

  • Deepika Kurup: New Hampshire – Winner![12]
  • Anin Sayana: California
  • Gabriel Mesa: Connecticut
  • Patrick Shea: Illinois
  • Carolyn Jons: Minnesota
  • Brandon Gong: New York
  • Aidan Dwyer: New York
  • Chase Lewis: North Carolina
  • Naren Gaurav: Oregon
  • Anishaa Sivakumar: Pennsylvania

2011 Finalists[13][edit]

  • Nolan Lenard: Alabama
  • Albert Tung: California
  • Braeden Benedict: California – Winner!
  • Divya Ravinder: Florida
  • Austin Curtis: Indiana
  • John Holtgrewe: Kentucky
  • Jack Andraka: Maryland
  • Cheyenne Hua: New York
  • Shayan Farmand: Pennsylvania
  • Caroline Boschetto: Pennsylvania

2010 Finalists[14][edit]

  • Riya Chandra: California
  • Liam O'Brien: Connecticut
  • Sehee Kim: Georgia
  • Matthew Shimura: Hawaii
  • Raj Raina: Michigan
  • Christopher Riedman: North Dakota
  • Kai Klocke: Oregon
  • Sydney Clark: Texas: Oregon
  • Alexander Mataloni: Virginia
  • Liam McCarty: Wisconsin – Winner!

2009 Finalists[15][edit]

  • Nate Bloom: Colorado
  • Jason Liu: Delaware
  • Nicholas LaJoie: Maine
  • Marina Dimitrov: Montana – Winner!
  • Nico Seamons: New Mexico
  • Devin Dwyer: New York
  • Nikita Gaurav: Oregon
  • Claire Sheen: Pennsylvania
  • Hugh Finch: Rhode Island
  • Emily Grover: Utah

2008 Finalists[16][edit]

  • Megan Gleason: Arizona
  • Shyamal Buch: California
  • Mathew McGuthry: Georgia
  • Jack Uesugi: Hawaii
  • Avni Bavishi: Illinois
  • Margaret Botros: Kansas
  • James Kruse: Minnesota
  • Melissa Rey: Missouri – Winner!
  • Peter Ku: New Jersey
  • Michael Koehler: Pennsylvania


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Judging". Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge. Retrieved 15 October 2014. 
  3. ^ "Prizes". Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge. Retrieved 15 October 2014. 
  4. ^ N O'Leary, S. Shelly - The Complete Idiot's Guide to Science Fair Projects - Page 9
  5. ^
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ [2]
  8. ^ [3]
  9. ^ "Discovery Education and 3M Announce 2014 Science Competition Winner". Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge. Retrieved 15 October 2014. 
  10. ^ "Contest Archives 2013". Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge. Retrieved 15 October 2014. 
  11. ^ "Contest Archives 2012". Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge. Retrieved 15 October 2014. 
  12. ^ A STEM Girl's Opportunities: From Science to the White House
  13. ^ "Contest Archives 2011". Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge. Retrieved 15 October 2014. 
  14. ^ "Contest Archives 2010". Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge. Retrieved 15 October 2014. 
  15. ^ "Contest Archives 2009". Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge. Retrieved 15 October 2014. 
  16. ^ "Contest Archives 2008". Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge. Retrieved 15 October 2014. 

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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