When someone tells me that kids lose interest in science around their middle school years, my 6th grade science fair comes to mind. I designed an experiment to test whether dilution was an effective solution to managing water pollution. In essence, I was asking whether it was enough to allow the Earth’s waterways to do the work of waste management allowing for dumping of liquid waste. Twenty years later, that remains a defining experience for me. Yes, I won an award for best environmental project. Yes, it was my first sign of being profficient in experimental design. More than anything, though, it was my turn to be a problem solver. I was trying to solve a problem that impacted people the world over, and I was casting my input in the conversation. That is the power of the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge: sparking the fire before it fades.
The Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge seeks to reach students in those crucial middle school years. The challenge is more than a contest, it is a chance for students to be scientists: to research scientific methods and concepts, and to use those concepts to solve problems. To enter, students have to get creative in communicating their findings. Their medium for creativity is a 1-2 minute video that communicates a scientific concept applied to solve an everyday problem. Students, in 5th to 8th grade, have until April 21st, 2015 to submit their videos here.
The Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge is different from other science challenges in a HUGE way. Ten finalists from all over the United States will be selected to compete for the top prize. Those ten finalists will each be paired with 3M scientist who will mentor and guide the finalists as they create an innovation to be presented to a panel of judges. The winner will receive $25,000 in prize money and the title of “America’s Top Young Scientist.” By the looks of it, any child who enters is a winner!!!
Remember, submissions are due by April 21st. Top ten finalists will be selected in June and July 2015 and the final competition will be held at the 3M Innovation Center in October 2015.
Discovery Education and 3M have hit the mark with this challenge. In the same way that my 6th grade science project was a major steppingstone in my becoming a scientist, this challenge is sure to spark something in these young minds. It already has been impactful for some; previous winners have gone on to work with some of the top scientists in the country!
TOMORROW March 5, 2015 from 9pm-10pm EST, I will join a special #STEMchat panel along other parents, educators and STEM professionals! Join us as we discuss ideas and resources for the exploration of science in everyday life! I’ll be tweeting from @thepurplepage. Follow @STEMchat, too!