I was nerdy as a kid — no surprise there — but had no idea that there was a bigger picture than my family and my school. Still, I never entered the local science fair (if there even was one, I don’t recall ever hearing about it even though I was in the honors program for junior high and high school) and kinda wish one of my kids was growing up to be a science nerd.
But it’s not to be, which is a drag because it turns out that more than just science fairs, there are some amazing events and competitions children can enter nowadays.
One of the premier events in this space is the Young Scientist Challenge, sponsored by both 3M and Discovery Education. Actually, the event’s properly called the Discovery 3M Young Scientist Challenge and it’s for children grades 5-8. And it’s really cool.
Students pick a topic to research from the published list, produce a two minute video with their proposed solution, then ten finalists are flown out to work with 3M scientists on their research. The winner receives $25,000 cash (perfect for that college fund) and all the finalists get national visibility in the media.
The list of topics this year includes: How We Communicate; How We Move; How We Stay Healthy and How We Make a Difference.
Intimidated by the video? Here are their tips on what needs to be included:
- explain the problem and how it impacts the entrant, their family, their community or the global population;
- describe a new innovation or solution that could solve or impact the problem;
- explain the science, technology, engineering and/or mathematics behind their innovation; and
- illustrate how their innovation could both address the everyday problem they’ve identified and have a broader impact locally or globally.
Honestly, I wish I was still in middle school so I could enter, and I’ll definitely work on my 8th grader to see if I can motivate him to give it a whirl. I mean, prizes include $1,000 for all ten finalists, a trip to Costa Rica for the top four young scientists, and 3M Innovation Prizes worth almost $300 each. Not bad for some serious brainstorming and a two minute video.
Learn much more, including how to inspire your own child and enter their video here before the April 22, 2014 deadline rolls around: Discovery 3M Young Scientist Challenge.