Every time I hear about science and math, it’s something about how we have a crisis, about how girls aren’t encouraged to embrace so-called “STEM” courses, about how other countries are in the lead, about the “brain drain”, etc.
Fortunately there are a lot of really bright kids who are already doing great science and helping lead us into the future. It’s a great thing to celebrate their accomplishments and use them to motivate other children to pursue science too because, as every parent knows, a role model is far more effective for motivation than complaints of doom and gloom. Carrots, not sticks. You know what I mean!
I see this challenge first hand with my children: while I’m a big science and technology promoter and their Mom has a strong background in natural sciences (think pre-med), none of our three children seem to have the passion to be a young scientist. Their enthusiasms lie elsewhere and as two of ’em are already teens, I’m not going to be able to fire up their zeal if it’s just not an area they’re drawn to. Que sera, sera.
Whether it’s in my house or not, however, we absolutely need to encourage, to celebrate children who do great things, who have brilliant inventions and who strive and seek to accomplish greatness, whether they are the next Tesla or Einstein or not. If your child’s a mad scientist, that’s awesome! Celebrate this!
That’s exactly why this is the second year in a row that I’m helping promote the great 3M Young Scientist Challenge. Last year the grand prize winner — who won $25,000 cash, a helpful contribution to his future college expenses — was Wisconsin resident Sahil Doshi, whose invention is the “PolluCell” that converts carbon dioxide into electricity.
Here he is, showing off his PolluCell:
As you can see, he doesn’t have thousands of dollars of gear on his table, he just had passion and a really, really good idea. And that’s all it takes to win the Young Scientist Challenge.
The ten middle school finalists in the 2014 Young Scientist Challenge were from all over the USA:
• Mythri Ambatipudi, San Jose, Calif., Stratford Middle School
• David Cohen, Dallas, Texas, Akiba Academy of Dallas
• Sahil Doshi, Pittsburgh, Pa., Fort Couch Middle School
• Ana Humphrey, Alexandria, Va., George Washington Middle School
• Christopher Isozaki, Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., St. John Fisher School
• Anthony Kim, Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., Ridgecrest Intermediate School
• Jai Kumar, South Riding, Va., J. Michael Lunsford Middle School
• Andrew Masek, North Attleborough, Mass., North Attleborough Middle School
• Nikita Rafikov, Evans, Ga., Riverside Middle School
• Katherine Wu, North Potomac, Md., Takoma Park Middle School
Each finalist then worked directly with a scientist from 3M on their project, as the challenge Web site explains: “Each finalist has an exclusive opportunity to work directly with a 3M Scientist during a unique summer mentorship program, where they will be challenged to create an invention that solves a problem in society … Students will then present their inventions during the competition’s final event at the 3M Innovation Center in St. Paul, Minn. October 13th and 14th. Throughout the program, each student has access to resources and support provided by 3M and Discovery Education.”
To enter, your young scientist needs to make a short video and upload it to their site by April 21, 2015. But they’ll need to start by having you parents fill a consent form – no surprises! – so the best place to start is on the How to Enter page. Check it out!