Kids Solve Global Issues, Slay Science Challenge

June 28, 2017

I think it’s super cool that students have so many opportunities to dabble in a chosen career well before they can even legally vote. Recently, 3M and Discovery Education announced the 10 finalists for the 2017 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge. The challenge is open to students in grades 5-8 who developed innovations that solve global issues and improve lives.

I’m pretty sure when I was in grades 5-8 I wasn’t thinking about how to solve global issues. . . I was probably more concerned with solving my acne issues or deciding what colors to weave into my friendship bracelets. But for these 10 kids the future is much brighter.

Indeed, according to a press release from 3M, winners and finalists have gone on to receive patents, give TED talks, attend the White House Science Fair, and even make the Forbes 30 under 30.

To compete, students submitted short videos that communicate the science behind a possible solution to an everyday problem.

Each finalist will have the opportunity to work one-on-one with a 3M scientist during a summer mentorship program. Students meet virtually with their mentors, who provide guidance from the student's concept to actual prototype.

"At 3M, we have thrived for 115 years not just by adapting to the future, but by shaping it," says Jon Lindekugel, senior vice president, Business Development and Marketing-Sales, 3M. "These young scientists – with their thirst for discovery and their determination to make the world a better place – are that future, and it's our privilege to support them on their way."

One of the entries is from Anika Bhagavatula, Wilton, Conn. Anika came up with a novel method for oil spill cleanup using biomass. You can watch her video submission below.

Here are the other nine finalists:

  • Laalitya Acharya, Mason, Ohio, Mason Middle School, Mason City School District
  • Karina Andersen, Rocklin, Calif., Granite Oaks Middle School, Rocklin Unified School District
  • Rithvik Ganesh, Plano, Texas, C.M. Rice Middle School, Plano Independent School District
  • Simone Jacobs, Seattle, Wash., Washington Middle School, Seattle School District 1
  • Samu Shrestha, Highlands Ranch, Colo., Cresthill Middle School, Douglas County School District Re-1
  • Allie Weber, Sioux Falls, S.D., Edison Middle School, Sioux Falls School District 49-5
  • Devin Willis, Boca Raton, Fla., A.D. Henderson University School, Florida Atlantic University Schools
  • Austin Crouchley, Garden City, N.Y., Garden City Middle School, Garden City School District
  • Gitanjali Rao, Brentwood, Tenn., Brentwood Middle School, Williamson County School District

These finalists will compete for a top prize of $25,000 in October.

You can learn more about the challenge here.

Traci Purdum is Chemical Processing’s senior digital editor. In the fifth grade she got in trouble for defending her four-square game from a playground bully. To this day she stands behind her actions. You can email her at [email protected].