Inspiring Young Inventors: The Young Scientist Challenge

I am always looking for ways to inspire and motivate my students, particularly when it comes to making “big changes” in our world.  So many of our students are constantly brainstorming, inventing, and problem solving in ways that have great potentials to make our world better.  I am so excited to share this AMAZING program that can provide a once in a lifetime opportunity for our young inventors to see their original ideas become realities, The Young Scientist Challenge by Discovery Education and 3M.

What is the Young Scientist Challenge?

Open to students in grades 5-8 only, The Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge is a unique project-based learning opportunity that gives students a chance to work one-on-one with a real 3M Scientist during an exclusive summer mentorship. To apply, students submit a 1-2 minute video describing a unique idea for a solution to an everyday problem.  Ten finalists are then selected to  participate in design challenges and work with experts to develop new skills. And the BEST part?! Students actually get to transform their original idea into a working prototype! They also present their prototypes and ideas to a panel of judges for a chance to win up $25,000 and earn the prestigious title of “America’s Top Young Scientist!”

The Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge is the nation’s premier science competition for grades 5-8. This one-of-a-kind competition has sparked a sense of wonder and discovery in hundreds of thousands of students and enhanced science, innovation and communication across the United States.

Registration is now open for 2018 and the deadline for submissions is Thursday, April 19.



Identify an everyday problem that directly impacts your family, community, or the global population. Create a solution. The solution must be a new innovation or idea, and cannot simply be a new use for an existing product.


The challenge is to create a 1-2 minute video that…

  • explains the problem. How does it impact you and your family, community or the global population? How does that make you feel and why are you inspired to fix the problem?
  • describes an idea for a new innovation or solution that could solve or impact the problem;
  • explains the science, technology, engineering and/or mathematics behind their innovation; and
  • illustrates how your innovation could both address the everyday problem you’ve identified and have a broader impact locally or globally.


Wondering why your students or children should apply?  Take a look at these amazing photos from last summer’s program!

All finalists have the opportunity to work one-on-one virtually with 3M Scientists – A mentoring experience that they’ll never forget!

Communication skills are key as finalists present their prototypes and ideas to a panel of judges.

Meet Gitanjali Rao, 2017 America’s Top Young Scientist and seventh grader from Lone Tree, Colorado. She created a prototype called “Tethys,” a Water Lead Contamination Detector that reduces the amount time it takes to detect lead in water by using a mobile app, to connect over Bluetooth to get status of water, almost immediately. Gitanjali says, “I would tell everyone who is interested in STEM to just have fun! Just have fun with science and keep digging deep for solutions. If you do not succeed the first time, that’s OK! There is never a limit to the number of tries it takes to accomplish a goal.”

As educators, we have several ways to encourage our students to apply for this incredible opportunity:

  1. Share information about the Young Scientist Challenge with your students’ parents via email.
  2. Implement the challenge in your 5th-8th grade classroom using the provided online resources and 4 week roadmap.
  3. Implement the challenge as an after-school program for selected groups of students using the resources found HERE.