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My Experience as a YSC Judge: Julian Barnes

Last October, Julian Barnes, Science Coordinator for the Roanoke County Public Schools, traveled to St. Paul, MN to watch as 10 national finalists shared their innovative ideas to change the world. Hear what he had to say about his experience: 

On October 8, 2013, 10 middle school students from around the country delivered a presentation in front of a live web audience, about the research project that they had been working on, with 3M scientist mentors, for the past 6 months. This was the culmination of a two day gathering that tested the students’ ability to work in groups (that included taking and giving advice/criticism), as well as communicate their ideas and findings.

The Discovery Education/3M Young Scientist Challenge was held in St. Paul Minnesota at the 3M Innovation center which is a showcase of the lifeblood of 3M. This facility with its design to foster innovation and generous room allowed the students to work on challenges separate from their research and gave them the opportunity to collaborate with fellow students and research scientist from 3M.

I had the opportunity to attend and to serve as a judge of these students in their various challenges, and was impressed through and through! Our hosts, Discovery Education and 3M, were very generous and gave every support imaginable to the judging process. 3M’s innovation center was an absolutely amazing facility filled with approachable scientists that were as excited to share what their work entailed as we were to see it. The students were such a great group of youngsters that I just grin when I think about their excitement, curiosity, and desire to dig and ask questions. It truly was an honor to be in the midst of these students and in them I have complete faith in the brightness of our future. My fellow judges were an impressive and professional group that I was humbled to serve with. They came from across the country with varied backgrounds and a love for science as well as a willingness to give of their time and energy in a most professional manner to assist in this event.

The Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge is an innovative competition that gets at the heart of what the modern scientist is. I would encourage you to research this competition at and encourage your students to follow their questions and perhaps they too can have their day to explain their research in front of a live web audience. 

--Julian Barnes, 2013 Young Scientist Challenge Judge

Learn more about Julian at

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