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Many of the greatest innovations of our time were first designed to solve a simple problem. This year’s Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge encourages young people to solve everyday problems using science and innovation. When you are working in the field of science, the opportunities for innovation are endless!  Your innovative ideas just may revolutionize the way we live.


Entrants should identify an everyday problem that directly impacts them, their family, their community, or the global population. The idea must be a new innovation or solution, and cannot simply be a new use for an existing product.


The challenge is to create a one- to two- minute video that…

  • explains the problem and how it impacts the entrant, their family, their community or the global population;
  • describes 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 their innovation could both address the everyday problem they’ve identified and have a broader impact locally or globally.


The following ideas are thought-starters to help students identify a problem and think about a creative solution. Students are encouraged to consider one of these topics or come up with their own ideas!

How We Communicate.

Communication is the cornerstone of modern life.  The way we “stay connected” to each other is constantly changing and changing the way we live.

What kinds of technologies, innovations, or solutions might:

  • Expand communications into remote areas?
  • Support communication between people with different languages and cultures?
  • Aid communication for people with hearing/visual impairments or other physical challenges?
  • Help people respond to emergencies?

Related videos from past finalists:

How We Move.

Millions of people around the globe are moving everyday—walking, biking, driving, taking the bus or ferry, or traveling on horseback.  Engineering and technology can help us move more efficiently.

What kinds of technologies, innovations, or solutions might:

  • Help reduce traffic accidents or jams?
  • Upgrade the efficiency, comfort, or safety of automobiles?
  • Make air, bus, or rail travel safer or more cost-effective?
  • Promote the use of bicycles or walking?

Related videos from past finalists:

How We Stay Healthy.

From the ball field, to the kitchen, to the classroom, ensuring the health and safety of ourselves and others is paramount. 

What kinds of technologies, innovations, or solutions might:

  • Ensure clean drinking water for all people across the world?
  • Provide healthy foods to all communities?
  • Detect and alert people of the onset of health problems?
  • Promote accessibility or safety in sports?

Related videos from past finalists:

How We Make a Difference.

Science touches every part of our lives.  In times of need, we can look to science to solve problems and offer relief.

What kinds of technologies, innovations, or solutions might:

  • Provide shelter, food and water, or first aid to people in the event of an emergency?
  • Improve our ability to predict or plan for natural disasters?
  • Reduce the environmental impacts of energy production?
  • Provide remediation of polluted habitats?

Related videos from past finalists:

Entries will be scored using the following judging criteria:

  • Creativity (ingenuity and innovative thinking) (30%);
  • Scientific knowledge (30%);
  • Persuasiveness and effective communication (20%); and
  • Overall presentation (20%).


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