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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 Manufacture

From automobiles to your kitchen sink, manufacturing is essential to making every day life run more efficiently.

What kinds of technologies, innovations, or solutions might:

How We Provide Energy

Energy is the key to keeping the world working and one of the most fundamental parts of our daily lives.

What kinds of technologies, innovations, or solutions might:

  • Help plants grow in dry climates?
  • Provide electricity to underdeveloped countries?
  • Make transportation easier without automation?
  • Help limit the amount of fossil fuels in the environment?
  • Find ways to help people reduce their environmental footprint?
  • Reuse energy in creative ways?

How We Stay Safe

Whether you’re on the sports field or crossing the street, safety should always come first.

What kinds of technologies, innovations, or solutions might:

  • Detect and alert people of the likelihood of an accident happening?
  • Protect people from workplace dangers?
  • Make it safer to travel during bad weather?
  • Prevent a sports related injury from happening?
  • Create ways to reduce the risk of accidents?

How We Stay Healthy

Living a healthy lifestyle and ensuring the health of others is crucial to having long and productive lives.

What kinds of technologies, innovations, or solutions might:

  • Provide healthy foods to all communities?
  • Detect and alert people of the onset of health problems?
  • Make healthcare products available to underdeveloped communities?
  • Perform diagnostics without the use of modern technology?

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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