A dad friend encouraged me to sign my daughter up for an afterschool elementary school class called Wicked Cool Science. He was a high school science teacher and had a son and daughter of his own.
“If you don’t get your daughter’s interested in science before middle school,” he warned, “They will turn their backs on science permanently.”
That’s alarming. So I looked into this connection.
Many young students, particularly girls, see math and science as difficult, and don’t take any more classes than they have to, not realizing they are cutting themselves off from lucrative opportunities in college and careers.
“The relationship between confidence and interest is close,” says Fouad. “If they feel they can do it, it feeds their interest.”
From Science Daily
But how to teach kids — especially girls — that science and engineering is an amazing outlet for creativity and innovation?! How do you ignite not just interest, but passion?
I think the answer might be in self discovery … and the path to that might be a science competition. Oh sure, the initial hook might be this gigantic prize of $25,000 which can buy the winner a car, but the road to a possible car might also be a journey that they happily embark on for a lifetime.
Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge hosts a premier science competition for middle school students. They are also concerned about tween/teen students’ interests waning in science as the push and pull of middle school life throws a constant stream of curveballs. Kids are in the midst of trying out different identities in the search to find themselves and that science with its implication of nerdiness might not be at the top of the list.
So they’ve sweetened the pot:
- The winner will receive $25,000 and the title of “America’s Top Young Scientist.”
- The ten finalists will get help from a 3M scientist through a summer mentorship program to work on their ideas.
- The ten finalists will all receive expense-paid trips to Minneapolis to present their innovations.
And did you know?
- Past winners have gone on to meet the President of the United States, participate in the White House Science Fair, and pursue academic careers in the sciences!
They’ve also made it fun to apply. Middle school students create a short video (one to two minutes) about their project. They just need to identify an everyday problem, come up with a possible solution, and talk about the science behind that solution. That’s not so bad, right?
Based on the videos, ten finalists will be selected to work with an actual 3M scientist during a summer mentorship program. The results will be presented to a panel of judges for the final presentation in St. Paul, Minneapolis in October. For some kids, a trip to Minneapolis might also be a draw!
Discovery Education and 3M have named 11-year-old Peyton Robertson from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. winner of the 2013 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge for his innovative sandbag design.
Do you find that your kids need to be encouraged to find science and math exciting? Mine do. But there are enough facets to this science competition that will entice them to at least think about the possibilities… It could be a problem they think of that they want to solve. It could be the possibility of a new car when they one day learn to drive. Or it could be that $25,000! That would buy a lot of stuff!
I hope you will show your kids the video and see if they might want to shoot a short video off their smart phones. There’s nothing to lose and whole lot to gain! Best of luck to all the kids who throw their hat into the ring!!
3M is the recognized world leader in innovation. Discovery Education is a leading provider of curriculum-based digital content for the classroom. You can find them on Twitter @DE3MYSC and Facebook. I am proud to be part of the 2014 Blog Ambassador program for Discovery Education and 3M.