The yellow team's Catherine Soto works on a solution to "The Hot and Cold of It," while Muhammad Abu-Rmaileh, Josh Hammer and Chris Mowers look on at the 2007 Discovery Education and 3M Young Scientist Challenge at the University of Maryland.

Discovery Communications, 2007

The Young Scientist Challenge from the Beginning

The challenge began in 1999 after Discovery Communications noticed the waning interest in science. After reading the studies about middle school children, it wanted to do something to make it exciting, so the company created a contest in the hopes of making science fun. Since the competition began, countless students have competed for a nomination to participate in the challenge, with just 51 of those winning that nomination each year. From there, only 10 students secure a place in the finals and win an all-expense paid trip to the competition [source: Discovery Education].

If you want to be the 10th Young Scientist, crack open your computer and bust out your video camera. If you're in the fifth through the eighth grades, you can register at Discovery Education. Once registration has been completed and accepted, it's time to get creative.

Each year the judges (whom we'll talk about later) choose a theme for the challenge. They can be huge topics, but don't let that scare you. Along with the theme, the judges also release topics for students to focus on. This helps to keep everything fair -- and not overwhelming.

Once you pick your topic, it's time to start writing, but you'll need to write a script instead of an essay. Students are required to submit a video showing off their knowledge of their topic of choice. But think twice before you hire actors or a director. Videos will be accepted only if the student is the only one in the video and if the video is obviously done by the student. "Producing" isn't allowed.

Team Grey members Matthew Mooney, Shubha Raghvendra, Morgan Monroe, Benjamin Song and Kyrillos Tawadros pose with a DCYSC ice sculpture after completing the "Water, Water Everywhere" challenge at the University of Maryland's Greenhouse Facility at the 2007 Discovery Education and 3M Young Scientist Challenge.

Discovery Communications, 2007

You better keep it short and sweet, too. Video submissions have to be longer than 60 seconds but can't exceed 120 seconds. In those two minutes, the judges will be looking for creativity, relevance, persuasiveness, classroom suitability and overall presentation. Once your video is ready to go, upload it to the Web site and sit tight. Discovery will alert you of the winners sometime over the summer. But you're not in the clear yet. Of the 51 winners (one from each state and the District of Columbia), only 10 will be officially invited to attend the challenge.

So who are these judges we keep talking about? And most importantly, what does the winner get? See the next section to find out.