Blue team members Erik Gustafson and Samantha Gonzalez explain their ideas to their team and the judges in the "Water, Water, Everywhere" challenge at the University of Maryland at the 2007 Discovery Education and 3M Young Scientist Challenge.

Discovery Communications, 2007

The Finals of the Young Scientist Challenge

Steven Jacobs is an accomplished scientist, teacher and author with more than two decades of experience and three advanced degrees. He's also the head judge for the Discovery Education and 3M Young Scientist Challenge. Judge Jake, as the contestants refer to him, is accompanied on the judge's panel by a mixture of historians, producers, physicians, marine biologists and other scientists. As we mentioned in the previous section, the judges determine the theme and the topics, as well as watch all of the video submissions and narrow the contestants down to 10.

Over the course of the final competition, the contestants will face a series of challenges laid out by the judges. What kind of challenges, you ask? No one will know until the competition begins. It's top secret. Some past challenges have included building greenhouses to seal off CO2 and investigating serious health concerns. The only hint the contestants get is that all of the challenges will revolve around the theme.

The challenges are designed to highlight a student's leadership, teamwork, problem-solving skills and communication. At the end of the competition one student will stand out against the finalists, and he or she will be named America's Top Young Scientist of the Year. And while the title's nice, let's get to the prizes.

The 2007 winners of the Discovery Education and 3M Young Scientist Challenge: Katherine Strube (2nd place), Erik Gustafson (1st place), and Ambrose Soehn (3rd place)

Discovery Communications, 2007

The winner is not the only one who gets awards. Each of the 51 semifinalists will get $250, along with a certificate and T-shirt. The 10 finalists will get these things, as well as a paid trip to the competition, $1,000 and a medal. But this is nothing compared to what the grand prize winner gets: all of the above items, plus $50,000 inU.S. Savings Bonds, a trophy and bragging rights for being the smartest kid on the block.

For more information on the Discovery Education and 3M Young Scientist Challenge, all things science and related topics, see the links on the next page. The information in the next section could also help you with research for your very own entrance video.