'Young Scientists' Take Home $100,000 in Scholarships, Prizes


Discovery Education late last month awarded more than $100,000 in prizes and scholarships as part of its 9th Annual Discovery Channel Young Scientist Challenge program. This year an 11-year-old, Erik Gustafson, Homer Intermediate School in Cortland, NY, took home the title of "America's Top Young Scientist," along with a $20,000 college scholarship. He was the youngest to date to win the top prize.

In all, 40 students from 22 states were named as finalists, competing for the top honor. California, FLorida, and Texas each tied for the highest number of finalists in the competition (five each). Finalists were selected based on essays written about science fair projects that they had presented this year. FInalists also presented their research to the pubic and to the judging panel.

Gustafson won the title based on a research project that tracked the pH level of a stream and the effect of rainfall in increasing the acidity of the water.

Second place went to Katherine Strube of Glendale, MO. Third place went to Ambrose Soehn of Boulder, CO. Other winners included:

  • Karl Sorensen (VA), who won the "Star Gazer" Prize;
  • Collin McAliley (FL), who won the "Planet Green" Prize;
  • Gokul Krishnan (IL), who won the "Build It Bigger" Prize;
  • Laurie Rumker (OR), who won the "Forensics Camp" Prize;
  • Prem Thottumkara (IL), who won the "Emerging Networks' U.S. Space and Rocket Center" Prize;
  • Darby Woodard (SC), who won the "Animals Everywhere" Prize; and
  • Rohit Kamat (TX), who won the "Discovery Commerce" Prize.

Some of the winners will also get to appear on an episode of Discovery's Mythbusters.

To date, the competition has awarded some $700,000 in prizes and scholarships. The competition is open to students in grades 5 through 8. Further information can be found at the links below.

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About the author: David Nagel is the executive editor for 1105 Media's online education technology publications, including THE Journal and Campus Technology. He can be reached at [email protected].

Proposals for articles and tips for news stories, as well as questions and comments about this publication, should be submitted to David Nagel, executive editor, at [email protected].

About the Author

David Nagel is the former editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal, STEAM Universe, and Spaces4Learning. A 30-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art, marketing, media, and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/davidrnagel/ .