Student Competitions

15-Year-Old Florida Girl Wins Young Scientist Challenge

Hannah Herbst, a 15-year-old grade 9 student from Florida Atlantic University High School, has been awarded the title of "America's Top Young Scientist" and a cash prize of $25,000 for winning the 2015 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge.

The contest, which launched in December 2014, challenged students in grades 5-8 to create a short video describing a new, innovative solution to an everyday problem affecting themselves, their family, their community or the global population. In June 2015, a panel of judges selected 10 finalists. Each finalist was paired with a 3M scientist for a three-month summer mentorship program, during which time the students developed their ideas from a theoretical concept to a working prototype under the virtual guidance of their scientist mentor and with resources and support from Discovery Education and 3M. On October 13, they presented their completed inventions to a panel of judges at the final competition held at the 3M Innovation Center in St. Paul, MN.

Hannah Herbst won the top prize for her invention of an "energy probe prototype that seeks to offer a stable power source to developing countries by using untapped energy from ocean currents," according to a news release from 3M and Discovery Education. Herbst has a 9-year-old pen pal in Ethiopia who lacks a reliable source of power, and Herbst's contest entry idea was inspired by a desire to help her friend.

The second, third and fourth place winners each received $1,000 and a student adventure trip to a destination such as Costa Rica, and the fifth through tenth place winners each received $1,000 and a $500 gift card from Discovery Experiences.

Winners of the second, third and fourth place prizes were:

  • Raghav Ganesh, a grade 8 student from Joaquin Miller Middle School in San Jose, CA, who developed a device to monitor physiological and environmental factors that can trigger stress in people with Autistic Spectrum Disorder;
  • Amulya Garimella, a grade 7 student from Dorseyville Middle School in Pittsburgh, PA, who developed a distraction-monitoring prototype that alerts the user of distraction by measuring EEG brainwaves; and
  • Iris Gupta, a grade 7 student from Robert Frost Middle School in North Potomac, MD, who developed an innovation that seeks to stop allergies at the source through inhaling or injecting nanoparticles that block allergy-triggering particles.

Further information about the 2015 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge can be found on the Young Scientist Challenge site.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at

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