STEM & STEAM Education
2021 Young Scientist Challenge Winners Named
- By Dian Schaffhauser
intelligence and machine learning figured into this year's top two
entries for the 3M
Young Scientist Challenge, a middle school science
competition sponsored by 3M
Ten finalists were
selected from one- to two-minute video submissions in which they
described a new invention or solution that could solve or influence
an everyday problem affecting them, their families, their communities
or the world. This year's challenge brought the finalists together
virtually over two days. Each competitor was evaluated in a series of
scored challenges and the final presentation of their innovation.
They were assessed, according to organizers, on their "innovative
thinking, scientific acumen and exceptional communication skills."
Over the past
several months, finalists also worked with a 3M scientist who
mentored and worked one-on-one with them to help them turn their
ideas into prototypes. Sarah, for example, was paired with Ann
Fornof, a senior research specialist in the adhesives division at 3M.
Top winner Sarah
Park, now an eighth-grader in Jacksonville, FL, developed Spark
Care+, a music therapy treatment for mental health
disorders that uses AI, galvanic skin response (GSR) for sweat gland
response, and photoplethysmography (PPG) for heart rate monitoring.
Sarah said she envisions the development of personalized wristbands
with her invention for use by anyone seeking improved mental health.
As the grand prize
winner, Sarah received $25,000, a two-day trip and the title
"America’s Top Young Scientist."
Samarth Mahapatra from Marietta, GA took second place and was also
named winner of the "Improving Lives Award," chosen through
public voting as the solution with the greatest potential to make a
positive impact on the world. Samarth’s project, "Accessibility
Friendly Guidance System for Optimal Cooking Operations based on
Machine Learning," was inspired by a family member who had to
give up cooking due to glaucoma-induced blindness. The project uses
advance vision algorithms to help people with vision limitations
"cook with ease."
"The 3M Young
Scientist Challenge aligns with 3M’s commitment to fostering the
next generation of science leaders and exemplifies how a quality STEM
education can get young people interested and excited about science
as a way to improve lives all around the world," said Denise
Rutherford, chief corporate affairs officer at 3M, in a statement.
"Against the backdrop of an ongoing global pandemic, the...
finalists have each shown how grit, determination, resiliency,
innovative thinking and the scientific process come together to
create truly incredible innovations with the potential to address
major global challenges. 3M is inspired by these young inventors, and
we celebrate their accomplishments."
Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.