Grants & Awards

Young Scientist Challenge Program Applications Open

3M and Discovery Education have announced open applications for the annual 3M Young Scientist Challenge and a new Alumni Network and Alumni Grants Program. The Young Scientist Challenge awards a grand prize of $25,000 to a single winner of the best STEM project, along with mentorship from a 3M scientist and the title “America’s Top Young Scientist.” The Alumni Grants Program awards $25,000 in varying amounts to 10 former Young Scientist Challenge alumni for networking opportunities, resources, events, and funding for existing science projects.

3M’s Young Scientist Challenge has been given for 16 years. Former winners have gone on to “give TED talks, file patents, found nonprofits, make the Forbes ‘30 Under 30’ list, ring the bell at the New York Stock Exchange, and exhibit at the White House Science Fair,” according to a release, and have been featured in major media outlets and appeared on national television.

The Challenge is open to students in grades 5 through 8. Applicants are invited to create an original solution to an existing problem. To enter, contestants must submit their original idea with a 1-2 minute video. Other Challenge awards will be given: the top 10 finalists will each be awarded $1,000 and a summer mentorship by a 3M scientist; one winner will receive the Improving Lives Award of $2,000; state merit and honorable mention winners will receive packets and certificates; and the school with the most entries will receive press recognition. Application deadline is April 27, 2023. Finalist and state merit winners will be announced in June; other winners will be announced in October. More information on the application process and a link to apply can be found on the 3M Young Scientist Challenge page.

The new Alumni Network is open to all finalists and mentors who have formerly participated in the Young Scientist Challenge. The Alumni Grants program is open to former Young Scientist Challenge finalists who are part of the Alumni Network. Applicants are asked to submit a 1-2 minute video and written responses about the project they are seeking funding for. They will need to explain what the project is, how it supports or improves their community, how they plan to measure impact, and how they plan to use the funding. Application deadline is March 23, 2023.

A total of $25,000 in grants will be awarded to 10 alumni annually in varying amounts. Alumni may apply online to receive one grant within three funding areas:

  • Continuation of 3M Young Scientist Challenge Project awards $5,000 each to three alumni to continue or evolve their original Young Scientist Challenge project.

  • New Idea to Improve the World awards $2,500 each to two alumni to support projects different from their original Young Scientist Challenge project.

  • Science in Your Community awards $1,000 each to five alumni to support alumni initiatives such as community enrichment opportunities, school events, or community activation projects.

More information can be found on the Alumni Grants application portal page.

3M and Discovery Education note that “The 3M Young Scientist Challenge supplements the 3M and Discovery Education program, the Young Scientist Lab, which provides no-cost dynamic digital resources for students, teachers, and families to explore, transform, and innovate the world around them. All the resources are also available through the Young Scientist Lab Channel and in the Social Impact Partnerships channel on Discovery Education’s recently enhanced K-12 learning platform.”

About the Author

Kate Lucariello is a former newspaper editor, EAST Lab high school teacher and college English teacher.