Discovery Education and 3M Announce America's Top Young Scientist and Top Science Teacher

Press Release From:
Posted: Tuesday, October 7, 2008


- $50,000 in U.S. Savings Bonds Awarded in Premier National Science Competition

SILVER SPRING, Md., Oct. 7 Discovery Education and 3M today announced "America's Top Young Scientist" and "America's Top Science Teacher" -- winners of the 2008 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge (YSC). Melissa Rey of Chesterfield, MO was selected as the grand prize winner of the student competition, capturing the prestigious title and $50,000 in U.S. Savings Bonds ($25,000 cash value). Edward Evans from Welch, WV was named top teacher, winning a $5,000 cash prize, the Discovery Education multimedia service suite (video-based learning products for the classroom), and numerous products from 3M to be used throughout the school year.

On October 5-6, 2008, ten students and five teachers were challenged to defy gravity, bend light and more at the YSC finals held at NASA's world-renowned Goddard Space Flight Center located near Washington, D.C. Presented with multiple rounds of space-themed challenges, students and teachers were evaluated by a panel of judges on their science skills and their ability to share scientific knowledge with others both in-person and on-camera. The judging panel consisted of Steve Jacobs -- an accomplished scientist, educator and author, along with several 3M scientists and NASA representatives, including a former astronaut. All ten student finalists will be featured in a Science Channel special airing January 18, 2009.

"Congratulations to Melissa, Edward, and to all those who participated in the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge," said David Zaslav, President and CEO, Discovery Communications. "Discovery is proud to continue our commitment to supporting middle school education, and encouraging the next generation of American scientists to excel in science and technology. While today we recognize the top student and teacher prize winners, all students who participated in this year's challenge are winners."

"It's an exciting moment when you have the opportunity to celebrate science achievement among our country's top students and teachers," added Robert MacDonald, President, 3M Foundation. "These talented finalists all represent hope for our future as we work to foster innovation and new discoveries for years to come. We at 3M congratulate them all."

By advancing to the finalist round of the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, all student finalists were awarded a $1,000 cash prize, a personalized competition medal, an assortment of 3M products, and full Discovery Channel DVD sets including the acclaimed PLANET EARTH series. Further, each student finalist received the following top individual prize:

-- Avni Bavishi from Hoffman Estates, IL won the Discovery Health "Forensics Camp" prize, allowing her to travel to Union College in upstate New York to experience the job of a crime scene investigator.

-- Margaret Botros from Wichita, KS won the Lowell Observatory "Star Gazer" prize, allowing her to get a behind-the-scenes look at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, AZ.

-- Shyamal Buch from Folsom, CA (first runner-up) won the Overbrook "Entertainment Award" prize, allowing him a behind-the-scenes visit to the set of an upcoming Overbrook Entertainment film (past films include I, Robot, The Pursuit of Happyness, I Am Legend and Hitch).

-- Megan Gleason from Tucson, AZ won the Science Channel "Takes You to the BRINK" prize, allowing her to travel to New York City to meet world-renowned theoretical physicist Dr. Michio Kaku and appear on Science Channel's new series BRINK.

-- Michael Koehler from Allison Park, PA won the National Park Service "Space to Sea Adventure" prize, allowing him to see a shuttle launch at NASA's Kennedy Space Center and assist National Park Service biologists at Canaveral National Seashore.

-- James Kruse from Brighton, MN won the Discovery Channel "Amazing Inventions" prize, allowing him to travel to San Francisco's Treasure Island to meet the expert engineers featured on Discovery Channel's PROTOTYPE THIS.

-- Peter Ku from Princeton Junction, NJ (second runner-up) won the 3M "Innovation" prize, allowing him a one-day visit to 3M's global headquarters in St. Paul, MN, to meet 3M scientists and tour 3M's state of the art labs and the Science Museum of Minnesota.

-- Mathew McGuthry from Richmond Hill, GA won the Animal Planet "Whale Watch" prize, allowing him to join Animal Planet's chief ocean correspondent Philippe Cousteau Jr. on a whale watching expedition.

-- Jack Uesugi from Wahiawa, HI won the Discovery Commerce "Reach for the Stars" prize, awarding him a state-of-the-art Celestron NexStar 6SE Telescope.

In addition, all the teacher finalists -- Edward Evans from Welch, WV, Lania Ho from Melbourne, FL, Paul Kuhlman from Avon, SD, Steve Latshaw from Westlake Village, CA, and Philip Pack from Kingston, PA -- returned home with $1,000 cash prize, a competition medal, full Discovery Channel DVD sets, and numerous products from 3M to be used throughout the school year. Also, during the competition, Paul Kulhman was named South Dakota teacher of the year.

Interviews with the finalists and winners, as well as b-roll and images of the YSC finals, are available upon request. The full list of student finalists, their hometowns, schools and entry videos can be found at

The 2008 Competition

In its 10th year, the YSC introduced a new entry mechanism for students, challenging their ability to innovatively use everyday technology to communicate basic scientific concepts. From camcorders to cell phones, YSC competitors chose any technology available to create two-minute videos demonstrating their understanding of scientific concepts surrounding "The Science of Space" theme, including the Doppler Effect, a Parabola, Why Earth's Sky Appears Blue, Orbital Paths, Magnetic Fields, the Bernoulli Principle and the Venturi Effect. Entries were evaluated on students' ability to understand and effectively communicate the meaning of their chosen concept, not on the sophistication of their video production. The competition was open to all middle schoolers across the country.

This year, Discovery Education and 3M added a teacher component to the competition that follows the same premise as the student challenge. With the goal of finding the nation's top science teacher, the YSC challenged teachers to make their own videos explaining space-related concepts, including Newton's Laws of Motion, Acceleration, Aeronautics, Centrifugal and Centripetal Force, and Scope and Scale.

About Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge

The Young Scientist Challenge is the nation's premier science competition for middle schoolers. The YSC targets students in the years when research indicates their interest in science begins to fade and encourages them to explore scientific concepts and creatively communicate their findings. As a way to further reinforce its longstanding commitment to scientific innovation, 3M came on board this year as the Presenting Sponsor of the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge. In addition, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Governors Association, National 4-H Council, and Science Olympiad have signed on as partners for this year's YSC. All four organizations join Discovery Education and 3M with the common goal of engaging and inspiring every middle school student in America to explore science and share their findings.

About Discovery Education

Discovery Communications revolutionized television with the Discovery Channel and is now transforming classrooms through Discovery Education. Powered by the number one nonfiction media company in the world, Discovery Education combines scientifically proven, standards-based digital media and a dynamic user community in order to empower teachers to improve student achievement. Already, more than half of all U.S. schools access Discovery Education digital services. Explore the future of education at

About 3M

A recognized leader in research and development, 3M produces thousands of innovative products for dozens of diverse markets. 3M's core strength is applying its more than 40 distinct technology platforms -- often in combination -- to a wide array of customer needs. With $24 billion in sales, 3M employs 79,000 people worldwide and has operations in more than 60 countries. For more information, visit

Source: Discovery Communications

CONTACT: Tammy Shea of Discovery Communications, +1-240-662-6506,; or Glenn Carter of 3M, +1-651-737-0687,

Web site:

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