The countdown to choosing the nation's top young scientist began today as Discovery Communications announced 400 middle school students from 44 states, including 12 from Colorado, are selected as semifinalists in the 2007 Discovery Channel Young Scientist Challenge (DCYSC). Colorado ranks 9th behind Texas (40), Florida (37), California (35), Missouri (22), Arizona (20), Utah (16), Ohio & Michigan (15) and Indiana (14) in number of students selected as semifinalists. With a focus on the environment and sustainable development, the 40 students who go on to qualify as finalists will tackle some of the planet's most significant environmental challenges, dubbed Operation Green, with the winner chosen in Washington, DC, October 21 - 24.
In its ninth year, the Discovery Channel Young Scientist Challenge is the nation's premier science contest for students in grades 5 through 8, designed to encourage the exploration of science during the critical middle school years. Discovery Communications launched the competition in partnership with Science Service to nurture the next generation of American scientists at a critical age when interest in science begins to decline.
In this year's competition, students will investigate climate change, global warming and eco-friendly initiatives such as recycling and green building design. The contest's environmental theme reflects Discovery Communication's long standing mission to preserve and protect our planet - a commitment that moves to a new level with the launch in early 2008 of Planet Green, a TV channel in more than 50 million homes dedicated to all things green.
"The Discovery Channel Young Scientist Challenge has always been an important part of our company's commitment to science education. There is a real crisis in this country when it comes to scientific proficiency, and Discovery Communications remains steadfast in our mission to advance science literacy and achievement across America's school system," said David Zaslav, President and CEO, Discovery Communications.
The contest identifies and honors those who best demonstrate leadership, teamwork, scientific problem-solving and the ability to be an effective science communicator - a goal that reflects Discovery's philosophy that scientific knowledge is most valuable when it is shared. This year's qualifying science fair projects draw upon a broad array of disciplines, including biochemistry, physics, mathematics, engineering and zoology.
"The Young Scientist Challenge targets students as they first pursue seriously their innate fascination with the natural world," said Elizabeth Marincola, President and CEO, Science Service, the non-profit organization that administers the Challenge. "In partnership with Discovery Communications, Science Service is delighted to nurture these outstanding young scientists, encouraging their interest in research and helping build their skills in promoting public engagement in science."
"As the United States struggles to compete with other nations in the fields of science and technology, DCYSC plays an important role by letting goal-oriented, knowledgeable and imaginative students showcase their science success stories to younger students. This year's semifinalists represent the country's next generation of science leaders," said Steve Jacobs, DCYSC Head Judge. "Even more impressive, and a fundamental part of our competition, is their skill in explaining their work to others, a prerequisite of scientific leadership. It is crucial that we continue to play a role in developing the skill sets that young people will need as the demand for eco-friendly innovation increases."
About the Semifinalists
The semifinalists were selected from 1,960 formal entries chosen from a pool of 75,000 students who entered science fairs nationwide.
The 12 students selected from Colorado are:
Galen Atkinson, grade 6, of Colorado Springs, CO for his project entitled Pop Goes the Marble.
Kerry Betz, grade 8, of Boulder, CO for her project entitled Something's Decaying in My Basement. Kerry took 1st Place in Physics at CSEF.
Breanna Christensen, grade 6, of Durango, CO for her project entitled Jammin' Germs.
Addison Kramer, grade 8, of Denver, CO for her project entitled Ecological Friendly Roofing. Addison received an Honorable Mention in Engineering at CSEF.
Nakayla Lestina, grade 7, of Dove Creek, CO for her project entitled Biological Control of Canada Thistle: Analyzing Three Natural Insect Enemies. Nakayla took 2nd Place in Animal Sciences at CSEF.
Lorne Muir II, grade 7, of Colorado Springs, CO for his project entitled Hydrophobic Soil Rehabilitation. Lorne took 2nd Place in Environmental Sciences at CSEF.
Rahul Shankar, grade 7, of Colorado Springs, CO for his project entitled A Software Tool to Calculate Alignment of Nucleotide Sequences to Classify the Cryptoprocta ferox. Rahul took 2nd Place in Math & Computer Sciences at CSEF.
Matthew Simonsen, grade 6, of Durango, CO for his project entitled The Reggae Effect: The Effect of TV, Reading, and Music on Recall.
Ambrose Soehn, grade 8, of Boulder, CO for his project entitled Natural vs. Synthetic Polymers in Today's World. Ambrose took 1st Place in Chemistry and was the 2nd Place Best Junior Division Indivdual Project winner at CSEF.
Nathan Weeks, grade 7, of Colorado Springs, CO for his project entitled Sound Barrier Designs. Nathan took 1st Place in Engineering at CSEF.
Sara Volz, grade 6, of Colorado Springs, CO for her project entitled What Common Substances Best Kill Bacteria on the Skin? Sara took 2nd Place in Microbiology at CSEF.
Jonathan Zulanas, grade 8, of Denver, CO for his project entitled What Are You Looking At? How Age and Gender Influence How Web Sites Are Viewed.
The countdown to choosing America's top young scientist continues on September 12, when the field is narrowed by the Challenge judges to the "Final Forty." In October, the 40 finalists and their families will come to Washington, DC, where they will take part in a series of team-based, interactive challenges focused on this year's environmental theme. The students will compete for more than $100,000 worth of scholarships and special prizes, as well as the title of "America's Top Young Scientist of the Year."
About the Competition
In 1999, Discovery created the Young Scientist Challenge to help lift achievement in science and math among middle school students. Nearly 16,000 children have entered the Young Scientist Challenge since its inception. Winners have received approximately $700,000 in scholarship awards and federal government recognition, and have participated in science-related trips that have taken them around the world.
About Discovery Communications
Discovery Communications is the number one nonfiction media company reaching more than 1.5 billion cumulative subscribers in over 170 countries. Through TV and digital media, Discovery's 100-plus worldwide networks include Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, The Science Channel, Discovery Health and Discovery HD Theater. Discovery Communications is owned by Discovery Holding Company (NASDAQ: DISCA, DISCB), Advance/Newhouse Communications and John S. Hendricks, the Discovery's founder and chairman. For more information, please visit www.discoverycommunications.com.
About Science Service
Science Service is the nonprofit organization that administers the DCYSC. Based in Washington, DC, Science Service is dedicated to advancing the understanding and appreciation of science around the globe through its publications, outreach, and educational programs. A leading and widely respected organization advancing the cause of science, Science Service has a sterling reputation for producing high-quality competitions on the national and international level, including the Intel Science Talent Search and the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair; and for publishing the weekly Science News magazine and the online Science News for Kids.
About Planet Green
Planet Green is Discovery Communications' global, cross-company initiative with a commitment to document, preserve and celebrate the planet, including the first 24-hour TV network scheduled to launch in early 2008. Planet Green speaks to people who want to understand green living and to those who are excited to make a difference by providing tools and information to meet the critical challenge of protecting our environment.
Discovery is pleased to have Elmer's Products, Inc. as a sponsor of the Discovery Channel Young Scientist Challenge. Elmer's has a proud tradition of supporting education, including science. Elmer's believes science taught through science fairs serves as a major benefit to students, allowing students to develop skills in problem-solving, research, writing, public speaking and time management. Elmer's, headquartered in Columbus, OH, has been a trusted brand and industry leader for more than 50 years, producing adhesives and a variety of well-known arts-and-crafts products that enhance creativity.