3M Young Scientist Challenge Announces 2021 National Finalists & Honorable Mentions

3M and Discovery Education today announced the top 10 finalists and four honorable mention recipients in the 2021 3M Young Scientist Challenge. As the nation’s premier middle school science competition, the 3M Young Scientist Challenge features outstanding innovations from young scientists that utilize the power of STEM to improve the world.

This year’s finalists and honorable mention recipients – fourteen students ranging in age from 12-14 – identified an everyday problem in their community or the world and submitted a one- to two-minute video communicating the science behind their solution. An esteemed and diverse group of judges, including 3M scientists and leaders in education from across the country, evaluated entries based on creativity, scientific knowledge, and communication effectiveness. The competition event will take place from October 18-19, 2021, at the 3M Innovation Center in Minneapolis.

“The 3M Young Scientist Challenge demonstrates the transformative power of young minds to address global challenges by combining their unique and diverse perspectives on innovation, creativity, and a passion for a better world,” said Denise Rutherford, senior vice president and chief corporate affairs officer, 3M. “The 2021 finalists, honorable mention recipients prove the efficacy of STEM thinking. We are proud of this year’s competitors and remain committed to building greater STEM-equity that unlocks the power of people, ideas and science and imagines what’s possible.”

The top 10 2020 3M Young Scientist Challenge finalists and the four honorable mention recipients include students from public and private schools across the U.S. These projects were selected for their unique and innovative concepts innovation and effective communication by the recipient. Each finalist will be evaluated on a series of challenges, including a presentation of their completed innovation. Each challenge will be scored independently by a panel of judges. The grand prize winner will receive $25,000, a unique destination trip, and the title of America’s Top Young Scientist.

The top 10 2021 3M Young Scientist Challenge finalists are as follows in alphabetical order by last name:

  • Abhinav Anne, Naperville, Ill., Clifford Crone Middle School, Indian Prairie Community Unit School District 204
  • Samarth Mahapatra, Marietta, Ga., Dodgen Middle School, Cobb County High School Area 1
  • Snigtha Mohanraj, West Haven, Conn., Engineering and Science University Magnet School, New Haven Public School District
  • Veda Murthy, Herndon, Va., Rachel Carson Middle School, Fairfax County Public School District
  • Viraj Pandey, San Jose, Calif., Bret Harte Middle School, San Jose Unified School District
  • Sarah Park, Jacksonville, Fla., Bolles School-Bartram, Private
  • Moitri Santra, Oviedo, Fla., Jackson Heights Middle School, Seminole County Public School District
  • Danielle Steinbach, San Jose, Calif., Harker Middle School, Private
  • Aadrit Talukdar, San Jose, Calif., Basis Independent Silicon Valley, Private
  • Sydney Zhang, San Diego, Calif., Mesa Verde Middle School, Poway Unified School District

For the first time in competition history, the 3M Young Scientist Challenge will also recognize entrants with an honorable mention award. These projects were selected for their unique and innovative concepts innovation and effective communication skills. The four 2021 3M Young Scientist Challenge honorable mention recipients are as follows in alphabetical order by last name:

  • Srinija Chukkapali, Tampa, Fla., Richard F Pride Elementary School, Hillsborough County School District – Area 8
  • Varini Kadakia, San Jose, Calif., Chaboya Middle School, Evergreen School District
  • Anika Pallapothu, San Jose, Calif., Harker Middle School, Private
  • Ella Reeves, Petersham, Mass., Petersham Center School, Petersham Center School District

“Empowering young minds to solve the world’s challenges through STEM is what the Young Scientist Challenge is all about,” said Lori McFarling, president of corporate partnerships and social impact at Discovery Education. “We celebrate each of the finalists and honorable mention recipients and look forward to the final event at 3M’s global headquarters October 19th.”

In its fourteenth year, the 3M Young Scientist Challenge continues to inspire and challenge middle school students to think creatively and apply the power of STEM to discovering real-world solutions. America’s Top Young Scientists 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. These young innovators have also been named Time Magazine’s first Kid of the Year, featured in The New York Times Magazine, Forbes, Business Insider, and on national television programs such as Good Morning America, CNN’s Cuomo Prime Time, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and more.

The award-winning 3M Young Scientist Challenge supplements the 3M and Discovery Education program – Young Scientist Lab – which provides no-cost dynamic digital resources for students, teachers, and families to explore, transform, and innovate the world around them. Additional digital resources, content and professional resources are available through 3M’s Science at Home series, an array of videos showcasing 3M scientists and guests performing simple, at home experiments for kids aged 6-12. All the resources are available within Discovery Education’s K-12 learning platform and at

To learn more about the 3M Young Scientist Challenge and meet this year’s finalists, visit

For more information about Discovery Education’s digital resources and professional learning services, visit, and stay connected with Discovery Education on social media through Twitter and LinkedIn.

The American Consortium for Equity in Education, publisher of the "Equity & Access" journal, celebrates and connects the educators, associations, community partners and industry leaders who are working to solve problems and create a more equitable environment for historically underserved pre K-12 students throughout the United States.

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