Open Call for Entries for America’s Next Top Young Scientist

2021 3M Young Scientist Challenge

Annual 3M Young Scientist Challenge Offers Unique Experience for Young Innovators to Showcase STEM Ingenuity

3M and Discovery Education are excited to announce that the 2021 3M Young Scientist Challenge (#YoungScientist) is now open to entries. As the nation’s premier middle school science competition, the annual 3M Young Scientist Challenge invites students in grades 5-8 to compete for an exclusive mentorship with a 3M scientist, a $25,000 grand prize, and the chance to earn the title of “America’s Top Young Scientist.” Competition entries are accepted at until the April 27, 2021 deadline.

Each year, the 3M Young Scientist Challenge recognizes the grand prize winner, 10 finalists, the Improving Lives Award winner, and up to 51 state merit winners nationwide who have demonstrated a passion for solving everyday problems to improve the world around them.

To enter, students in grades 5-8 need an original idea that helps solve an everyday problem in their community. They are invited to submit their solution in the form of a one to two-minute video explaining the science behind it. A diverse group of judges will evaluate entries based on creativity, scientific knowledge, and effective communication skills. Videos will not be judged on production skills and may be recorded on cell phones or basic digital cameras.

Previous challenge finalists have collaborated with 3M scientists to create solutions to a wide variety of real-world problems, including water conservation, food waste, alternative energy sources, cancer treatments, energy consumption, and transportation efficiency. The 2020 winner, 14-year-old Anika Chebrolu, found a molecule that can selectively bind to the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which may help support work to find a cure for COVID-19.

In June 2021, 10 finalists will be chosen to participate in an exclusive summer mentorship program where they will work closely with and learn from a 3M scientist. Each finalist receives the opportunity to compete in the final event – an interactive competition comprised of hands-on challenges, presentations, live judging, and more. At the final event, to be held on October 18-19, the grand prize winner and the Improving Lives Award winner will be announced.

“At 3M, using science to solve the world’s toughest challenges is at the core of everything we do. For 14 years, and especially now, in the midst of an ongoing global pandemic, we have been incredibly proud to see what happens when young people are inspired to combine their individual passions with STEM learning – the world of possibilities that opens to them is endless,” said Denise Rutherford, senior vice president of Corporate Affairs at 3M. “The 3M Young Scientist Challenge encourages STEM exploration in students at all levels and continues to demonstrate that any idea, big or small, can help change the world for the better. We are enthusiastic to see this year’s entries and are sure to be inspired.”

In its 14th year, the 3M Young Scientist Challenge continues to inspire and challenge middle school students to think creatively and apply the power of STEM to real-world solutions. Hundreds of young scientists have had the opportunity to share their innovations through the 3M Young Scientist Challenge and past winners have gone on to be named TIME’s first ever “Kid of the Year”, give TED Talks, file patents, found nonprofits, named on 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 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. Learn more and meet all past finalists at

“There’s simply nothing like the 3M Young Scientist Challenge – a place where students come together to solve global problems in the quest to make the world a better place,” said Lori McFarling, President of Corporate & Community Partnerships at Discovery Education. “The 3M Young Scientist Challenge pairs today’s students with real-world scientist mentors to help them bring their STEM vision to life. We’re excited to welcome this year’s young scientists and can’t wait to see where their innovation takes us.”

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. All resources are available through Additional digital resources, content and professional resources are available at, featuring 3M scientists  and guests performing simple, at home experiments for kids aged 6-12, and via the Corporate Education Partnerships Channel on Discovery Education’s award-winning, flexible K-12 learning platform, a digital service featuring high-quality resources and instructional supports for educators enriching student learning and extending it to the real world.

Submit entries to

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.

Share this page with your friends and colleagues:


Interested in writing for us?

Send us your insight so we can share it! We welcome article submissions from educators, advocates, thought leaders and companies who are working to make education more equitable, accessible and inclusive.
Let's keep in touch! Click to join our email list & subscribe to our newsletter.

Skip to content