Three Indian Americans in finals of the Discovery Challenge

Have chance to emulate last year’s winner, Deepika Kurup.

By Deepak Chitnis

WASHINGTON, DC: Three Indian Americans are among the ten finalists in the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge.

Fourteen year-old Anish Chaluvadi of South Carolina, 12 year-old Srijay Kasturi of Virginia, and 12 year-old Aishani Sil of Texas are all vying for the top prize of the “American’s Top Young Scientist” title, a free trip provided by and to Discovery Student Adventures at one of its many international locations, and a cash prize of $25,000.

The Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge was started in 1999, at that time called the Discovery Channel Young Scientist Challenge. The 3M was added when the company became a sponsor and added its technology and resources to the competition. Students in grade 5-8 are eligible to enter, and do so by submitted a 1-2 minute-long video in which they describe some invention they have come up with that could solve a large-scale global problem.

The judges examine each video on the following criteria, assigning each category the corresponding percentage of the video’s total score: creativity (30%), scientific knowledge (30%), persuasiveness and communication skills (20%), and an overall presentation score (20%). The top ten students after these judging criteria are scored become finalists.

The ten finalists then travel to St. Paul, Minnesota, where 3M headquarters are located. There, they undergo another series of challenges, only this time they are judged by a slightly different set of criteria: creativity (30%), scientific knowledge (20%), use of 3M technology (10%), and the combined rankings they placed in the various final challenges (40%).

Indian-Americans are frequently among the finalists. Last year, New Hampshire’s Deepika Kurup was crowned the champion of the competition.

Chaluvadi, an aspiring biomedical engineer, is an avid fan of math and science, and actively participates in his school’s LEGO Robotics club. Kasturi, who like writing software code and working with computers, is also a movie fan who writer fan-fiction in his free time. And Sil has plans to become a scientist in her career, though for now she spends her free time as an artist. Clearly the sky is the limit for these smart, talented, and well-rounded young students.

The videos for all the finalists can be seen on the Discovery Education website.

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