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Elizabeth Hillman, Discovery Education

— Hannah Herbst Awarded $25,000 and Named America’s Top Young Scientist in Nation’s Premier Middle School Science Competition for Her Prototype that Provides Power from Ocean Currents —

Silver Spring, Md. and St. Paul, Minn. (October 14, 2015) – Discovery Education and 3M have named 15 year-old Hannah Herbst from Boca Raton, Fla. the winner of the 2015 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge. Herbst created an energy probe prototype that seeks to offer a stable power source to developing countries by using untapped energy from ocean currents. This innovation was inspired by Herbst’s desire to help her 9-year-old pen pal living in Ethiopia who lacks a reliable source of power and electricity.  Herbst’s scientific thinking reflected the competition’s goal of applying science to everyday life, creating a solution that will improve lives and strengthen communities around the globe.

Herbst, a ninth grader from Florida Atlantic University High School, competed alongside nine other middle school finalists yesterday during a live competition at the 3M Innovation Center in St. Paul, Minn. She was awarded the title of “America’s Top Young Scientist” as well as a $25,000 cash prize.

To download hi-res images and b-roll footage of the science competition, go to

During the past three months, Herbst and the other nine finalists had the exclusive opportunity to work directly with a 3M scientist to develop their personal inventions as part of a unique summer mentorship program.  Herbst was paired with Jeffrey Emslander, a 3M corporate scientist whose research and patents have helped 3M reduce emissions to the environment and use less energy in the making of products. Each of the students collaborated with some of 3M’s top scientists, who provided guidance as they worked through the scientific method to advance their ideas from a theoretical concept into an actual prototype. Together, the mentors and finalists shared their passion for science, reviewed the scientific process and worked virtually through pre-assigned objectives, with resources and support provided by Discovery Education and 3M.

During the final competition hosted by Discovery Education’s Lance Rougeux, the finalists shared their completed inventions with a panel of judges, including Hakeem Oluseyi, astrophysicist and star of Science Channel’s Outrageous Acts of Science. In addition to presenting their prototypes, the ten finalists competed in two additional challenges: 1) combining multiple 3M technologies to yield new solutions; and 2) building a simple machine using science and engineering principles.

“3M is rooted in scientific exploration and an unwavering belief that every problem has a solution. Watching these middle school students embrace this core belief with such zeal and passion has been truly remarkable,” said Jon Lindekugel, senior vice president, business development at 3M.  “Our partnership with Discovery Education underscores our shared values and vision to support the next generation of scientific thinkers as they seek to transform the world. We congratulate them all!”

“The Young Scientist Challenge empowers students with the tools and experiences they need to apply science and their critical thinking skills to solve real-world problems,” said Bill Goodwyn, president and CEO, Discovery Education. “We are proud to stand alongside 3M in their efforts to advance STEM education through this unique project-based learning opportunity that celebrates the next generation of innovators, creators, engineers and scientists. We congratulate Hannah Herbst and the rest of this year’s finalists for their innovation and the inspiration they provide middle school students everywhere.”

The remaining nine finalists also received a variety of prizes from Discovery Education and 3M. The second, third and fourth place winners each received a $1,000 prize and a student adventure trip to a destination such as Costa Rica. These extraordinary students are:

  • Raghav Ganesh from San Jose, Calif., an eighth grader at Cupertino Union School District’s Joaquin Miller Middle School, received second place for his innovation that helps monitor physiological and environmental factors that can trigger stress in those with Autistic Spectrum Disorder.  
  • Amulya Garimella from Pittsburgh, Pa., a seventh grader at Fox Chapel Area School District’s Dorseyville Middle School, received third place for her distraction-monitoring prototype that alerts the user of distraction by measuring EEG brainwaves.
  • Iris Gupta from North Potomac, Md., a seventh grader at Montgomery County Public School’s Robert Frost Middle School, received fourth place for her innovation that seeks to stop allergies at the source through inhaling or injecting nanoparticles that block allergy-triggering particles.

The fifth through tenth place winners each received a $1,000 prize and a $500 gift card from Discovery Experiences, which offers first-hand, memorable adventures they see and learn about on Discovery's networks. These finalists, in alphabetical order, are:

  • Peter Finch from Harrisville, R.I., a home schooled eighth grader
  • Arthur Frigo III from Jupiter, Fla., an eighth grader at Turtle River Montessori School
  • Alec Lessing from New York, N.Y., a ninth grader at Collegiate School
  • Conner Pettit from Lonetree, Colo., a ninth grader at Regis Jesuit High School
  • Krishna Reddy from Wichita Falls, Texas, an eighth grader at Wichita Falls Independent School District’s Kirby Junior High School
  • Sanjana Shah from Cupertino, Calif., a ninth grader at Fremont Union High School District’s Monta Vista High School

Since its inception, the Young Scientist Challenge has awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in student scholarships and prizes, paired students with world-renowned scientists to give them real-world insights and delivered much-needed science resources to millions of students, teachers and families across the country. Previous winners have met the President of the United States, addressed members of Congress, worked with the nation’s top scientists and been featured in Forbes magazine’s annual “30 Under 30” list.

For more information on the 2015 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge and to learn more about this year’s finalists, go to

About 3M
At 3M, we apply science in collaborative ways to improve lives daily. With $32 billion in sales, our 90,000 employees connect with customers all around the world. Learn more about 3M’s creative solutions to the world’s problems at or on Twitter @3M or @3MNewsroom.

About Discovery Education
Discovery Education is the global leader in standards-based digital content for K-12, transforming teaching and learning with award-winning digital textbooks, multimedia content, professional development, and the largest professional learning community of its kind. Serving 3 million educators and over 30 million students, Discovery Education’s services are in half of U.S. classrooms, over 40 percent of all primary schools in the UK, and more than 50 countries. Discovery Education partners with districts, states and like-minded organizations to captivate students, empower teachers, and transform classrooms with customized solutions that increase academic achievement. Discovery Education is powered by Discovery Communications (NASDAQ: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK), the number one nonfiction media company in the world. Explore the future of education at