Skip to content


static image

Dara Klatt, Discovery Education, 202-607-4450

— Maanasa Mendu named America’s Top Young Scientist in Nation’s Premier Middle School Science Competition for her invention of HARVEST, a device that provides remote, global energy solutions by gathering unused solar and wind energy that is already around us to power rural and remote locations —

Silver Spring, Md. and St. Paul, Minn. (October 18, 2016) – Discovery Education (@DiscoveryEd) and 3M (@3M) have named 13-year-old Maanasa Mendu from Mason, OH, the winner of the 2016 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge (#YoungScientist). Mendu created HARVEST, a bio-inspired energy device that uses solar and wind power to capture energy in the form of wind, rain and sun – and converts it to power. 

This innovation was inspired by a visit to India where Maanasa observed many people lacking basic life necessities such as clean water and lighting. Through her invention, Mendu hopes to provide a globally applicable, cost-effective energy source to solve real problems. Mendu’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.

Mendu, a ninth grader at William Mason High School in Mason City School District, competed alongside nine other finalists today 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 prize.

During the past three months, Mendu 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. Mendu was paired with Margaux Mitera, a 3M Senior Product Development Engineer whose research has helped 3M develop new Post-it® Note products. Each of the students collaborated with some of 3M’s top scientists, who provided guidance as they worked through the scientific process to advance their ideas from a theoretical concept into a physical 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 Vice President Lance Rougeux, the finalists presented their completed inventions to an esteemed panel of scientists and leaders from both Discovery Education and 3M, including honorary guest judge Trace Dominguez, producer, writer and host of Discovery’s DNews!. In addition to presenting their prototypes, the ten finalists paired up to compete in an “Applied to Life” challenge through which they combined multiple 3M technologies to solve a real-world problem.

“Witnessing a new generation of young scientists leverage their passion and knowledge is truly inspiring,” said Jon Lindekugel, Senior Vice President, Business Development and Marketing-Sales, 3M. “We know these young scientists learn a lot from the 3M mentors they are paired with as they evolve their science innovations over three months of hard work, and the truth is, we always learn from them as well. It reminds all of us at 3M that when scientists come together, they really can change lives for the better.”

“Each year, the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge reminds us of the inspiring ingenuity that results when we empower our youngest generation to apply science, critical-thinking and creativity to solve real-world problems,” said Bill Goodwyn, President and CEO, Discovery Education. “Discovery Education is honored to stand alongside 3M in congratulating Maanasa and the rest of this year’s finalists on their impressive innovations that foreshadow a bright future for our nation.”

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 trip to a taping of a show on Discovery’s family of networks. These extraordinary students are:

  • Rohan Wagh from Portland, OR, a ninth grader at Sunset High School in Beaverton School District, received second place for his innovation that utilizes the natural metabolism of bacteria to create energy.
  • Kaien Yang from Chantilly, VA, an eighth grader at Nysmith School for the Gifted, received third place for his innovation that uses pumpkin seed oil to create both a biodiesel and bioplastic that reduce emissions and pollution from plastic.
  • Amelia Day from Sumner, WA, a ninth grader at Sumner High School in Sumner School District, received fourth place for her invention that uses sensory feedback to help rebuild neural connections inside of the brain during rehabilitation. 

The fifth through tenth place winners each received a $1,000 prize and a $500 Excitations gift card. These finalists, in alphabetical order, are:

  • Meghna Behari from Sewickley, PA, an eighth grader at Marshall Middle School (North Allegheny School District)
  • Mrinali Kesavadas from Mahomet, IL, a ninth grader at Mahomet-Seymour High School (Mahomet-Seymour School District)
  • Rohit Mital from Rochester Hills, MI, a ninth grader at Adams High School (Rochester Community Schools)
  • Sara Makboul from Acworth, GA, a ninth grader at Kennesaw Mountain High School (Cobb County School District)
  • Sofia Tomov from Knoxville, TN, an eighth grader who is homeschooled
  • Will Paschal from Madison, GA, a ninth grader at Morgan County High School (Morgan County School District)

Since its inception in 2008, the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge has awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in student 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. It targets students in the years when research indicates their interest in science begins to wane and encourages them to explore scientific concepts and creatively communicate their findings. Winners have gone on to be featured in Forbes magazine’s annual “30 Under 30” list, speak in front of members of Congress and attendees at the United Nations, meet the President of the United States, and demonstrate inventions on national television programs such as ABC World News Tonight, Fox & Friends, and The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

To download hi-res images of the science competition, click here. Video will be available shortly. For more information on the 2016 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 $30 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 4.5 million educators and over 50 million students, Discovery Education’s services are in half of U.S. classrooms, 50 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