October 18, 2005 The seventh Annual Discovery Channel Young Scientist Challenge finals are underway at the University of Maryland this week. The 40 finalists are competing in team-based, interactive simulated challenges designed around the theme of "Forces of Nature." In the wake of the recent natural disasters that ravaged the Gulf Coast of the United States and Southeast Asia, each student will face challenges - from fog banks, to hurricanes, to tsunamis - that utilize their broad range of knowledge in order to understand the implications and scope of natural disasters. The action-packed activities will be taped for broadcast on the Discovery Channel.

The forty finalists have traveled on an all-expense paid trip to Washington, DC from 18 states and Puerto Rico (most notably, eight from Florida and 4 each from Hawaii and Texas.) The 40 finalists include 21 males and 19 females. By grade level, they include 1 fifth grader, 3 sixth graders, 5 seventh graders and 31 eighth graders. The grade listed for each student is for the 2004-2005 school year (when they entered the awards) and these students have now advanced to the next grade level. A list of finalists and their projects can be found here (be prepared to feel humble when you compare your scientific understanding at a similar tender age).

These students were chosen from 1,976 entrants representing 269 affiliated fairs from 45 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

The forty finalists will share over US$100,000 in scholarships and other prizes with the top winner being awarded a US$20,000 scholarship. Winners will be announced at a final awards ceremony on Wednesday (October 19, 2005).

The finalists were chosen based upon the excellence of their projects presented at local Science Service-affiliated fairs across the United States.

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