The Kids’ Science Challenge Launches New Season October 1, 2011 National Science & Engineering Competition for 3rd-6th Graders funded by The National Science Foundation

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From October 1, 2011 to February 29, 2012, 3rd through 6th graders can enter the 4th annual Kids' Science Challenge and have the opportunity to do cool science with real scientists and earn great prizes.

Meals on Mars Photo Credit: NASA

Starting October 1st, kid scientists all over the country will be inventing new kinds of packaging, space food, and toys and games for animals. It’s all part of the Kids’ Science Challenge - the premiere elementary school science competition in the US. The Kids’ Science Challenge (KSC) is a free, nationwide science competition for students in grades 3 through 6. Each year the KSC selects 3 science topics and a group of expert scientists and engineers. Students are asked to propose an original idea or experiment that relates to one of these topics. The winning student in each category will then have the opportunity to meet and work with the respective scientist, in addition to winning great prizes. Created by Jim Metzner and funded by a grant from The National Science Foundation, the contest is now in its 4th year.

Jim Metzner is the award-winning radio producer of Pulse of the Planet, an informative daily sound portrait of Planet Earth, which recently aired its 5,000th broadcast. “We’re investing in the future of our country by turning kids on to science, demonstrating that it’s meaningful and fun,“ says Metzner. “We’re empowering kids to see their ideas come alive through the real magic of science and engineering.” Over 3,000 kids have entered the Kids’ Science Challenge to date.

Participating scientists and challenges in the Kids’ Science Challenge include:

Zero Waste
Can you invent a package that never ends up in a landfill?
Zero Waste is about using the right materials to make the package, and then reusing or recycling the package once it’s done its job. The grand-prize winning student will work with an environmental engineer at New York’s Design and Source or at Green Mountain Coffee in Waterbury, VT, on an idea how to package food, toys or other stuff in a way that doesn’t harm our world or use up limited resources.

Animal Smarts
Can you design a toy, game or experiment that enhances the life of a pet or zoo animal and demonstrates its particular intelligence?
Animals show their smarts in many ways. They communicate, play, plan and problem-solve. Find out how much animals know and how you might help to keep their minds and bodies busy. The grand-prize winning student will visit either the Oregon Zoo in Portland, OR, or Duke University’s Canine Cognition Center, in Durham, NC.

Meals on Mars
Can you come up with a new way to preserve, cook, deliver or sustainably produce food in flight or on Mars?
To prepare for space travel, food scientists must think about how to prepare and preserve food, how astronauts will eat in zero gravity, and how they’ll dispose of food and human waste. The grand-prize winner will come up with a new way to preserve, cook, deliver or sustainably produce food in flight or on Mars and will get to work with an Advanced Food Technology scientist at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX and a food safety expert at the University of Houston.

Third to sixth graders will be able to enter the competition from October 1, 2011 to February 29, 2012. Kids, parents and educators are given the opportunity to learn more about these topics while visiting kidsciencechallenge.com. There are a wide variety of online tools for writing a winning entry, hands-on activities, games, lesson plans and videos. Students can enter by downloading an entry form from the website or they may use the online registration tool, and may enter as individuals or in collaborative teams in a classroom, club, after school or home setting. The first 1,000 entrants will receive a free science activity kit. The grand-prize winner in each topic will win the respective trip listed above. Finalists in all categories will win great prizes too; including scientific toys and equipment from Carolina Biological, Thames and Kosmos, Steve Spangler Toys, Edmund Scientific, Pitsco and others. One lucky winner will also have a week at Rawhide Ranch, a summer horse camp. Educators will also have the chance to win a fabulous raised bed garden for their school from Naturalyards.

About Pulse of the Planet and Jim Metzner:
Jim Metzner is the award-winning radio producer of Pulse of the Planet, which is heard each weekday on over 210 stations worldwide and by more than 2 million weekly listeners.

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Amy Briskin
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