Carl Sandburg Student Needs Community’s Help: Vote for Samhita Pokkunuri for “Improving Lives Award” in 3M Young Scientist Contest

An eighth grader at Carl Sandburg Middle School is asking for help from Old Bridge students and the community to vote for her between Sept. 28 and Oct. 9 for the “Improving Lives Award” in the 3M Young Scientist Challenge, which she is a finalist.

Samhita Pokkunuri is one of four girls and six boys, ranging in age from 12-14, who will compete as a finalist in the 3M Young Scientist Challenge next month. At that time, she will present her project virtually and the title of America’s Top Young Scientist will be announced.

But before that happens, she is encouraging the community to click on the link, in which as a finalist she submitted a short video, and vote for her as a young scientist who you believe will improve lives most.

Pokkunuri also is asking everyone to vote once per day for the two-week period and share the link with friends and families.

The final event will take place on Oct 13, when all the finalists will present their projects virtually, and the title of America's Top Young Scientist will be announced.

For the contest, Pokkunuri identified an everyday problem she is passionate about and submitted a video communicating the science behind her solution to solve the problem.

The youngster designed and programmed multiple robots to mimic swarm intelligence to be used to accomplish complex tasks and collect data and information in the aid of healthcare, agriculture, construction, security and military operations.

Judges earlier this year included 3M scientists and leaders in education from across the country, who evaluated initial entries based on creativity, scientific knowledge, and communication effectiveness. As a result, Pokkunuri won a top 10 spot in this year’s challenge with innovative thinking, scientific acumen, and display of exceptional communication skills.

The top 10 winners will now move on to the next phase of the contest. In response to COVID-19, the 2020 3M Young Scientist Challenge is pivoting the final event from 3M headquarters in St. Paul, Minn. to an interactive virtual competition to be held on Oct. 12-13, when finalists will be evaluated on a series of challenges and the presentation of their completed innovation.

Each 2020 3M Young Scientist Challenge finalist received $1,000 and the opportunity to work virtually with a 3M scientist, who mentored the finalist and helped evolve his or her invention from idea to prototype. The grand prize winner will receive $25,000 and the prestigious title of America’s Top Young Scientist.

In its 13th year, the 3M Young Scientist Challenge continues to inspire and challenge middle school students to think creatively and apply the power of STEM to discovering real-world solutions.