Curiosity, Creativity and STEM Can Solve Real-World Problems

Excerpt from the May 12th issue of  THE Journal

By Guest Blogger & 2020 3M Young Scientist Challenge Finalist Kyle Tianshi

My passion for STEM has been driven by curiosity, creativity and a desire to improve the world we live in. I love that STEM provides a way to solve problems and improve lives – it’s the inspiration behind my latest invention, a portable Total Suspended Solids (TSS) device that detects invisible particles in water to monitor water quality and contamination levels.

I had the opportunity to bring my invention to the next level during the 3M Young Scientist Challenge, a competition hosted by 3M and Discovery Education, and hope my experience helps encourage other students to pursue their own passion for STEM.

Thinking out-of-the box

In elementary school, one of my favorite books was What If? By Randall Munroe, which uses science and math to explore out-of-the-box, absurd “what if” scenarios. While I didn’t always understand the more technical concepts, it was fascinating to see investigative inquiry play out. Books like What If? kickstarted my passion for STEM, which has continued to grow over the years.

Whether it’s an article about the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines or NASA’s Perseverance, reading helps fuel my curiosity and interest in STEM. I also participate in many STEM extracurriculars, like FIRST LEGO League and MATHCOUNTS at school. Connecting with other people who are passionate about STEM is a great way to learn and an excellent opportunity to collaborate.

Having the opportunity to discuss my projects and ideas with peers and STEM experts, like my 3M mentor Dr. Jonah Shaver, has kept me encouraged and inspired. I looked forward to sharing my progress with Dr. Shaver during a virtual meeting each week, while he showed me the fresh bread he just baked or the wild turkeys that seem to love hanging out in his backyard.

Help students like Kyle explore STEM innovation and think outside-the-box with ready-to-use resources and activities from the 3M Young Scientist Lab to foster a new generation of scientists who are inspired to improve the world with science. For teachers, students and parents seeking a place to explore the world of scientific innovations and opportunities, the interactive portal is filled with engaging activities and standards-aligned teaching tools, anchored by the award-winning annual Young Scientist Challenge.

Educators subscribed to Discovery Education’s K12 learning platform can also explore resources on the 3M channel, including Science at Home, a series of ready-to-use videos perfect for summer learning. These videos feature hands-on, fun experiments using common, easy-to-find items to help you cultivate students’ curiosity in any learning environment. Take a look today and check back for more videos coming this summer.