Meet Alumni:

Anna Du

2018 Young Scientist Challenge Finalist

Anna participated in the 2018 3M Young Scientist Challenge and continues to work on her innovation today. Now in 11th grade, Anna is extremely passionate about the environment and loves reading and astronomy.

Did you continue working on your 3M Young Scientist Challenge innovation? If yes, how far did you take your research and/or are you still working it, and do you have any progress updates that you can share?

Yes, even now, I’m still working on my 3M Young Scientist Challenge innovation! When I first attended the 3M Young Scientist Challenge, I designed a remotely operated vehicle to identify where microplastics were located on the ocean floor. Since then, I not only utilized artificial intelligence to enhance the microplastic detection system, but I was able to create a global map to predict likely areas of microplastic accumulation!

What are your favorite three school subjects?

My three favorite subjects are astronomy research, college chemistry, and accelerated physics. Astronomy has always been a hobby of mine, and it’s very exciting for me to be able to explore what I’m passionate about during school-time. I also enjoy college chemistry and accelerated physics, which I’m taking simultaneously right now. It always surprises me how we can see the same concepts from so many different perspectives, and how that can drastically shift the way we understand the world!

What advice do you have for a student who is considering entering the 3M Young Scientist Challenge? How would you say the 3M Young Scientist Challenge impacted your life?

A piece of advice I would give a student who is considering entering the 3M Young Scientist Challenge, is don’t be afraid to mess up. I believe that we are always going to make mistakes—it’s part of life. However, trial and error is an extremely important part of engineering, and I think that Thomas Edison’s quote, where he mentions that he has not failed, he’s just “found 10,000 ways that won’t work,” represents a crucial part of our lives. Attending the 3M Young Scientist Challenge has helped me change my approach to life.

What is your favorite memory from your time as a 3M Young Scientist Challenge finalist?

My favorite memory is getting to tour the museum at 3M and walking through the history of some of the most popular products of the past century! I got to learn some awesome fun facts, which I still pull out as party tricks today, including the history behind the invention of the Post-it! I’ve always loved going to museums, and immersing myself in both the present, the past, and the potential for the future, and this was an experience that I’m certain I will never forget.

Have you stayed in contact with your 3M mentor? Anything you’d like to share about your experience working with a 3M mentor?

I have stayed in contact with my 3M mentor, Ann Fornof! Connecting with her throughout my entire 3M experience was an amazing learning opportunity for me, especially as this was the first real science project I had conducted. During our weekly calls, I learned so much about how to design, conduct, and analyze experiments. After the competition, she even connected me to the organizers of the largest innovation conference in the Czech Republic — the Innovation Week, where I had the opportunity to give a keynote presentation!

“Attending the 3M Young Scientist Challenge has helped me change my approach to life.”

Anna Du

2018 Finalist