Flame Challenge burns brightly

Alan AldaLast month, Alan Alda and  the Center for Communicating Science asked scientists to answer the question – “What is a flame?” – in a way that an 11-year-old would find intelligible and maybe even fun.

What a spark that was! By April 2, the deadline, 822 entries had streamed in, from all over the United States and from 30 other countries. They ranged from a single sentence to pages of prose; from poems – including one shaped like a flame – to live-action and cartoon videos with special effects.

After being screened for accuracy by scientists, the entries are being sent to schools where 11-year-olds will judge them. More than 130 schools are taking part! The finalists will be posted on flamechallenge.org, and the winner will be announced at the World Science Festival in New York City in early June.

Thank you to everyone who is making this such an adventure in communicating science. Thank you to the contestants, the scientific screeners, the teachers and parents, and of course, the thousands of young people who will be deciding which entries are the most clear, informative, interesting, understandable and intriguing.

For more information, see flamechallenge.org or “like” the Flame Challenge Facebook page.