Famous actor Alan Alda of M*A*S*H fame has a heart for science. He announced the winners of Stony Brook University’s Flame Challenge contest, in which scientists had to explain this year “what is color?” to 11-year olds.
Actor Alan Alda announced the winners of Stony Brook University’s Flame Challenge contest, in which scientists had to explain “what is color?” in a way that would interest and enlighten 11-year-olds.
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The winners, Melanie Golob and Dianna Cowern, received trophies and congratulations from Alan Alda and hundreds of children at the “What is Color?” event at the World Science Festival in New York City.
Melanie Golob, a biochemist from Olympia Washington, won for the top-ranked written answer. Cowern, who received her BS in Physics from MIT, won for the top-ranked video explanation. The entries were judged by nearly 27,000 schoolchildren from around the world including from Pakistan, Madagascar, Germany, Argentina, Australia and 41 states in the US.
"My happiest congratulations go to Melanie Golob and Dianna Cowern for their wonderful explanations of color. They both respect the intelligence of the 11-year-old judges, while giving them something to laugh at - and the students responded enthusiastically,” says Alda. “My thanks to all the scientists who entered the contest. I hope it was fun and interesting to face the challenge of being clear, but accurate, about something complex. Not only is this the first year that a woman has won the Flame Challenge, but both winners are women. I hope that girls as well as boys around the world will be inspired by these two young, thoughtful and passionate scientists."
Dianna Cowern, who goes by the tag @thephysicsgirl, is very passionate about communicating science and is the outreach coordinator for the Physics Department at the University of California, San Diego. Cowern started her own educational channel on YouTube called Physics Woman where she has videos talking about cool physics concepts like how to float a ping pong ball on air, to what is was like being a woman at MIT.
On winning the Flame Challenge, Cowern says, “Without avenues like the Flame Challenge to validate creative and accurate science communication, many, like me, may feel our science communication efforts are in vein; and we may lose the benefit of thousands of fantastic minds for whom science and expression are not separate.”
You can see the answers to What is color on the Flame Challenge site. Watch the winning visual answer below.
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