About the Challenge

Click here to see the timeline for the 2015 Flame Challenge: What is Sleep?

Alan Alda’s Message to Scientists:

Scientists: Submit your entries by February 13, 2015

Click here to submit your entry. Even if your entry is a graphic or a video you will need to fill out an entry form.

Alan Alda’s Message to Student Judges:

Teachers: Register for the 2015 Flame Challenge by February 27, 2015

Even if your school participated last year, you still need to register for this year’s challenge. Sign up your school to be judges by clicking here.

How It Works

After screening for scientific accuracy, the entries are judged by thousands of 11-year-olds in schools around the world. The winning scientists are brought to New York to be honored in June at the World Science Festival. Entries can be written, video or graphic. For rules and other information, see the links at the right.

The Flame Challenge began in 2012 with Alan Alda’s childhood query: What is a flame?

“When I asked what a flame was at the age of 11,” Alan said, “I was probably younger in some ways than most 11-year-olds are now.” He said the kids asked a very deep question in 2013 (“What is Time?), and that it was fun to see how scientists around the world answered “that one” in everyday language.

Scenes From Previous Challenges

To give you a sense of the fun and excitement of the Flame Challenge, here is a video snapshot of a previous contest.

“What is Color?” Meet the Winners:

The winners of the 2014 Flame Challenge were revealed at a special event at the World Science Festival. Enjoy the live-stream of the 2014 World Science Festival awards ceremony, hosted by Alan Alda, meet the winners and hear a little bit about what influenced their entries.


Many thanks to our Flame Challenge sponsors, the American Chemical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), two nonprofit organizations working to improve communication of science.