About the Flame Challenge

It’s time to launch the search for the 2016 Flame Challenge question!

Students: What question do you want scientists to answer for the 2016 Flame Challenge?

Ask your question here. So far we have had “What is sleep?”, “What is Color?”, “What is Time?” and of course, “What is Flame?”.

Teachers: Register your class now to be judges

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.

Alan Alda’s Message to Student Judges:

How It Works

Each year we pick a new question students around the world want to see answered and hundreds of scientists send in entries in written or video form.

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.

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.

Scenes From Previous Challenges

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

Support

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.