2012 DuPont Challenge Science Essay Winners Announced

DuPont News, May 1, 2012
Senior Division Winners with their teachers
Senior Division Winners with their teachers: (L-R) Michele Sugantino, Jason Rosenberg, Bryan Sobehrad, Aleena Glinski, Taylor Warner and Stephanie Kawamura.


The 26th annual DuPont Challenge Science Essay competition had several firsts, including a teacher mentoring division winners in consecutive years, and siblings taking top honors in the same division two years in a row.

“The DuPont Challenge is unique in its focus and its ability to inspire scientific creativity,” said DuPont Chair & CEO Ellen Kullman. “It embodies the type of competition we need in America if we are to position ourselves at the cutting edge of scientific discovery and technological innovation. The Challenge inspires students to use their knowledge of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to discover how they can contribute to a better society through scientific discovery, invention and innovation.”

The DuPont Challenge honors the astronaut heroes of the 1986 Challenger space shuttle, including Ellison S. Onizuka, Greg Jarvis, Judy Resnik, Michael J. Smith, Dick Scobee, Ron McNair, Sharon Christa McAuliffe, America’s first teacher in space, and all who work to understand and improve the world through the use of science.

In the senior division (grades 10-12), the first place winner was Taylor Warner, 10th grade, InTech Collegiate High School, North Logan, Utah, with an essay titled, “The Lowly Earthworm: A Powerful Protector of All.” Taylor’s sister, Jayme, was the senior winner in 2011. Stephanie Kawamura is Taylor’s teacher/mentor, as she was for Jayme last year. That is the first time that has happened in the 26-year history of the competition, with more than 210,000 entries and blind judging through the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA).

Other senior division winners included:

  • Second Place: Jason Rosenberg, 10th grade, Blind Brook High School, Rye Brook, N.Y., won with his essay, “Splitting the Universe One Choice at a Time.” Michele Sugantino is his teacher/mentor.
  • Third Place: Aleena Glinski, 12th grade, Catalina Foothills High School, Tucson, Ariz., wrote an essay on “Tying the Universe Together. Bryan Sobehrad is her teacher/mentor.

In the junior division (grades 7-9), Kim Nicole, 9th grade, Bergen County Academies, Hackensack, N.J., was the first-place winner with her essay, “One Breath Shorter.” Last year, Bergen County Academies had a third-place winner in the senior division. Nicole’s teacher/mentor, Eric Zhang, is a former businessman who followed his passion “to make a difference in the future of America” as a teacher. As a result, Zhang became the first Bergen County Academies graduate to return to his alma mater as a teacher.

Other junior division winners included:

  • Second Place (two-way tie): Roshni Sethi, 9th grade, Plainview Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy H.S., Plainview, N.Y., for an essay titled, “A Heart of Gold (Nanowires),” with teacher/mentor Francine Moustakalis, and Mike Espy, 9th grade, Little Snake River Valley High School, Baggs, Wyo., for an essay titled, “Moo-ing Energy,” with teacher/mentor Carolyn Hicks. Espy is the first member of the National FFA to win the DuPont Challenge.
  • Third Place: Sandy Phong, 9th grade, Garland High School, Garland, Texas, received the honor for an essay on “Using Bugs to Heal,” with Sharyn Ethington as teacher/mentor. Ethington mentored three of the top 10 essays in the junior division – another first for the competition.

The DuPont Challenge offers more than $100,000 in prizes and awards. In each division, the first-place winner receives a $5,000 U.S. savings bond. Second- and third-place winners receive $3,000 and $2,000 U.S. savings bonds, respectively. The top three winners in each division receive reference materials for their school from the Britanica Learning Center, a school subscription to the NBC Learn catalog and an expenses-paid trip to The Walt Disney World® Resort and Kennedy Space Center, accompanied by a parent.

The DuPont Challenge acknowledges the significant contributions made by teachers. Each sponsoring science teacher of a first-place winner receives a $500 educational award, an expenses-paid trip with the student and parent to The Walt Disney World® Resort and Kennedy Space Center, and an expenses-paid, DuPont-sponsored trip to the 2013 National Science Teachers Association national conference. Sponsoring teachers of the second- and third-place winners receive $500 and $250 educational awards, respectively, and expenses-paid trips to The Walt Disney World® Resort and Kennedy Space Center.

The 2012 DuPont Challenge Science Essay Competition is sponsored by DuPont in collaboration with NBC Learn, Britannica Digital Learning, The Walt Disney World® Resort, NASA, the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and A+ Media.