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Released October 11, 2004


HATTIESBURG - An eighth-grader from Presbyterian Christian School will compete for the title of "America's Top Young Scientist of the Year" in the 2004 Discovery Channel Young Scientist Challenge.

Mary Anne Messer, daughter of Dr. Tom and Carol Messer of Hattiesburg, will be in Washington, D.C., from Oct. 23-27 to compete in the nation's premier science competition for students in grades 5-8.

One of 40 national finalists narrowed from a field of 400, Messer emerged from The University of Southern Mississippi Region I Science and Engineering Fair, where she won with her presentation "Development of a Sleep Profile for Third- and Fourth-graders: The Impact of ADD/ADHD." Messer is the only student representing Mississippi.

"This is really quite an honor, (Mary Anne's) being the only student selected from the state," said Dr. Lawrence Bellipanni, retired Southern Miss biology professor and current co-director of the Mississippi Science and Engineering Fair.

Students from 16 states will compete for more than $100,000 worth of scholarships and special prizes.

Discovery Communications launched the competition in partnership with Science Service to nurture the next generation of American scientists at a critical stage when interest in science begins to decline. Now in its sixth year, the DCYSC recognizes the children who demonstrate the best leadership, teamwork, communication and scientific problem-solving skills.

"This year's competition continues the tradition Discovery has established of making science fun for middle school students while cultivating the next generation of American scientists," said Judith McHale, president and CEO of Discovery Communications. "Discovery is teaching these future leaders not only the value of science but also the importance of effectively communicating their knowledge to others."

In Washington, D.C., the 40 finalists will take part in the DCYSC competition at the Cole Field House at the University of Maryland. They will compete in team-based, interactive challenges celebrating 100 years of Albert Einstein's physics; 2005 marks the centennial of Einstein's relativity theories and the DCYSC will help to kick off the anniversary.

The challenges this year are inspired by Einstein's physics - from relative and molecular motion to gravity and acceleration. Skateboards and a half-pipe, a radar-gun luge and a laser obstacle course will be used to help define Einstein's theories for a new generation. These action-packed activities will be taped for broadcast on the Discovery Channel and emceed by its popular television duo, the MythBusters.

Olympic gold medalist and Maryland native Michael Phelps will deliver an inspirational speech and help to celebrate with the student scientists at the Oct. 27 awards ceremony.

The full list of the 40 finalists, their hometowns and the titles of their winning entries can be found online at

For more information, contact Bellipanni at (601) 264-2453.


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November 23, 2004 9:23 AM