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Released September 2, 2003


HATTIESBURG - A student who participated in the Region I Mississippi Science and Engineering Fair at The University of Southern Mississippi has been selected as a semifinalist in the 2003 Discovery Channel Young Scientist Challenge.

Brantley Hudson, a fifth grader at Presbyterian Christian School, was one of 400 students chosen nationwide for the United States' premiere science contest for students in grades five through eight.

"That Brantley was a fifth grader and was picked for the top 400 in the nation gives you a good idea what kind of science endeavors we have going in Mississippi," said Dr. Lawrence Bellipanni, a former biology professor at Southern Miss and the acting secretary for the International Science Fair Council.

Titled "Look Who's Talking," Hudson's project explores cell-phone etiquette and usage patterns.

The "Final 40" will be selected from the 400 semifinalists and will advance to the DCYSC National Competition on Oct. 19-22 in Washington, D.C. These finalists, who will be announced Sept. 17, will receive an all-expense-paid trip to the nation's capital, where they will compete for more than $100,000 worth of scholarships and special prizes as well as for the title of "America's Top Young Scientists of the Year."

The DCYSC will test the "Final 40" in a range of innovative and complex science challenges and will judge the students based on their science ability, leadership, teamwork and effective communication skills. The winner will be announced at an awards ceremony Wednesday, Oct. 22.

"At a time when science and technology play an increasingly critical role in all our daily lives, there is an urgency to ensure we are nurturing the next generation of young scientists," said Kyle O'Connor, DCYSC program director. "Discovery Channel's contest responds to this challenge by engaging middle school students and pushing the limits of innovation and creativity in science, as demonstrated by these 400 outstanding semifinalists."

The 400 students selected represent 45 states and the District of Columbia, with Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania topping the list of states with the most semifinalists. They range in age from 10 to 15 years, almost evenly split between boys and girls - 196 females and 204 males.

Students qualified for the DCYSC by winning or placing in their Science Service-affiliated state or regional science fair. DCYSC reviewed more than 1,950 entries and based their semifinalist selections on the quality of each student's original science project in addition to each student's ability to effectively communicate the science behind their work and findings.

For a listing of the semifinalists and their projects, visit



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September 4, 2003 4:18 PM