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Alan Alda, Stony Brook University and IBM Present The Flame Challenge Worldwide Assembly Live on Facebook Monday, April 24, 2017 at Noon EDT

On Monday, April 24, 2017 at Noon EDT, Alan Alda will join a web conference with a select group of fifth and sixth grade students worldwide to discuss the finalist entries to The Flame Challenge, a contest with the aim of encouraging scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians to communicate more effectively with the public. The live web broadcast, known as the Worldwide Assembly, can be viewed on the Stony Brook University Facebook page and at Viewers worldwide can enjoy the conversation and make their own comments on the Facebook live stream or by tagging @flamechallenge and #whatisenergy on Twitter.

The Flame Challenge, presented by Stony Brook University’s Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, with support from the American Chemical Society (ACS), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and IBM, proposes a new question for scientists to ponder each year. In 2016-17, STEM professionals submitted hundreds of written and video entries to answer the student-selected question “What is energy?” Following a screening for accuracy, the entries were judged by fifth and sixth graders from across the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia and Australia.

Written finalist entries were submitted by Hannah Holt (Hillsboro, OR), Richard de Grijs (Beijing, China) and Stuart Chalk (Jacksonville, FL). Video finalist entries were submitted by Johanna Howes (Mangerton, Australia), Alie & Micah Caldwell (La Jolla, CA) and Tevye Kuykendall, Russell Campisi & Martin Mulvihill (Oakland, CA). Finalist entries can be viewed at

In 2017, the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science forged a new partnership with IBM to grow The Flame Challenge and reach a larger audience with the Worldwide Assembly. For the first time, IBM will host the web conference and live web broadcast from its THINKLab at the Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York. The Research Center supports approximately 1,800 research scientists in hundreds of laboratories throughout the facility, houses the original Watson mega-computer that famously beat Jeopardy champion Ken Jennings, and boasts a particle accelerator underneath the building to top it off.

“The THINKLab is an amazing place and it’s exciting to be working so closely with IBM. They’re helping us amplify the impact of this contest and working with us on other science communication initiatives,” says Alan Alda, actor and founder of The Flame Challenge and the Alda Center at Stony Brook University. “It’ll be great to see where the partnership leads and how we can make a difference together.”

“We are delighted to host The Flame Challenge Worldwide Assembly this year at the IBM Research THINKLab. We look for every opportunity to spark students’ interest in science and technology, and The Flame Challenge is one of the most effective ways I’ve seen to do this,” comments Jade Nguyen Strattner, Vice President, IBM Research THINKLab and Industry Services.

Schools participating in the Worldwide Assembly on April 24 include: American School of Warsaw (Warsaw, Poland), Banogue National School (Limerick, Ireland), Black Lake Elementary (Olympia, WA), Burr Intermediate School (Commack, NY), Central Decatur Schools (Leon, IA), Credit Valley Public School (Ontario, Canada), Meridian School (Round Rock, TX), Pacific Crest Middle School (Bend, OR), Stony Brook School (Westford, MA) and White Knoll Elementary (West Columbia, SC).

Winners (one written, one visual) of The Flame Challenge will be announced on Saturday, June 4, 2017 during a special award show at the World Science Festival in New York City. For more information and tickets, visit

For additional information or questions about The Flame Challenge, email

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