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Thursday, September 14, 2006

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Countdown Continues: Final Forty Chosen in National Challenge to Name America's "Top Young Scientist of the Year"

8th Annual Discovery Channel Young Scientist Challenge Welcomes "Disease Detectives" to Washington DC

National Institutes of Health to Collaborate in this Celebrated Program

Silver Spring, Md. — The countdown to choosing the nation's top young scientist entered its final phase today as Discovery Communications announced the 40 middle school students from around the country selected as finalists in the 2006 Discovery Channel Young Scientist Challenge (DCYSC). The DCYSC is the nation's premier science contest for students in grades 5-8. The competition, created by Discovery Communications and Science Service, gives students the opportunity to test their knowledge and push their limits as they explore the world of science.

This year's theme, "Disease Detectives", features a series of challenges in which selected students will investigate global health concerns, their causes and their impact — from avian flu to obesity. This focus sparked the interest of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which, since 1887, has helped lead the way toward important medical discoveries that improve people's health and save lives. It was announced this morning that NIH will collaborate with DCYSC in the final round of the 2006 challenge. In this capacity, the Institutes will work with the competition's lead scientist to formulate and design the experiments, built around current health trend issues.

"Discovery is proud to continue the tradition of supporting middle school education and cultivating the next generation of American scientists," said John Hendricks, Founder and Chairman, Discovery Communications. "We are honored that NIH has joined us in this year's venture, as NIH scientists every day are investigating ways to prevent disease as well as identifying their causes, and developing treatments and cures. By welcoming these students, and a national audience via our televised broadcast, NIH is providing the unforgettable experience of seeing ground-breaking research in action. Everyone involved is in for quite a treat."

"NIH is pleased to be a part of this year's Discovery Channel Young Scientist Challenge. We are glad to have the chance to encourage today's young minds, which will be finding the solutions to tomorrow's health problems," said NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D. "This year's challenge is particularly significant because it addresses health issues critical to our world population. We're looking forward to hosting these young scientists on our campus and making these scientific challenges and discoveries accessible to the larger public via this program."

"The Discovery Channel Young Scientist Challenge offers young people the special opportunity to learn science by doing science. These students will get to apply their natural interest in and curiosity about research to real problems in a real experimental setting. If the experience of former DCYSC finalists is an indicator, it will be for them an experience of a lifetime," noted Elizabeth Marincola, President of Science Service, the Washington, D.C. nonprofit dedicated to science education that presents the DCYSC in partnership with Discovery Communications.

The full list of 40 finalists, their hometowns and schools and the titles of their winning entries can be found at: http://www.discovery.com/dcysc.

The Finalists

The 40 finalists, and contenders for the title of "America's Top Young Scientist," hail from 20 states and the District of Columbia. The top states represented are Florida with 7 finalists, California (4), Texas (4), Maryland (3), and Colorado, Hawaii, Michigan, Minnesota and Wyoming, each with 2. States sending one finalist to this year's Challenge are Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Montana, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and the District of Columbia. Finalists were selected from a group of 400 semifinalists who were announced in August. These semifinalists were chosen from 1,900 formal entries, drawn from an initial pool of 70,000 students who entered science fairs nationwide affiliated with Science Service.

The finalists were chosen based on their written essays about science fair projects that each had presented at their local science fairs across the country. During the DCYSC finals, the finalists will present their research to judges and the public, using their communication skills and creative thinking as science communicators to explain the complexities of their research. Finalists will compete for more than $100,000 worth of scholarships and special prizes, as well as the title of "America's Top Young Scientist of the Year."

Bios and interviews with the finalists are available upon request.

A Competition for "Disease Detectives"

These 40 finalists will travel to Washington, D.C. October 21st through 25th, where they will take part in the DCYSC finalist competition at the National Institutes of Health campus in Bethesda, Maryland. The finalists will compete in team-based, interactive challenges designed around the theme of "Disease Detectives." The young scientists will have to use their scientific know-how to find solutions to this year's challenges.

From the global scare of bird flu to the domestic epidemic of obesity, this year's theme is poignantly relevant. Each challenge requires the young scientists to rely on their broad range of scientific knowledge in order to explore and understand today's health issues. The students will be presented with a wide range of experiments to test their science skills. These action-packed activities will be taped for broadcast on the Discovery Channel.

About the Competition

In 1999, Discovery created the DCYSC to help address America's chronic underachievement in science and math. The contest responds to evidence that academic performance and interest in science among American students declines dramatically as students get older — particularly during the middle school years.

The DCYSC identifies and honors America's top middle school student who demonstrates the best skills in leadership, teamwork and scientific problem solving. In addition, the ability to be an effective science communicator — a goal that reflects Discovery's philosophy that scientific knowledge is most valuable when it is communicated and shared — is a key component of the judging.

More than 13,000 children have entered the DCYSC since its inception eight years ago. Winners have received approximately $700,000 in scholarship awards and federal government recognition, and have participated in science-related trips that have taken them to the far corners of the globe.

Discovery is pleased to have Elmer's as a DCYSC sponsor. Elmer's has a proud tradition of supporting education, including science. Elmer's believes science taught through Science Fairs serves as a major benefit to students, allowing them to develop skills in problem solving, research, writing, public speaking and time management.

Discovery Communications, Inc. is the leading global real-world media company with operations in 170 countries and territories reaching 1.4 billion cumulative subscribers. DCI's over 100 networks of distinctive programming represent 28 trusted brands including Discovery Channel, TLC and Animal Planet. DCI's other properties consist of Discovery Education and COSMEO, a revolutionary online homework help service, as well as Discovery Commerce, which operates more than 100 Discovery Channel Stores in the U.S. Discovery brings the real world to the whole world through its global multiplatform initiatives including Discovery Travel Media, Discovery Mobile and multiple broadband services. DCI's ownership consists of four shareholders: Discovery Holding Company (NASDAQ: DISCA, DISCB), Cox Communications, Inc., Advance/Newhouse Communications and John S. Hendricks, the Company's Founder and Chairman. More information about Discovery and its businesses can be found at www.discovery.com.

Science Service is the non-profit organization that administers the DCYSC. Based in Washington, DC, Science Service is dedicated to advancing the understanding and appreciation of science around the globe through its publications, outreach, and educational programs. A leading and widely respected organization advancing the cause of science, Science Service has a sterling reputation for producing high-quality competitions on the national and international level, including the Intel Science Talent Search and the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. Science Service also publishes Science News magazine, reaching over 1 million readers weekly, as well as the online, interactive Science News for Kids (www.sciencenewsforkids.org). For more information about Science Service, its programs, and publications, please visit www.sciserv.org.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

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