Flame ChallengeActor, writer, and science advocate Alan Alda recently launched the sixth Flame Challenge science education contest.

Since 2011, Alda has presented scientists with questions asked by kids in an effort to bridge a communication gap and enhance overall scientific communication to those not in the field. After sorting through hundreds of questions proposed by kids, Stony Brook University’s Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science has announced that it will be asking scientists from around the world, “What is energy?”

“As far as I know, nothing happens without energy,” Alda says. “Night and day, we’re surrounded by it, moved by it — we live and breathe by it. But what is it?”

The Flame Challenge will be judged by 11-year-olds from around the world, challenging the scientists submitting answer to easily communicate these complex concepts.

“I hope scientists from every discipline will have a go at answering this fundamental question about energy. Eleven-year-olds all over the world are waiting to hear the explanation,” Alda says. “The kids — and our sponsors, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Chemical Society — all invite scientists to see if they can explain this complex aspect of nature clearly and vividly. Give it your best shot because, don’t forget, the kids themselves are the judges.”

Scientists and educators looking to participate in this challenge can get more information at www.flamechallenge.org.