Disney has opened up its second-annual science event, Planet Challenge, a competition that's designed to engage students in solving environmental challenges.

This year's challenge will be open to middle school students in grades 6 through 8 in addition to elementary students in grades 3 through 5. For the competitions, students choose an environmental topic and then research, investigate, and take action on a local level. Completed projects will be submitted as digital portfolios and scored on the design of the project, environmental impact, assessment/reflection, and final presentation. (Detailed rubrics are available on the Disney Planet Challenge site.)

Prizes will be awarded to individual teachers, classes, and schools. Further information an be found here. Participants at the middle school level will be eligible to compete for a special grand prize, which includes $20,000 for the school and $7,500 for the individual teacher, plus travel expenses to the 2012 National Science Teachers Association Conference in March 2012 and a one-year membership in NSTA. The winning class and school might be featured on the Disney Channel, and individual students will receive a Disney prize pack.

Registration is due Dec. 17, but projects won't need to be submitted until Feb. 16. WInners will be announced in April. Further information on the competitions can be found here.