What is sound? Could you explain it to an 11-year-old?

Are you up to the challenge of this year’s big science competition: explaining the science of sound to 11-year-olds?

Since 2012, the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University in New York has organized an annual competition, asking scientists — graduate students, professors or alan-alda-soundretired — to explain complicated concepts in an engaging and easy-to-understand way. Hundreds of researchers have stepped forward, answering questions about color, sleep, time and flame.

Each year, children submit questions they want answered. Actor Alan Alda presents the winning question to scientists, and asks that they submit a 300-word explanation, a graphic response or a 5-minute video explaining the concept.

“There are so many ways in which sounds affect us, so many ways that different animals use sound, and so many kinds of sound,” Alda said in a statement. “I can’t wait to see how creatively scientists will explain exactly what sound is. The kids and I are all ears.”

How would YOU explain the concept of sound?

The contest deadline is Jan. 19, 2016. Learn more about the rules at the center’s website.