Young scientists sometimes have insights that bring scientific understanding to life. Yuri Milner’s concept of the Breakthrough Junior Challenge is a global video competition, and is now inviting applicants ages 13 to 18 to submit videos that illustrate a concept from the life sciences, physics, or math in 90 seconds or less.
The challenge is organized by the Breakthrough Prize Foundation, founded by Julia and Yuri Milner, as part of their Giving Pledge to support young scientists and science education.
The winner will receive a $250,000 post-secondary scholarship, a $50,000 prize for their teacher, and a $100,000 Breakthrough science lab. The Breakthrough Prize Foundation offers this prize in partnership with Khan Academy, National Geographic Partners LLC, and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Breakthrough Science Lab.
Contestants in Julia and Yuri Milner’s Breakthrough Junior Challenge must follow the stated rules. It is important to visit the website to read the fine print, but here are the basics:
● Contestants must be at least 13 years old on April 1, 2022, and no more than 18 years old (not yet 19) on October 1, 2022.
● Minors need the permission of their parents to participate.
● Contestants participate as individuals. Group submissions will not be accepted.
● Contestants affirm that their submissions are their original work and that they have all rights to the content they submit.
● All submissions must be in English.
● Students from all over the world are welcome to submit projects.
● When you submit your work, it becomes the property of the Breakthrough Foundation, which may publish and distribute it and create derivative works without paying you royalties.
Applications will be accepted beginning April 1, 2022. Contestants are asked to give some brief information about themselves, their schools, and their projects on the forms available here.
Finalists and Prizes
There is only one winner of the Breakthrough Prize, but 16 contestants will be named as finalists based on evaluation by judges and also a popular vote.
In 2021, Farid Chomali Castro of Chile, 17, was the overall top scorer in the popular vote for his video, “Bose Einstein Condensates: The Fifth State of Matter.” Chomali received over 29,000 likes and positive reactions. His video was automatically included in the finalist round.
Gornekk Suwattanapong of Thailand, 17, was the popular vote winner in the Space Exploration category. His video, “What Do Black Holes Have To Do With Time Travel?” won him automatic consideration in the Space Exploration category for an opportunity to view a rocket launch.
Finalists were also chosen from seven regions of the world: Asia, Australia/Oceania, Europe, India, the Middle East/Africa, North America, and South/Central America.
Amber Kwok of Mauritius, 18, received top honors for her video, “Van der Waals and Casimir Forces.” Her $400,000 in prizes included $50,000 for her teacher, Shastri Doorgah, and a $100,000 laboratory for her school designed by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.
“I learned about the Breakthrough Junior Challenge from Khan Academy and was instantly fascinated by the idea of explaining science through video,” Kwok said. “I believe that science can expand our knowledge on the mysteries of the universe and help us find innovative solutions for today’s global issues. Winning the challenge is a life-changing honor for me. I can’t wait to see what’s next and to explore the many exciting opportunities it will bring.”
About Yuri Milner
Yuri Milner was inspired by encounters with scientists as a boy to become a theoretical physicist. He later applied his scientific outlook to investing in tech startups that achieved stellar success, with investments in companies including Facebook, Spotify, Snap, and Twitter. He and his wife, Julia, later joined the Giving Pledge, and went on to launch the Breakthrough Prize, the world’s most generous prizes for scientific achievement, along with Sergey Brin, Priscilla Chan, Mark Zuckerberg, and Ann Wojcicki.
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