Special Reports

The Deadline to Register for Breakthrough Junior Challenge is Near


Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Photo : Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

The Breakthrough Junior Challenge is a global science video competition. Founded by philanthropist and scientist Yuri Milner, the challenge enables young people, ages 13 to 18, to share important scientific ideas with their peers. They explain complicated concepts of physics, mathematics, and life sciences in short, original videos. Judges choose the winners based on engagement, difficulty, creativity, and illumination.

Breakthrough Junior Challenge winners receive $250,000 in college scholarships, $50,000 for teachers who inspired them, and $100,000 for science labs built at their schools.

Several other organizations partner with Milner in presenting the challenge. They include Khan Academy, National Geographic Partners, and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, which designs the science lab for the winning student's school. 

Who Are Some Previous Winners?

Here's a look at three previous Breakthrough Junior Challenge winners.

  • Amber Kwok, an 18-year-old from Mauritius, presented a video on two concepts in physics: the Van Der Waals and Casimir forces. Kwok won in 2021 for her fast-paced video, which uses animation and other tools to engage viewers.

  • Gornekk Suwattanapong, a 17-year-old from Thailand, presented a video on "What do black holes have to do with time travel?" He explained aspects of Einstein's theory of relativity and then related the theory to black holes and time travel. Suwattanapong won in the Space Exploration category for 2021.

  • Maryam Tsegaye, a 17-year-old from Canada, presented a video on quantum tunneling, in which she described how "electrons can walk through walls." Tsegaye won in 2020. 

Who is Yuri Milner?

Yuri Milner is an Israeli scientist and the founder of DST Global. His firm is one of the world's leading technology investors, and its portfolio has included some very prominent internet companies.

Milner was born in Moscow and began his career in theoretical physics. He also attended the Wharton School of Business and worked at the World Bank in Washington, D.C. for three years. Milner became an Israeli citizen in 1999. He moved to California's Silicon Valley in 2011 and appears on the Forbes magazine billionaire list.

Milner founded the Breakthrough Prize Foundation. This organization aims to raise the profile and prestige of scientists, raise the big questions of science in the public consciousness, and inspire the next generation with scientific ideas. It also supports leading researchers in fundamental science and mathematics while investing in cutting-edge space programs.

In 2012, Yuri and his wife Julia joined Sergey Brin, Priscilla Chan, Anne Wojcicki, and Mark Zuckerberg to launch the Breakthrough Prizes - the world's most significant scientific awards. Every year, the Breakthrough Prizes award $3 million each to researchers in fundamental physics, the life sciences, and mathematics.

In 2015, he and Stephen Hawking launched Breakthrough Initiatives, a suite of space science programs investigating the fundamental questions of life in the universe. 

Yuri Milner and his wife invest in many other projects, including an initiative known as Tech for Refugees. It leverages the networks and expertise of tech companies and organizations to provide shelter and provisions for Ukrainian refugees.

Julia and Yuri Milner joined the Giving Pledge in 2012. Warren Buffett collaborated with Bill and Melinda Gates to create the pledge, and the Milners were impressed by the way the Giving Pledge brings a scientific approach to philanthropy.

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