Young, avid lovers of science can develop and share their particular interests by entering Yuri Milner’s Breakthrough Junior Challenge. Funded by Julia and Yuri Milner as part of the Giving Pledge, which they joined in 2012, the Breakthrough Prize Foundation hosts this annual competition, which attracts students from around the world, who create videos of up to 90 seconds that teach others about a scientific topic of their choosing. Young people are often good at explaining ideas to other people of their age, so this competition is a great way to help high school students learn from each other.
Every year, the Breakthrough Prize Foundation announces Breakthrough Junior Challenge champions from seven regions: North America, Central, and South America, Asia, India, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Australia, and New Zealand.
· Michael Nixon (2021), whose video explains what cosmic microwave background is and how this invisible microwave signal that comes from all directions in space came into being 13 billion years ago.
· Wangari Mbuthia (2021), whose video explains genetic inheritance by zooming in on different types of alleles and detailing how these alleles impact the odds of inheritance. She goes on to explain how genetic inheritance can affect and even eradicate species, discussing the ethical questions that surround this.
· Ana Calina (2020), whose video explains the unique qualities of different sounds based on different frequencies. She discusses the harmonic series to explain why different instruments have different timbres.
Young people aged 13-18 can enter the Breakthrough Junior Challenge by crafting original videos in English that thoroughly explain any subject matter relating to life sciences, physics, or mathematics. Applicants should make their videos as inventive as possible, making use of dynamic visual mediums like animations, simulations, diagrams, physical demonstrations, and dramatic reconstructions.
After entrants have taken part in a Peer-to-Peer Review where they assess at least five videos, the judges whittle the entry list down to a shortlist of 75 candidates across all regions. The judges assess each student’s ability to communicate complicated scientific ideas in creative, clear, informative ways. Applicants should aim to meet the following judging criteria.
· Engagement: The video should capture the viewer’s interest and make them want to watch until the end.
· Illumination: The video should clearly explain the subject matter so viewers can understand a concept that is otherwise difficult to grasp. The video should explore this topic in detail.
· Creativity: The video should adopt an innovative, original approach to explore the subject matter.
· Difficulty: The video should tackle a challenging subject, i.e., a subject that is usually taught at the high school level or beyond.
Once the judges have finalized a shortlist of up to 30 video entries for each of its 7 regions, the public takes to social media to take part in the competition’s Popular Vote. This year, the Popular Vote opened between September 5-20, and viewers voted for their favorite videos by leaving positive reactions on the original Breakthrough Facebook page posts and likes on the Breakthrough YouTube channel.
The video that received the most positive engagement from each region has moved straight into the final phase of judging, in which the panel assesses the Popular Vote winners against up to five other entrants’ videos. The winner will be announced in November 2022.
The Breakthrough Junior Challenge is part of the Breakthrough Prize Foundation, which Yuri Milner and his wife Julia funded as part of their Giving Pledge. Introduced by Warren Buffet and Bill and Melinda Gates, the Giving Pledge provides philanthropists with an opportunity to leave a large portion of their wealth to a charitable cause, either during their lifetimes or after they have passed away.