Funded by the Giving Pledge, Yuri Milner’s Breakthrough Junior Challenge has returned for 2022, and finalists are now eagerly awaiting the results of the highly competitive challenge. The global competition is for students aged 13-18 and aims to get young people thinking creatively about science and inspiring each other with the theories that interest them.
The Breakthrough Prize Foundation invites entrants to submit videos of no more than 90 seconds that bring a scientific concept to life. Then, competition judges assess how well each entrant communicates complex, scientific ideas in engaging, imaginative ways. Since April 2022, students have been submitting their original videos that illuminate a concept or theory in physics, maths, or the life sciences. The results will be announced this autumn.
The Breakthrough Prize Foundation and Yuri Milner’s Giving Pledge
Each year, Yuri Milner’s Breakthrough Prize Foundation organises the Breakthrough Junior Challenge. Yuri Milner and his wife Julia launched the Foundation as part of their Giving Pledge, through which they have contributed funding to the future of scientific research and discovery and competitions like the Breakthrough Prize and the Breakthrough Junior Challenge.
The Breakthrough Junior Challenge Judging Process
During the first stage of the judging process, entrants take part in a Peer-to-Peer Review, in which they each assess up to five other entrants’ videos. The judges then whittle the submissions down to the top 75 using a scoring system that focuses on four criteria: engagement, illumination, creativity, and difficulty.
The third stage of the judging process sees the public vote for their favourite videos on social media to narrow down the applicants to Regional Champions and Finalists. The video entry with the most likes and engagement across Facebook and YouTube in each region bypasses the next stage of judging (a Selection Committee) and moves straight into the final round of the competition.
The final stage of the judging process involves the Selection Committee choosing additional entries for final consideration alongside the Popular Vote winners. The 2022 Champion will be announced in November.
What the Winner Will Receive
The Breakthrough Junior Challenge Champion will receive three highly sought-after prizes: a $250,000 college scholarship, $50,000 for a teacher who inspired them, and a $100,000 Breakthrough Science Lab for their school.
Sponsorship for the Breakthrough Junior Challenge comes from the Breakthrough Prize Foundation, established by Julia and Yuri Milner in accordance with their Giving Pledge to set aside a large amount of funding for predominantly scientific causes.
Previous Breakthrough Junior Challenge Winners
With entrants from seven regions (Asia, North America, Central, and South America, Australia, New Zealand, the Middle East, Africa, and India), the competition highlights some of the best young, scientific talents in the world.
Staying true to Julia and Yuri Milner’s Giving Pledge, the annual challenge has given incredible opportunities to exceptional young people. Last year, Amber Kwok, aged 18, from Mauritius, won the competition with her video about attractive forces between neutral objects. Gornekk Suwattanapong, aged 17, from Thailand, won the Space Exploration Champion Award with his video that explains the theoretical possibility of time travel through black holes and Einstein’s theory of relativity.
Back in 2020, Maryam Tsegaye, a 17-year-old entrant from Canada, won the challenge with a video about quantum mechanics. In 2019, Jeffery Chen, also 17, from the USA, won the competition with a video about neutrinos, which, as he explained, are also known as “ghost particles.”
While we wait to find out who has won out of this year’s finalists, you can learn more about the Breakthrough Junior Challenge.