The 2022 Breakthrough Junior Challenge is approaching the last selection stage, in which judges will select the winner of Yuri Milner’s video-based science competition for high school students. Yuri Milner, who is also the founder of the esteemed Breakthrough Prize, and his wife Julia donate to the Challenge as part of their Giving Pledge. The competition runs annually and inspires young people aged 13-18 to share their scientific interests with peers from all over the world. The competition welcomes videos of 90 seconds that cover any topic from three fields: life sciences, physics, or mathematics.
Breakthrough Junior Challenge Aims
Julia and Yuri Milner launched the Breakthrough Junior Challenge in 2015 following their success with the Breakthrough Prize. Through this Challenge, young people demonstrate their ability to explain scientific concepts to their peers in imaginative but relatable ways.
How the Judging Process Works
Competitors must progress through four selection stages. These include the Peer-to-Peer Review, the Evaluation Panel Review, the Popular Vote, and the Selection Committee Review.
The first stage calls for participants to review a minimum of five videos by their fellow contestants. The second stage sees judges review the 75 videos that progressed through the first stage. Judges assess the videos based on their creativity, difficulty, engagement, and illumination.
The next stage opens the selection process to the public, who watch and vote for their favorite video on YouTube or Facebook. There are seven Popular Vote winners to represent the seven regions from which young people are eligible to take part in the Challenge. The overall Popular Vote winner gains a place in the final, bypassing the last selection stage. The judges then choose a further five contestants to progress to the final.
The Challenge is currently in the Selection Committee Review stage, and judges will name the winner in November.
Challenge Prizes Worth a Total of $400K
The Breakthrough Junior Challenge winner will receive prizes totaling $400,000. These include a $250,000 post-secondary scholarship for the winner, a $50,000 prize for the winning student’s teacher, and the installation of a science lab worth $100,000 at the winner’s school.
The Current Finalists
There are currently 23 finalists: 7 regional Popular Vote winners and the remaining 16, which the Selection Committee Review will reduce to 5. Finalists are from Croatia, Iraq, the Philippines, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, and the USA.
The overall Popular Vote winner for 2022 is Ema Donev from Croatia for her video on life and entropy. Fellow regional Popular Vote winners include Abel Dagne, North America; Aditya Kumar, South Africa; Arnav Sawant, India; Jasmine Glennie, New Zealand; Josefina Vivanco Forster, Chile; and Kyle Christian Cloma, the Philippines.
Supporting the Challenge’s Vision
By sharing their passion for science, participants learn from one another, developing their education and, ultimately, science itself. This is part of the ongoing vision that Yuri Milner and Julia envisaged for the Breakthrough Junior Challenge and the Breakthrough Prize when deciding to fund scientific causes in their Giving Pledge.