Entrants who have been successful in the first three judging rounds of Yuri Milner’s global Breakthrough Junior Challenge are now awaiting the November Champion announcement. These teenagers, from 7 worldwide regions, have each created and entered a video of up to 90 seconds that explains a concept in the life sciences, physics, or mathematics. Young people often excel when it comes to explaining ideas to their peers, and this competition gives them the chance to share their knowledge with other young people around the world.
Julia and Yuri Milner fund the Challenge to fulfill their Giving Pledge. The couple joined the Giving Pledge to commit at least half of their combined lifetime wealth to the development of the Breakthrough Prize, the Breakthrough Junior Challenge, the Breakthrough Initiatives, and other science-related research and development.
The Breakthrough Foundation organizes these and benefits hugely from the funding, which allows it to pursue its aims of raising the profile of scientists, bringing big science questions into public consciousness, and inspiring young people with scientific ideas. The last of these aims are central to the Breakthrough Junior Challenge.
The Breakthrough Junior Challenge Judging Process
The judging process for the Breakthrough Junior Challenge comprises four stages.
- First, entrants engage in the Peer-to-Peer Review. They must review at least 5 of their fellow competitors’ videos to select the top 75.
- Next up is the Evaluation Panel Review. Judges assess the 75 video entries based on four criteria: creativity, difficulty, engagement, and illumination.
- The third stage is the Popular Vote. At this point, the public gets involved in the judging process, voting for their favorite videos on the Breakthrough Junior Challenge YouTube and Facebook pages. The entrant who generates the most positive social media interactions automatically gains a place in the contest final, allowing them to skip the final selection phase.
- Finally, the judges select their top five entries during the Selection Committee Review. They then choose between these five entries and the Popular Vote winning entry to decide who will become the Champion.
The 2022 Popular Vote has now finished, and the Selection Committee Review is underway.
Breakthrough Junior Challenge Regional Champions and Winners
Every year, the Breakthrough Junior Challenge announces regional champions from Asia, Central and South America, North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, India, and the Middle East and Africa. This year, finalists include:
- Noor Abbas Haideri, in her video, discusses melanopsin and intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs) and their roles in the sleep-wake cycle.
- Weber Lin, who discusses chirality, an object or molecule that we can’t superimpose onto its mirror image by translocations or rotations, explaining its widespread applications.
- Aryan Malhotra, discusses the possibility of reverse time/time travel by explaining special relativity, the physics theory about the relationship between space and time.
Breakthrough Junior Challenge Prizes
The 2022 Breakthrough Junior Challenge judges have, so far, whittled the shortlist down to the top 16 entrants. The winner of the Challenge will receive three highly sought-after prizes. Much like financial offerings up for grabs in the Breakthrough Prize, the Breakthrough Junior Challenge prizes are impressive: a $250,000 college scholarship, $50,000 for the teacher who inspired them, and a $100,000 science lab building at their school.
Julia and Yuri Milner’s Commitment to Future Scientists
Through their Giving Pledge and the Breakthrough Foundation, Julia and Yuri Milner continue to encourage the next generation of scientific minds. Their initiatives include the Breakthrough Junior Challenge, their suite of Breakthrough Initiatives, and the Breakthrough Prize. The Breakthrough Prize is the largest science award in existence, which celebrates scientists who have made cutting-edge developments in their research and practices.