The Breakthrough Prize Foundation today announced the top finalists in the fourth annual Breakthrough Junior Challenge, a group of 15 impressive students from around the world, as well as the recent top scorer of the online ‘Popular Vote’ portion of the global competition.
The finalists are: Ayesha Ahmed, 18, (Australia); Jason Chen, 15 (United States); Sam Cryan, 18 (United States); Victor Elgersma, 18 (Belgium); Samay Godika, 16 (India); Artem Kirsanov, 17 (Russia); Diogo Afonso Leitão, 16 (Brazil); Luciana Lozano, 14 (Mexico); Srishti Mishra, 17 (Cambodia); Adelyn Moore, 17 (United States); Kavya Negi, 18 (India); HP Park, 16 (Republic of Korea); Grace Patenaude, 15 (United States); Avideep Pradhan, 17 (United States); Nikhiya Shamsher, 16 (India); and Matthew Walak, 18 (United States).
About Indian Finalists:
- Samay Godika, 16, of Bangalore is currently a student at the National Public School Koramangala in Bangalore and is passionate about studying life sciences and entrepreneurship. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_iPCUgmi0g
- Nikhiya Shamsher, 16, of Bangalore is currently a student at Greenwood High International School in Bangalore with a passion for theoretical physics and math. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzCrluiw9jg
- Kavya, 18, of Delhi is currently a student at ASN Senior Secondary School in Delhi. She says she loves physics. Her passion for the subject grew out of watching documentaries, specifically “Stephen Hawking: Master of the Universe,” which she first watched at the age of 13. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xumNsxtUPLI
All videos can be viewed at https://breakthroughjuniorchallenge.org/
Nikhiya Shamsher, 16 (India) was the top scorer in the Popular Vote contest with more than 25,000 likes, shares and positive reactions for her video on spacetime and gravity posted on the Breakthrough Facebook page. Shamsher will receive automatic entry into the final round of judging.
One of the 16 entrants will be announced the winner of the 2018 Breakthrough Junior Challenge on the Breakthrough Facebook page, live from the 2018 Breakthrough Prize ceremony in Silicon Valley on Sunday, November 4.
The winner of the Breakthrough Junior Challenge will be awarded a $250,000 college scholarship. The science teacher who inspired the winning student will win a $50,000 prize. The winner’s school will also receive a state-of-the-art science lab valued at $100,000.
Additionally, Popular Vote Regional Champions were also named for each of the seven geographic regions. They are: Ayesha Ahmed, 18, Australia (Australia/Oceania; Edgar Baudry, 16, France (Europe); Jean-Paul Khairallah, 18, Lebanon (Middle East/Africa); Luciana Lozano, 14, Mexico (Central America, Mexico, Caribbean, South America); Artem Kirsanov, 17, Russia (Asia); Sam Rothfarb, 16, United States (North America); and Nikhiya Shamsher, 16, India (India).
The Popular Vote contest ran from September 7 to September 20 at 11:59 PM PDT on the Breakthrough Prize Facebook page, and invited the public to vote for their favorite semifinalist submission by “liking,” “sharing,” or posting a positive reaction.
Since its launch, the Breakthrough Junior Challenge has reached 190 countries, and the 2018 installment of the global competition attracted more than 12,000 registrants. The contest is designed to inspire creative thinking about fundamental concepts in the life sciences, physics, and mathematics. The field was reduced to 29 semifinalists, which represented the top submissions after two rounds of judging: first, a mandatory peer review, followed by an evaluation panel of judges.
The 15 finalist videos were chosen by the Selection Committee, comprising: Salman Khan, CEO, Founder, Khan Academy; author and educator Lucy Hawking; Mae Jemison, science literacy expert, former astronaut, and Principal, 100 Year Starship; retired NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly; Nima Arkani-Hamed, Professor of Physics, Institute for Advanced Study and Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics Laureate; Rachel Crane, Space and Science Correspondent, CNN; Huda Zoghbi, Professor of Pediatrics and professor of Neuroscience and Molecular and Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine and Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences Laureate; Ijad Madisch, CEO, Co-Founder, ResearchGate; Pete Worden, Chairman, Breakthrough Prize Foundation, Executive Director, Breakthrough Starshot; Esther Wojcicki, Founder, Palo Alto High Media Arts Center; and Terence Tao, Professor of Mathematics, UCLA and Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics Laureate.
For the fourth year, students ages 13-18 were invited to create original videos (up to three minutes in length) that illustrated a concept or theory in the life sciences, physics or mathematics. The submissions were evaluated on the students’ ability to communicate complex scientific ideas in the most engaging, illuminating, and imaginative ways.
Breakthrough Junior Challenge is a global initiative to develop and demonstrate young people’s knowledge of science and scientific principles; generate excitement in these fields; support STEM career choices; and engage the imagination and interest of the public-at-large in key concepts of fundamental science.