The Breakthrough Junior Challenge has revealed its 15 finalists for 2023. These students’ short, original videos illustrate concepts and theories in math, physics, or the life sciences. The global video competition will soon announce a winner, who will receive a $250,000 scholarship prize. The winner’s teacher and school will also receive major prizes.
Yuri Milner is the founder of the Breakthrough Junior Challenge. The Giving Pledge signatory has also launched Tech For Refugees, the Breakthrough Initiatives, and the Breakthrough Prize. You can read some of his ideas about humanity and science in Eureka Manifesto (2021). Eureka Manifesto is available to read, download, or listen to for free online.
The Breakthrough Junior Challenge Selection Process
More than 2,400 teenagers entered the 2023 Breakthrough Junior Challenge. Two rounds of judging — the mandatory Peer-to-Peer Review and an Evaluation Panel of judges — narrowed the submissions down to 30. These 30 semifinalists then entered the Popular Vote. The 16-day Popular Vote invited the public to vote for the videos they liked best.
A Selection Committee will now consider the 15 finalists’ videos and choose an overall winner. Former CNN space and science correspondent Rachel Crane, NASA astronaut Nicole Stott, and ResearchGate CEO and Co-Founder Ijad Madisch are some of the Selection Committee members.
The 2023 Finalists’ Varied Video Topics
Past Breakthrough Junior Challenge champions include Noor Haideri, Maryam Tsegaye, and Jeffery Chen. The teens’ winning videos explained subjects like quantum tunneling, neutrino astronomy, and the relationship between light and our sleep cycle.
This year’s finalists have also tackled some tricky topics. 16-year-old Himanshu Jangid’s video deciphers CRISPR gene editing, which uses an enzyme to edit DNA sequences. 17-year-old Noelle Nelson’s video explores epigenetics and the theory of nature vs. nurture.
Here are three more of the varied topics the 2023 finalists have illuminated in their creative videos.
How Neural Networks Help Machines Learn
17-year-old Pedro Aguilar, from Mexico, made machine learning and neural networks the subject of his video. He explains how CAPTCHA tests and calculus functions help computers learn to identify images.
Google harnesses the human effort spent in solving CAPTCHA tests to build machine-learning datasets, digitize text, and more.
16-year-old Alyssa, from the United States, created a fully animated video that delves into the subject of myoelectric prosthetics. Using electrodes, doctors can connect the electric signals from a person’s nervous system to their prosthetic.
With help from pattern recognition algorithms, users can train their prosthetics to respond with greater sensitivity.
Putting Bad Genes to Good Use
17-year-old Arjun Gurjar, from the United States, expounds retroviruses and transposons in his video. A retrovirus can insert a DNA copy of its RNA genome into the DNA of a host cell that it invades. Transposons are genes that can move around in our genome. By harnessing these concepts, scientists can cure diseases with modified viruses.
The 2023 Popular Vote Top Scorer and Regional Champions
This year’s group of 15 finalists includes the Popular Vote top scorer. 16-year-old Hans de los Santos from the United States received more than 8,000 likes for his video about antimatter.
The competition also named seven Popular Vote regional champions, including 15-year-old Jasmine Eyal. Hailing from the Czech Republic, Jasmine is Europe’s 2023 Popular Vote regional champion. Her video looks into the mechanics and possibilities of quantum navigation.
About Yuri Milner’s Breakthrough Foundation
Yuri Milner’s Breakthrough Foundation is a charitable organization dedicated to:
- Advancing knowledge of the fundamental sciences.
- Celebrating scientists and mathematicians.
- Inspiring future generations with scientific ideas.
- Improving people’s lives through technology.
Yuri Milner established the Breakthrough Foundation to follow through on his Giving Pledge. The Foundation’s programs include the Breakthrough Prize, the Breakthrough Initiatives, and Tech For Refugees.
- The Breakthrough Prize recognizes the world’s leading researchers in math, the life sciences, and fundamental physics.
- The Breakthrough Initiatives are a suite of space science programs searching for answers to the deepest questions of life in the Universe.
- Tech For Refugees funds the humanitarian efforts of organizations that use their networks, resources, and expertise in technology to help refugees.
The Breakthrough Foundation has also committed $2.5 million to support a new outreach center at CERN.