Breakthrough Prize Announces Student Semifinalists In Fourth Annual Breakthrough Junior Challenge

All Semifinalist Videos Now Available Online For ‘Popular Vote’ Until Thursday, September 20 at 11:59 PM PT

Public invited to participate in ‘Popular Vote’ contest and support a favorite finalist on the Breakthrough Facebook Page

SEPTEMBER 7, 2018 – (San Francisco) – The Breakthrough Prize today announced the top 29 student semifinalists in the fourth annual Breakthrough Junior Challenge, and kicked off the ‘Popular Vote’ portion of the global competition, posting all videos online on the Breakthrough Facebook page where people from around the world will have a chance to vote for their favorite video in the contest.

The 29 semifinalists represent the top submissions following a review by the Evaluation Panel. The group includes two top-scoring submissions from each of seven geographical regions (see list below) as well as remaining top-scoring videos from the panel’s review. The seven regions are: North America (US / Canada), Central America / Mexico / Caribbean / South America, Europe, Asia (including China), India, Middle East / Africa and Australia / New Zealand.

In total, the 29 semifinalists hail from all around the world, including the United States, France, India, Mexico, Australia, Brazil, Republic of Korea, Lebanon, Belgium, Russian Federation, Cambodia, Saudi Arabia, and New Zealand.

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, or mathematics.

All 29 semifinalists will compete in the ‘Popular Vote’ contest, open until Thursday, September 20 at 11:59 PM PT. The ‘Popular Vote’ contest invites the public to vote for their favorite semifinalist submission on the Breakthrough Facebook page. Votes can be cast by “liking”, “sharing”, or issuing a “positive reaction” to the videos on the official Breakthrough Prize Facebook page.

On Friday, September 21, the 15 finalists and the top scorer in the ‘Popular Vote’ challenge will be revealed. The Popular Vote Top Scorer will receive automatic entry into the finalist round. Additionally, each of the seven geographic regions will have a top-scorer who will be named a Regional Champion.

The 15 top-scoring finalist videos will be reviewed by the Selection Committee, comprised of: Salman Khan, CEO, Founder, Khan Academy; author and educator Lucy Hawking; Dr. 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; Jason Silva, National Geographic Channel Television Host, Filmmaker; 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.

The winner of the Breakthrough Junior Challenge will be announced at the internationally broadcast 2018 Breakthrough Prize ceremony live from Silicon Valley on 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.

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.


Khan Academy

Khan Academy is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with the mission of providing a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere. We use intelligent software, data analytics, and intuitive user interfaces to help students and teachers around the world. Our resources cover math, biology, chemistry, physics, history, economics, finance, grammar, preschool learning, and more. Khan Academy offers free personalized SAT prep in partnership with the College Board. We provide teachers with tools and data so they can help their students develop the skills, habits, and mindsets necessary for success in school and beyond. Khan Academy has been translated into dozens of languages, and 15 million people around the globe learn on Khan Academy each month. For more information, visit, join us on Facebook, or follow us on Instagram or Twitter. And remember, you can learn anything.

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

The Breakthrough Prize Lab for the winning student’s school is designed by and in partnership with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL). Established in 1890, CSHL has shaped contemporary biomedical research and education. Its New York campus boasts 1100 faculty, students and employees and hosts over 12,000 visiting scientists each year for world-renowned conferences and courses. CSHL’s DNA Learning Center is the world’s largest provider of student lab instruction in molecular genetics and teacher training. Materials and methods developed by the DNA Learning Center are accessible for free through more than 20 award-winning educational websites. The Laboratory’s education arm also includes an academic publishing house, a science policy think tank and a graduate program in biological sciences. Visit

National Geographic Partners LLC

National Geographic Partners LLC (NGP), a joint venture between National Geographic and 21st Century Fox, is committed to bringing the world premium science, adventure and exploration content across an unrivaled portfolio of media assets. NGP combines the global National Geographic television channels (National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo WILD, Nat Geo MUNDO, Nat Geo PEOPLE) with National Geographic’s media and consumer-oriented assets, including National Geographic magazines; National Geographic studios; related digital and social media platforms; books; maps; children’s media; and ancillary activities that include travel, global experiences and events, archival sales, licensing and e-commerce businesses. Furthering knowledge and understanding of our world has been the core purpose of National Geographic for 129 years, and now we are committed to going deeper, pushing boundaries, going further for our consumers and reaching millions of people around the world in 172 countries and 43 languages every month as we do it. NGP returns 27 percent of our proceeds to the nonprofit National Geographic Society to fund work in the areas of science, exploration, conservation and education. For more information visit or, or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.


For more information, including competition rules, video submission guidelines and queries, go to:

For press inquiries only, please contact:
Emily Gest, Direct: +1-212-843-8061
Kristen Bothwell, Direct: +1-212-843-9227