Breakthrough Prize Announces Winner Of Fourth Annual Breakthrough Junior Challenge
Samay Godika, 16 (India), Receives Top Honors and $400,000 in Educational Prizes for Original Videos Bringing Science Concepts to Life.
(November 4, 2018 – San Francisco) – The Breakthrough Prize today announced Samay Godika, 16, a Boston native who now lives in India, as the winner of the fourth annual Breakthrough Junior Challenge, a global science video competition designed to inspire creative thinking about fundamental concepts in the life sciences, physics, and mathematics.
As the winner, Samay will receive $400,000 in educational prizes for himself, his teacher and his school. Currently a junior at National Public School-Koramangala in Bangalore, Samay will receive a $250,000 college scholarship. His ninth and tenth grade science teacher, Pramila Menon, who encouraged his interest in life sciences and tutored him after school to encourage his curiosity about scientific ideas, will win a $50,000 prize. Additionally, his school will receive a state-of-the-art science lab valued at $100,000.
Samay’s video, submitted in the life sciences category, focused on circadian rhythms, the 24-hour biological processes that can affect simple daily experiences such as waking up for school or jet lag. Because he has family members who suffer from Parkinson’s and other neurological diseases, Samay is particularly interested in the correlation between circadian rhythms and the effectiveness of medical treatments.
Samay will be recognized tonight alongside some of the world’s top scientists and mathematicians as they are awarded the world’s most generous science prize, the Breakthrough Prize. The ceremony will be broadcast live on Nat Geo at 10 p.m. EST and 7 p.m. PST and livestreamed on the Facebook and YouTube platforms of National Geographic (National Geographic Facebook | National Geographic YouTube) and Breakthrough Prize (Breakthrough Facebook | Breakthrough YouTube). The ceremony will be hosted by actor, producer and philanthropist Pierce Brosnan. Expected celebrity guests include performer Lionel Richie, presenters Orlando Bloom, Ron Howard, Rachel McAdams, Julianne Moore, Thandie Newton, Lupita Nyong’o, and G.E.M.
“Participating in and now winning the Breakthrough Junior Challenge is life-changing, thrilling and such an honor,” Samay said. “I’m so grateful for this opportunity to be recognized alongside so many of the world’s top scientists and tech industry leaders.”
All of the videos made by the Breakthrough Junior Challenge finalists were of such quality that they have been added to Khan Academy’s website as teaching tutorials for the world in math and science.
This is the fourth consecutive year in which students ages 13-18 were invited to create original videos (up to three minutes in length) that illustrated a concept or theory in the physical or life sciences. The submissions were evaluated on the students’ ability to communicate complex scientific ideas in the most engaging, illuminating, and imaginative ways.
Students from around the globe submitted their videos by July 1, 2018. The field was narrowed to 29 semifinalists who competed in the Popular Vote contest in September on the Breakthrough Prize Facebook page, where the public was invited to vote for their favorite semifinalist submission by “liking,” “sharing,” or posting a positive reaction.
This year’s Popular Vote winner was Nikhiya Shamsher, 16 (also of India), whose video on spacetime and gravity garnered more than 25,000 likes, shares and positive reactions on the Breakthrough Facebook page. Nikhiya received automatic entry into the final round of judging. Last year, Samay won the Popular Vote contest.
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 2018 Selection Committee included 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.
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.
For the seventh year, the Breakthrough Prizes will recognize the world’s top scientists. Each prize is $3 million and presented in the fields of Life Sciences (up to four per year), Fundamental Physics (one per year) and Mathematics (one per year). In addition, up to three New Horizons in Physics and up to three New Horizons in Mathematics Prizes are given out to junior researchers each year. Laureates attend a live televised award ceremony designed to celebrate their achievements and inspire the next generation of scientists. As part of the ceremony schedule, they also engage in a program of lectures and discussions. Selection Committees composed of previous Breakthrough Prize laureates in each field choose the winners.
About 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 khanacademy.org, 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 www.cshl.edu.
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 natgeotv.com or nationalgeographic.com, 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: breakthroughjuniorchallenge.org.