Breakthrough Junior Challenge Announces 2023 Finalists
Fifteen Student Finalists Will Continue in the Ninth Annual Global Science Challenge.
SAN FRANCISCO – Sept. 21, 2023 – The Breakthrough Prize Foundation today announced the Finalists for the ninth annual Breakthrough Junior Challenge – 15 remarkable students from around the world who created short videos illustrating major science concepts in the areas of life sciences, physics, and mathematics.
This group includes the top scorer of the online ‘Popular Vote’ portion of the global competition, which accounts for voting from the public.
The finalists are:
- Pedro Aguilar, 17, Mexico
- Alyssa Childress, 16, United States
- Sia Godika, 17, India
- Arjun Gurjar, 17, United States
- Cheng-You Ho, 16, Taiwan
- Himanshu Jangid, 16, United States
- Noelle Nelson, 17, United States
- Bayanni Rivera, 18, United States
- Hans de los Santos, 16, United States
- Conner Sisemore, 17, United States
- Ishanth Srinivas, 17, United States
- Sophia Tran, 16, United States
- Honjar Xing, 16, Canada
- Adora Yin, 15, Hong Kong
- Isaac Zhang, 18, United States
All videos can be viewed at breakthroughjuniorchallenge.org/winners.
Hans de los Santos, 16, of the United States, was the overall top scorer in the Popular Vote contest with more than 8,000 likes for his video “The Power of Antimatter”. As a result, Hans will receive automatic entry into the final round of judging that determines the winner of the Breakthrough Junior Challenge.
The winner of the Breakthrough Junior Challenge will be awarded a $250,000 college scholarship. The science teacher who inspired the winning student will also win a $50,000 prize and the winner’s school will receive a state-of-the-art science lab valued at $100,000.
Additionally, Popular Vote Regional Champions were named for each of the seven geographic regions. They are:
- Jasmine Eyal, 15, Czech Republic (Europe)
- Sia Godika, 17, India (India)
- Cheng-You Ho, 16, Taiwan (Asia)
- Brandon Kwok, 16, Australia (Australia / New Zealand)
- Jeffrin Mario, 17, United Arab Emirates (Middle East / Africa)
- Rupali Mishra, 17, Brazil, (Central / South America)
- Hans de los Santos, 16, United States (North America)
The Popular Vote contest ran from September 5 to September 20 on the Breakthrough Prize Facebook and YouTube pages, and invited the public to vote for their favorite semifinalists by “liking” the videos. Collectively, during the 16-day contest, the 30 videos reached more than 500,000 people, helping to teach and inspire minds across the globe.
This year the Breakthrough Junior Challenge attracted more than 2,400 applicants. Since its launch in 2015, the Challenge has received 25,000 submissions from more than 200 countries. Submissions were narrowed down to 30 semifinalists, which represented the top submissions after two rounds of judging: first, a mandatory peer review, followed by an evaluation panel of judges.
Past Breakthrough Junior Challenge winners have hailed from Canada, India, Mauritius, Peru, the Philippines, Singapore, and the United States.
The finalist videos will be reviewed by the Selection Committee, comprising of: Ian Agol, professor of mathematics, University of California, Berkeley, and Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics laureate; Rachel Crane, former space and science correspondent, CNN; Pascale Ehrenfreund, PhD, president, Committee on Space Research COSPAR; John Grunsfeld, PhD, NASA astronaut and administrator; Mae Jemison, science literacy expert, former astronaut, and principal, 100 Year Starship; Jeffrey W. Kelly, professor of chemistry, Scripps Research Institute; Scott Kelly, retired NASA astronaut; Salman Khan, founder and CEO, Khan Academy; Ijad Madisch, CEO, co-founder, ResearchGate; Nicole Stott, NASA astronaut; Andrew Strominger, professor of physics, Harvard University; Terence Tao, UCLA professor and Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics laureate; Esther Wojcicki, founder, Palo Alto High Media Arts Center; Pete Worden, chairman, Breakthrough Prize Foundation and executive director, Breakthrough StarShot.
For the ninth year, students ages 13-18 were invited to create original videos (up to two minutes in length) that illustrated a concept or theory in the area of life sciences, physics or mathematics. The submissions were evaluated based on the students’ ability to communicate complex scientific ideas in the most engaging, illuminating and imaginative ways.
The 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. Submissions are judged on the student’s ability to communicate complex scientific ideas in engaging, illuminating and imaginative ways.
The Breakthrough Junior Challenge
The Breakthrough Junior Challenge, founded by Yuri and Julia Milner, is a global science video competition, aiming 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.
The Breakthrough Prize
For the 12th year, the Breakthrough Prize, renowned as the “Oscars® of Science,” recognizes the world’s top scientists. Each prize is $3 million and presented in the fields of Life Sciences, Fundamental Physics and Mathematics. In addition, up to three New Horizons in Physics Prizes, up to three New Horizons in Mathematics Prizes and up to three Maryam Mirzakhani New Frontiers Prizes are given out to early-career researchers each year. Laureates attend a gala award ceremony designed to celebrate their achievements and inspire the next generation of scientists.
The Breakthrough Prizes were founded by Sergey Brin, Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg, Julia and Yuri Milner, and Anne Wojcicki and have been sponsored by foundations established by them. Selection Committees composed of previous Breakthrough Prize laureates in each field choose the winners. Information on the Breakthrough Prize is available at breakthroughprize.org.
Khan Academy is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with the mission of providing a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere. Our platform includes more than 70,000 practice problems as well as videos and articles that cover a range of K-12 subjects. Khan Academy allows students to learn key concepts at a pace that’s right for them before moving on to more challenging content. We partner with school districts across the country and around the world that serve students who are historically under-resourced. In the United States, school districts use Khan Academy Districts and MAP Accelerator to help teachers differentiate instruction. Khan Academy Kids is an award-winning free app for children ages two to eight. Nearly 20 million learners use Khan Academy every month in 190 countries and 50 languages. As a nonprofit, Khan Academy relies on donations from foundations, corporations and individuals around the world, as well as earned revenue. For more information, please see research findings about Khan Academy and our press page.
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL)
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.
For more information, including competition rules, video submission guidelines and queries, go to: breakthroughjuniorchallenge.org.
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Kristen Bothwell, firstname.lastname@example.org