Breakthrough Prize and Khan Academy Announce "Breakthrough Junior Challenge" for Students

SEPTEMBER 14, 2015 (San Francisco) – The Breakthrough Prize and Khan Academy are joining forces to launch the Breakthrough Junior Challenge, an annual, global competition for science and math students to inspire creative thinking about fundamental concepts in the life sciences, physics or mathematics.

“This project is about unleashing young people’s capacity for fresh thinking and inspiring a new generation of scientists. We want to encourage students from around the world to share complex ideas with their peers,” said Breakthrough Prize co-founder Dr. Priscilla Chan.

Students ages 13 -to-18 from countries across the globe are invited to create original videos (up to 10 minutes in length) that bring to life a concept or theory in the life sciences, physics or mathematics. The submissions will be judged on the student’s ability to communicate complex scientific ideas in the most engaging, illuminating, and imaginative ways. The deadline for submissions is October 7, 2015.

Students must register to participate at

One winner will be recognized and will be awarded a $250,000 scholarship. The teacher who inspired the winning student will win $50,000. The winner’s school can also receive a state-of-the art science lab valued at $100,000.

The Breakthrough Junior Challenge winner will also be invited to the Breakthrough Prize awards ceremony in Silicon Valley, where he or she will get to meet with giants of science, technology, media and the arts. The winning student and his or her teacher will be announced and the winning film will be presented during the live, nationally televised show, broadcast in the US by National Geographic Channel on Sunday, November 8 at 7.00pm PT, 10.00pm ET, and rebroadcast globally via National Geographic and the Fox Cable Networks.

"Breakthroughs in science and math often start with a new way of seeing things. The goal of this prize is to inspire young people to explain big ideas in math and science in new and novel ways, possibly opening all of our minds to the mysteries of the universe and leading to the breakthroughs of the future!" said Khan Academy founder Salman Khan.

In addition to creating and producing their own video entries, students will have the opportunity to participate in the peer-to-peer scoring of fellow students’ submissions. The short-listed video submissions will be reviewed by Breakthrough Prize laureates and other leaders in science, technology, and education from Khan Academy.

"I love the way that the Breakthrough Junior Challenge gives young people worldwide a creative, scientific mission, asking them to share their understanding, research and vision with others. Who better to explain and illuminate difficult ideas and concepts to young people than their peers? I'm very honored to join the judging panel," said Breakthrough Junior Challenge judge, author and educator Lucy Hawking.

Breakthrough Junior Challenge is funded by Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, and Yuri and Julia Milner, through the Breakthrough Prize Foundation, based on a grant from Mark Zuckerberg’s fund at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation and a grant from Milner Global Foundation.

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.

The Breakthrough Prize

Founded in 2012 by Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki, Jack Ma and Cathy Zhang, Yuri and Julia Milner, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, the Breakthrough Prize is an annual award honoring outstanding achievements in life sciences, physics and mathematics. The prize aims to celebrate scientists and generate excitement about the pursuit of science as a career. Laureates of each prize are chosen by the respective Selection Committee comprised of previous recipients of the prize. In November 2014, two of its founders, Yuri Milner and Mark Zuckerberg, announced the New Horizons in Mathematics Prize for up-and-coming mathematicians, to run alongside the existing New Horizons in Physics Prize.

For more information on the Breakthrough Prizes:

Khan Academy

Khan Academy is a 501(c)3 nonprofit with a mission to change education for the better by providing a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere. We believe that students of all ages should have free, unlimited access to the best educational content, and that they should be able to consume and master this content at their own pace. In addition, we believe that there are incredible opportunities to use intelligent software development, deep data analytics, and intuitive user interfaces to more effectively surface and present these educational resources to students and teachers around the world. Our library of content covers kindergarten to early college math, science topics such as biology, chemistry, and physics, and reaches into humanities with tutorials on economics, finance, music, philosophy, and art history. We have over 26 million registered students and to date, we have delivered over 580 million lessons and 3.8 billion exercise problems.

For further information, visit


The Breakthrough Prize Lab for the winning student’s school is designed by and in partnership with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL). CSHL has shaped contemporary biomedical research and education and is home to more than 600 researchers and technicians. The Laboratory’s education arm also includes an academic publishing house, a graduate school and programs for middle and high school students and teachers.

The Breakthrough Junior Challenge has also partnered with Facebook, Google Science Fair and Google for Education, and National Geographic to help reach science and math enthusiasts, educators, and students around the globe. The National Geographic Channels US are a joint venture between National Geographic and Fox Cable Networks. The Channels contribute to the National Geographic Society's commitment to exploration, conservation and education with smart, innovative programming and profits that directly support its mission.


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

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