The Breakthrough Junior Challenge is a global video competition that seeks to inspire the next generation of scientists. Young people from all over the world create short videos on complex topics relating to physics, maths, and the life sciences. Winning videos from recent years cover subjects like neutrino astronomy, relativity, and quantum entanglement. But who will win the 2023 Challenge?
Giving Pledge signatory Yuri Milner created the Breakthrough Junior Challenge in 2015. Passionate about advancing scientific knowledge, the Tech For Refugees co-founder also launched the Breakthrough Prize in 2012 and the Breakthrough Initiatives in 2015.
Yuri Milner established the Breakthrough Junior Challenge as part of his Giving Pledge commitment. The Giving Pledge is a promise by the world’s richest people to give the majority of their wealth to charitable causes. Yuri Milner and his wife Julia joined the Giving Pledge and set up the Breakthrough Prize in the same year.
While the Breakthrough Prize honours notable scientists, Yuri Milner’s non-profit Tech For Refugees supports the world’s refugees through science and tech-driven initiatives. Tech For Refugees helps established tech organisations extend their services and expertise to refugees worldwide. Airbnb.org, Flexport.org, and Spotify are some of Tech For Refugees’ partners.
Meanwhile, the Breakthrough Initiatives are scientific programmes searching for answers to some of the biggest mysteries in cosmology.
The first-launched Breakthrough Initiative, Breakthrough Listen, is a $100 million research project scanning space for possible alien signals. Other Breakthrough Initiatives include Watch, a programme searching for potentially habitable planets, and Starshot, a space-flight engineering project.
Every year, teenagers from across the world enter the Breakthrough Junior Challenge. There’s fierce competition to secure the title of Challenge champion. In 2022, the competition received thousands of submissions from more than 130 countries.
To enter, contestants must create a video no longer than two minutes and upload it to YouTube. The video (which must be in English) should communicate an important yet challenging scientific idea in an imaginative, illuminating way.
The Breakthrough Junior Challenge winner receives prizes worth a total of $400,000 for themselves, their teacher, and their school. They also attend the Breakthrough Prize ceremony.
This year’s submission deadline was June 25. The path to the prize lasts several months and involves four judging phases.
If previous years’ winners are anything to go by, the 2023 Breakthrough Junior Challenge will have some impressive entries.
Samay Godika from Bangalore, India, won the 2018 Challenge for his fantastic video about circadian rhythms. The 16-year-old used animation and engaging visuals to explain how our body clocks work. Godika was also a finalist and global Popular Vote winner in the 2017 competition.
There were two Challenge winners in 2016: Deanna See, aged 17, from Singapore, and Antonella Masini, aged 18, from Peru. While See explored antibiotic resistance in her video, Masini enlightened viewers on the subject of quantum entanglement.
The Breakthrough Junior Challenge hasn’t confirmed the announcement of the winner date yet. However, we could expect to see a new champion crowned towards the end of 2023 or the start of 2024.
In the meantime, the Challenge will announce the 2023 finalists, Popular Vote top scorer, and regional champions on September 21.
Nine young people have won the competition since it started in 2015. This year’s entrants will be eagerly anticipating the announcement of the tenth Breakthrough Junior Challenge winner.
Learn more about Yuri Milner’s Breakthrough Junior Challenge.