The Breakthrough Junior Challenge is a video competition that was created by Yuri Milner as part of his Giving Pledge. The competition, which takes place every year, allows young adults between the ages of 13 and 18 to submit a short video that brings to life a concept or theory in the life sciences, physics, or mathematics field. Each year, the Breakthrough Junior Challenge announces multiple regional champions from the following regions:
- Central / South America
- North America
- Australia / New Zealand
- Middle East / Africa
Keep reading to learn more about some of the winners from the past three years and the projects that they submitted as part of the Breakthrough Junior Challenge.
‘Hacking Inheritence: Gene Drives Explained’ by Wangari Mbuthia
In 2021, the winner of the popular vote regional champions for the Middle East and African regions was 18-year-old Wangari Mbuthia of South Africa. Her challenge, which was named “Hacking Inheritence: Gene Drives Explained,” explained how traits in humans could be passed down through genes. She took things a step further when she explored the world of selfish genetic inheritance. This explains why some traits are more dominant than others and how one person could end up with specific traits.
‘Cosmic Microwave Background: Our Invisible Past’ by Michael Nixon
In 2021, the winner of the popular vote regional champion for the Australian and New Zealand region was 18-year-old Michael Nixon of Australia. His challenge, which was named “Cosmic Microwave Background: Our Invisible Past,” took a look at how signals get to our television. This signal called the “cosmic microwave background,” or “CMB,” is what is responsible for the signals that allow us to watch television. His project explored how the signals were created and what they meant for us in the past and what it means for our future.
‘Fourier Analysis: Timbre’ by Ana Calina
In 2020, the winner of the popular vote regional champions for the Europe region was 17-year-old Ana Calina of Romania. Her challenge, which was named “Fourier Analysis: Timbre,” took a look at instruments. Most people know that instruments make different sounds, and many of these instruments have a sound that most people can recognizably distinguish from other instruments. Wavelengths are the reason for this, and her project took a look at the science and math behind different types of wavelengths.
‘What Is Music?’ by Navya Sinha
In 2020, the winner of the popular vote regional champions for the North America region was 17-year-old Navya Sinha of the United States. Her challenge, which was named “What Is Music?” explored what music is and how music is a collection of sound waves. She then explored why different sounds or songs can elicit different reactions in people, with some types of music being soothing, while others may not be as soothing.
‘Fate of the Universe’ by Aldrean Alogon
In 2019, the winner of the popular vote regional champions for the Asian region was 18-year-old Aldrean Paul Alogon of the Philippines. His challenge, which was named “Fate of the Universe,” described the momentum of expansion theory. The momentum of expansion explains why planets are drifting farther away from Earth, even though Earth is not the center of the solar system. He also explored how this expansion may ultimately affect the fate of Earth and the universe.
Yuri Milner created the Breakthrough Junior Challenge as part of his Giving Pledge to support science and encourage the next generation to be inspired by it. He considers it very important that young adults explore the world of science and math and the fundamental concepts come to life for them.