In 2015, as part of his commitment to the Giving Pledge, Yuri Milner started what would become a yearly competition known as the Breakthrough Junior Challenge. The Breakthrough Junior Challenge challenged young adults to submit short videos explaining complicated scientific and mathematical principles in a simple, easy-to-understand video. Each year, there is one grand prize winner, as well as winners from different regions around the world. These regions include Asia, Central, and South America, North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, India and the Middle East, and Africa. Here are five young adults from different parts of the globe who have won the award in the past few years.
Abhay Gupta, 16, from India, was the winner of the popular vote for the regional champion in 2021 for the region of India. His challenge entry, which was named “Pharmacokinetics & Bioavailability,” delved into prescription medications. If you have ever taken pain medication, you know the medication works quickly to relieve pain in your body. This video explored the reasons why this is, including how pharmaceutical medications are absorbed by our bodies and why some medications need to be taken more frequently than others.
Evan Ritson, 17, from Spain, was the winner of the popular vote for the regional champion in 2021 for the region of Europe. His challenge entry, which was named “How COVID-19 PCR Testing Works,” explored how a small sample, such as a small swab in your nose or a small bit of saliva, could be used to detect the RNA of the coronavirus COVID-19. This was a well-timed submission, as it explained the testing process many people were going through when the entry was submitted.
Jeff Winxin Collado, 17, from the Philippines, was the winner of the popular vote for the regional champion in 2020 for the Asia region. His challenge entry, which was named “Zoonotic Spillovers,” essentially revolved around animals spreading germs that can make humans sick. Again, the theme was very well-timed, as the world was in a pandemic due to the coronavirus COVID-19, which is believed to have spread from an animal to humans.
Navya Sinha, 17, from the United States, was the winner of the popular vote for the regional champion in 2020 for the North American region. Her challenge entry, which was named “What is Music?”, explored the nature of musical sound. Ultimately, the video showed that music is a collection of sound waves, and these sound waves create different sounds, which creates the different types of musical notes humans can hear.
Taegan Charles, 17, from Australia, was the winner of the popular vote for the regional champion in 2019 for the Australian and New Zealand region. Her challenge entry, which was named “Entropy and Spontaneity!”, delved into the how and why energy spreads as it does. The way energy spreads is responsible for many things, including why drinks get cold and why pans get hot on a stove. Once you understand how energy spreads, you can start to understand combustion and why some elements spontaneously combust.
As part of the commitment he made to the Giving Pledge, Yuri Milner created the Breakthrough Junior Challenge. Yuri Milner has been impressed by the number of amazing submissions the program receives each year, not only those of the winners but everyone who has created a video for this challenge.