2 Filipinos among 30 semifinalists in Breakthrough Junior Challenge

Two Filipino students are among the 30 semifinalists from across the globe in the eighth annual Breakthrough Junior Challenge competition, the Breakthrough Prize Foundation announced.

They are Kyle Cloma, 16, from Mandaluyong City, and Jaz Villanueva, 18, from Las Piñas City. This is the first time for two Filipinos to qualify as semifinalists in the competition.

Cloma and Villanueva, who created their original individual science videos, are now in the running to receive $400,000 worth of prizes, including a college scholarship and a new science lab for his school.  

The general public are invited to vote for their entries—through positive reactions “like,” “love,” “haha,” or “wow” and shares—for a People’s Choice winner in the “Popular Vote” Challenge until September 20 at 11:59 p.m. Philippine time. The semifinalists’ videos are on Breakthrough YouTube and Facebook.

On September 21, the 15 finalists and the top scorer in the Popular Vote regional categories will be revealed. The top-scorer in the overall Popular Vote will automatically qualify into the finalist round, the Breakthrough Prize Foundation said.

Each of the seven geographic regions will have a top-scorer who will be named a Regional Champion.

Cloma’s video focuses on the mathematical “Theorema Egregium,” Latin for “Remarkable theorem,” which he explained by using a piece of pizza.

The theorem was a major result of differential geometry, proved by Carl Friedrich Gauss in 1827, that concerns the curvature of surfaces. The theorem is that Gaussian curvature of a surface does not change even if one bends the surface without stretching it.

Cloma aspires to combine his interests of math, science and computers by becoming a computer scientist in the future, and is motivated to use his voice as a Breakthrough Jr. semi-finalist to encourage the youth in his community. 

Meanwhile, Villanueva’s video focuses on Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity. It is a continuation of the idea that theories will keep developing with us, she said.

Starting to learn the principles of quantum physics in Grade 7, Villanuena believes that whether or not she wins the Breakthrough Junior Challenge, she has already won by being able to learn about science.

Founded in 2015, the Breakthrough Junior Challenge is a global science video contest that encourages students to create engaging and imaginative videos that demonstrate difficult scientific concepts and theories in the physical or life sciences.

Breakthrough Prize Foundation announced that this year’s 30 semifinalists hail from across the globe, including the United States, Canada, Chile, China, Croatia, India, Iraq, New Zealand, Philippines, Trinidad and Tobago, South Africa, South Korea and the United Kingdom.

The students created 90-second videos on wide-ranging topics, from quantum entanglement to time travel to adaptive immunity and T-Cell therapies.

The contest is designed to inspire fresh, creative explanations of fundamental concepts in the life sciences, physics and mathematics.

The semifinalist videos represent the top submissions following a review by the Evaluation Panel. They include two top-scoring submissions from each of seven geographical regions—North America (US/Canada), Central/South America, Europe, Asia, Middle East/Africa, India, and Australia/New Zealand—as well as remaining top-scoring videos from the panel’s review.

In addition to creating and producing their own video entries, Challengers must also participate in a round of peer-to-peer assessment, in which they score some of their fellow competitors’ submissions.

The winner of the Breakthrough Junior Challenge will be awarded a $250,000 college scholarship. The science teacher who inspired the winning student will win a $50,000 prize. The winner’s school will also receive a state-of-the-art science lab valued at $100,000, the Breakthrough Prize Foundation. 

For the eighth year, students ages 13-18 were invited to create original videos that illustrated a concept or theory in the life sciences, physics or mathematics. The submissions were evaluated on the students’ ability to communicate complex scientific ideas in the most engaging, illuminating and imaginative ways. 

Since its launch, the Breakthrough Junior Challenge has reached 202 countries with more than 80,000 registrants. The 2022 installment of the global competition attracted more than 2,400 applicants.

The Breakthrough Junior Challenge, founded by Yuri and Julia Milner, aims to develop and demonstrate young people’s knowledge of science and scientific principles; generate excitement in these fields; support science, technology, engineering and mathematics career choices; and engage the imagination and interest of the public-at-large in key concepts of fundamental science.

Image credits: Screenshots from videos