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Irving Student Finalist in International Science Competition

A 15-year-old student from Irving, Texas is currently one of 30 semi-finalists from thousands of applicants across the globe in the annual, Breakthrough Junior Challenge competition.

Aryan Malhotra of Irving, created an original science video and is now in the running to receive $400,000 worth of prizes, including a college scholarship and a new science lab for his school.   Aryan’s video focuses on the Tachyon, a hypothetical particle which travels faster than light and could potentially allow us into the past. Besides his love for science, Aryan loves music and is talented on the piano and the guitar, expressing that his favorite artist is Drake.

The finalists’ videos are already up on YouTube and Facebook, and the general public can vote for a people’s choice winner in the Popular Vote Challenge between now and September 20.

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The Breakthrough Prize Foundation today announced the top 30 student semifinalists in the eighth annual Breakthrough Junior Challenge global science video competition, and kicked off the ‘Popular Vote’ phase, posting all videos online on the Breakthrough Facebook page and YouTube page, and inviting people from around the world to vote for their favorite video in the contest.

This year’s 30 semifinalists hail from all 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. They created videos up to 90 seconds 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.

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

The semifinalist videos represent the top submissions following a review by the Evaluation Panel. The group includes two top-scoring submissions from each of seven geographical regions — North America (U.S. / 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.

All 30 semifinalists will compete in the ‘Popular Vote’ contest, open now until Tuesday, September 20 at 11:59 PM PT. The ‘Popular Vote’ invites the public to vote for their favorite semifinalist submission on the Breakthrough Facebook page and Breakthrough YouTube page. The video with the highest number of combined likes, positive reactions (e.g. “love”, “haha”, “wow”), and shares from the videos on Facebook and YouTube will be declared top scorer in the 2022 Popular Vote. On Wednesday, 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 receive automatic entry into the finalist round. Additionally, each of the seven geographic regions will have a top-scorer who will be named a Regional Champion.

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 15 top-scoring finalist videos will be reviewed by the Selection Committee, comprising: Ian Agol, Professor of Mathematics, University of California, Berkeley, and Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics Laureate; Rachel Crane, Space and Science Correspondent, CNN; Pascale Ehrenfreund, PhD, President, International Space University; John Grunsfeld, PhD Astronaut, Associate Administrator for Science, Chief Scientist at NASA Headquarters; Dr. Mae Jemison, science literacy expert, former astronaut, and Principal, 100 Year Starship; Jeffery W. Kelly, Professor of Chemistry, Scripps Research Institute, and Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences Laureate; retired NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly; Sal Khan, Founder and CEO, Khan Academy; Ijad Madisch, CEO, Co-Founder, ResearchGate; Astronaut and artist Nicole Stott; Andrew Strominger, Professor of Physics, Harvard University, Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics Laureate; Terence Tao, Professor of Mathematics, UCLA and Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics Laureate; Esther Wojcicki, Founder, Palo Alto High Media Arts Center; and Pete Worden, Chairman, Breakthrough Prize Foundation and Executive Director, Breakthrough Initiatives.

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.

For the eighth year, students ages 13-18 were invited to create original videos (up to 90 seconds in length) 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.

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