Judging for the 2023 Breakthrough Junior Challenge is now underway. Since the submission deadline passed on June 25, the competition has entered its judging phase. Entrants’ videos will now move through a four-stage judging process to determine who will win the Challenge and receive life-changing educational prizes.

Israeli billionaire Yuri Milner founded the Breakthrough Junior Challenge in 2015. He has also co-founded the Breakthrough Prize, the Breakthrough Initiatives, and Tech For Refugees. These projects tie into the philanthropist’s Giving Pledge commitment.

The Breakthrough Junior Challenge: Short Videos, Big Ideas

The Breakthrough Junior Challenge is a global video competition for high school students. Each year, the Challenge asks entrants to create and submit a short, original video (two minutes maximum) that explains a big scientific idea. 

Anyone aged 13 to 18 from any country can enter the Challenge, but the video must be in English. The video must be engaging, illuminating, and creative. Entrants who explain a particularly complex idea are more likely to get a higher score. This might be an idea typically studied at the advanced college level or higher.

Contestants enter the competition by creating an account on the Breakthrough Junior Challenge website, filling out an application, and uploading their videos to YouTube. Entrants must also complete the Peer-to-Peer Review, where they score at least five other contestants’ videos.

The Peer-to-Peer Review is the first stage of the judging process. Next, videos pass through the Evaluation Panel Review, the Popular Vote, and the Selection Committee Review. These stages ensure that the winning video has the approval of leading scholars and members of the public alike.

The Breakthrough Junior Challenge will announce the finalists, Popular Vote top scorer, and regional champions on Sept. 21, 2023.

Challenge Winners From Previous Years

To date, nine bright teens have won the Breakthrough Junior Challenge. The first-ever winner of the Challenge was Ryan Chester, aged 18, from the U.S. Chester won the prize for his engaging video explaining Einstein’s special theory of relativity.

The 2017 Challenge winner also discussed relativity in her video. Hailing from the Philippines, Hillary Andales, aged 18, used real-life examples to demonstrate the concept of the equivalence of reference frames.

Fast-forward to last year: 16-year-old Noor Haideri from the U.S. won the prize for her video on the impact that blue light exposure can have on sleep. Her video used clear, colorful diagrams to explain the role of intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs) in our sleep-wake cycle.

Discover more Breakthrough Junior Challenge winners.

About Yuri Milner’s Breakthrough Foundation

Yuri Milner’s Breakthrough Foundation organizes and sponsors the Breakthrough Junior Challenge. The Foundation also supports:

  • Tech For Refugees. Created in 2022, Tech For Refugees supports tech-enabled humanitarian efforts. The non-profit initiative works with organizations like Airbnb.org and Flexport.org to help refugees improve their quality of life. Tech For Refugees is also seeking new technology partners.
  • The Breakthrough Initiatives. These multi-million-dollar programs advance research into space exploration and life in the Universe. Stephen Hawking and Yuri Milner announced the first Breakthrough Initiative in 2015. There are now five Breakthrough Initiatives: Listen, Watch, Starshot, Message, and Discuss.
  • The Breakthrough Prize. Yuri Milner co-founded the Breakthrough Prize in 2012, the same year he joined the Giving Pledge. The Breakthrough Prize celebrates and rewards the world’s leading scientists and mathematicians.

Yuri Milner and his wife Julia established the Breakthrough Foundation as part of their Giving Pledge to support science and help spread scientific ideas. The billionaire’s Giving Pledge letter emphasizes the value of investing in scientists and the future of humanity.

By Manali