Breakthrough Junior Challenge: Behind the 180-second Journey

by Sochea Sar | Jul,18,2021

"Every journey of science starts with the moment of inspiration"

  -Mrs. Priscilla Chan, one of the founders of Breakthrough Junior Challenge



Breakthrough Junior Challenge is an annual global competition aiming to embrace young potential people (ages 13 to 18) from every neighborhood across the globe to produce and submit their 3-minute video explaining the sophisticated concept or theory in the field of fundamental physics, life sciences, and mathematics, and bringing it to life in a novel and creative way that we all can easily grasp and relate to.

Spawned by the Breakthrough Prize Foundation under the sponsorship of Sergey Brin, Priscilla Chan, Mark Zuckerberg, and many more founders, the Breakthrough Prize was created in the purpose of celebrating and recognizing the top-notch scientific works of the year from awe-inspiring young winners whose works are meant for the future of science.

How can the Breakthrough Junior Challenge be part of shaping the future of aspiring young Cambodian scientists?

Living in the STEM era, Cambodia education has unceasingly produced countless students whose dreams commonly gravitate towards science, but nevertheless a dream is just a dream owing to the lack of access to opportunity. Breakthrough Junior Challenge is the spacious platform where you can make your ideas heard, your imagination recognized, and your dream come true. The more young people whose capabilities and aspirations in science are exposed to the world, the more windows of opportunity will be accessible in their future, not merely the scientist but the compelling science communicator.  

With the support of Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, Tech for Kids Breakthrough has successfully guided 6 Cambodian students to the finished line of their submissions through the process of filtering them among 68 candidates, then interviewing 12 shortlisted-candidates; only 6 standouts were critically selected to join the 6-week training in addition to mentoring, video training, and application guidance in order to ensure the triumph of their 180-second journey of inspiring the world- these are what they have to highlight about that journey: 

Q: How are you feeling towards the future of STEM in Cambodia after watching what your mentees have progressed within their videos?

“Within 3-minute of their videos, I came to realize that my understanding has been expanded in those fascinating topics. Since I had been with them since day one, I could see how they have grown significantly in creativity and inspiration trying to explain their favorite concepts or theories. This opportunity doesn’t only allow students to bring their imagination to life, but their works also encourage other students to understand more about their topics in STEM effectively. I strongly believe that the more Cambodian students start to take part in this work, it will both promote STEM education and enable the next generation of science and innovation in our country” - Boreth Sethy, one of Tech for Kids Breakthrough mentors. 


A 180-second journey can somehow turn into 180 degree life-changeThe Breakthrough Prize is a college scholarship up to a grant of $250,000 for the winner, as well as $50,000 for the teacher who inspired the winning student and $100,000 worth of Breakthrough Science Lab for their school. Not to mention a trip where the winner will be awarded at the star-studded, televised Breakthrough Prize Ceremony, attended by exceptional guests and award-winning scientists from Silicon Valley, United States.

Q: Do you think winning the Breakthrough Junior Challenge is a life-changing event?

“Winning such a global challenge would not only be a once-in-a-lifetime experience but more doors of opportunities will be opened. The educational prizes would assist me to attend my dream university that I constantly grow up setting my sights on. It is another stepping stone for me to chase my dream in the field of astrophysics. My teacher would also be rewarded for his hard work for encouraging me all along. It doesn’t solely improve his life but also motivates him to continuously put his effort in educating our younger generation as well. While my school would receive a first-class laboratory, we will no longer have to only learn theoretically but also get to practice and implement scientific projects, which will have a positive impact in our community, in the real world” says Kolniksey Seng, Physics: Gravitational Waves’s speaker.


Each of these videos can include animation, dramatic construction, motion graphics, documentary-style presentation, and other visual effects, and will be judged under a harsh microscope of the Evaluation Panel upon engagement, creativity, illumination, and difficulty. To ace the qualification, there must have been ups and downs for each applicant to stimulate the creative thinking behind their videos. 

However, would they still recommend their fellow teenagers to take a shot in this global competition next year or not?

“Absolutely yes! Regardless, the result isn't going to be as good as I expected. At least I've learned a lot from that. I was able to improve my skills in writing script, speaking, video shooting and editing as well as animating skills in order to make my video look more attractive and engaging,” says Panhavatey Keournrasmey, 2021 Breakthrough Junior Challenge’s applicant. 

Mealea Mang, Breakthrough Starshot Project’s speaker, also added “I strongly recommend those who are eligible to join this challenge next year because personally, it's not about winning. For me, it's about the lessons I learnt, people I met along the way. It’s definitely not an easy journey, you'll meet different obstacles, but it'll be worth it…”. 

“Getting an unsuccessful result in the competition doesn't really matter, the real losers are those who are too scared to lose that they don't participate” added by Chhinglong Leang, Physics: Maxwell's Demon’s speaker. 


For more information, visit well prepared and stay tuned!


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