The Breakthrough Prize launched the first-ever Breakthrough Junior Challenge, an annual, global competition for science and math students to inspire creative thinking about fundamental concepts in the life sciences, physics or mathematics.
The Breakthrough Challenge (which is funded byMark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, and Yuri and Julia Milner, through the Breakthrough Prize Foundation) accepted more than 2,000 qualified applications from a total of 86 countries. Participants were invited to create original videos that brought to life a concept or theory in the life sciences, physics or mathematics. Submissions explored topics as diverse as special relativity, infinitesimals, and the science of fireworks and were judged on their ability to communicate complex scientific ideas in the most engaging way. Congratulations to Ryan Chester age 18 of North Royalton, Ohio for winning the first Breakthrough Junior Challenge on Sunday, November 8th. Ryan was kind enough to join me for an interview this week to discuss his amazing win, his video on Einstein’s special theory of relativity, his plans for the future and much more.
Candace Rose: How did you decide to participate in the Breakthrough Junior Challenge?
Ryan Chester: “Well, my mom found out about the Challenge on Facebook and let me know, and I was really excited to hear about it because it was making a video explaining a science concept. That’s something I’ve done a lot before. I’ve always loved science, I’ve always loved making films and this was the perfect combination of the two.”
Candace Rose: Can you tell us about your winning video and why you chose to explore the subject?
Ryan Chester: “I made my video on Einstein’s special theory of relativity. I chose this one because a lot of people have heard about it but not many actually understand it, so I wanted to dig in and really find a way to make it relatable to people.”
Candace Rose: How did it feel to win on Sunday night? How do you think this will affect your life?
Ryan Chester: “It was amazing to win. That was an experience I’ve only dreamed of. Going on from here, I’m just going to apply to colleges and I’m sure this is going to look good to the admissions officers. Basically any college I want to go to, I’m able to now because of this scholarship. I’m so excited that I have so many opportunities because of this.”
Candace Rose: What are your plans for the future?
Ryan Chester: “Well, I want to major in film and science. I don’t want to leave behind either interest. Where I go to college is not for certain right now, but I’m going to apply to USC, NYU, Stanford and a couple other schools and keep my options open.”
Candace Rose: What do you love about science?
Ryan Chester: “I love how science can explain everything in our everyday lives and also concepts that we would never dream of unless we had science to tell us about them. It’s just a way of understanding how the world works. I think that’s really important.”
Candace Rose: What would you say to other kids thinking about entering the competition next year?
Ryan Chester: “I would say make your video stand out. Do something really creative. Make the judges laugh and also make sure you also really understand your concept well enough to explain it in a unique way. Don’t just use the standard explanation. Come up with a new spin on it, that will really stand out to the judges.”
Candace Rose: How did it feel being on stage with the giants in science, technology and media on Sunday night?
Ryan Chester: “I’ll never forget that experience. It was really awesome.”
Candace Rose: Well, thank you so much, Ryan. Where can we go for more information?
Ryan Chester: “Go to BreakthroughJuniorChallenge.org to see the other finalists videos and find information about the challenge and to apply for next year.”