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Mexico City Student a Breakthrough Challenge Finalist

September 28, 2018

14-year-old Luciana Lozano of Mexico City chose her video topic, "The Theory of Everything," to commemorate one of her scientific heroes, the late Stephen Hawking. Click HERE to watch it on Youtube.

San Francisco, California - On September 21, the top finalists in the 2018 Breakthrough Junior Challenge global science video contest were announced, and 14-year-old Luciana Lozano of Mexico City is among the group of 16 impressive students from around the world who are competing for $400,000 USD in prizes.

For the fourth year, students ages 13-18 were invited to create original videos (up to three minutes in length) that illustrated a concept or theory in the life sciences, physics or mathematics, and the 2018 installment of the global competition, which began on April 3, attracted more than 12,000 students in 190 countries.

The videos were evaluated on the students' ability to communicate complex scientific ideas in engaging, illuminating, and imaginative ways (Think: Steven Spielberg meets Albert Einstein), and Luciana was not only among the 16 finalists, but has also been named Regional Champion in the Breakthrough Junior Challenge Popular Vote for Latin America.


Luciana chose her video topic, "The Theory of Everything," to commemorate one of her scientific heroes, the late Stephen Hawking. Although she wasn't familiar with these concepts prior to starting the challenge, String Theory - with its extra dimensions, wormholes and multiverses - quickly sparked her imagination, reminding her of the magic she reads about in novels.

On September 7, the field was reduced to 29 semifinalists, which represented the top submissions after two rounds of judging: first, a mandatory peer review, followed by an evaluation panel of judges.

The semifinalist's submissions were then entered in a Popular Vote contest, which ran September 7-20, and invited the public to vote for their favorite video by "liking," "sharing," or posting a positive reaction on the Breakthrough Prize Facebook page.

Nikhiya Shamsher, 16 (India) was the top scorer in the Popular Vote contest with more than 25,000 likes, shares and positive reactions for her video on spacetime and gravity, earning her automatic entry into the final round of judging.

The finalists are: Ayesha Ahmed, 18, (Australia); Jason Chen, 15 (United States); Sam Cryan, 18 (United States); Victor Elgersma, 18 (Belgium); Samay Godika, 16 (India); Artem Kirsanov, 17 (Russia); Diogo Afonso Leitão, 16 (Brazil); Luciana Lozano, 14 (Mexico); Srishti Mishra, 17 (Cambodia); Adelyn Moore, 17 (United States); Kavya Negi, 18 (India); HP Park, 16 (Republic of Korea); Grace Patenaude, 15 (United States); Avideep Pradhan, 17 (United States); Nikhiya Shamsher, 16 (India); and Matthew Walak, 18 (United States). Their videos can be viewed at breakthroughjuniorchallenge.org.

One of these 16 finalists will be announced the winner of the 2018 Breakthrough Junior Challenge on the Breakthrough Prize Facebook page, live from the 2018 Breakthrough Prize ceremony in Silicon Valley on Sunday, November 4.

The winner of the Breakthrough Junior Challenge will be awarded a $250,000 USD 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.

Breakthrough Junior Challenge is a global initiative to develop and demonstrate young people's knowledge of science and scientific principles; generate excitement in these fields; support STEM career choices; and engage the imagination and interest of the public-at-large in key concepts of fundamental science.