The Breakthrough Junior Challenge

A Singapore student, Deanna See, has won a scholarship worth $250,000 from a foundation funded by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg for her video on antibiotic resistance. She is a 17 year old student at Raffles Institution (RI) and one of the finalists of the Breakthrough Junior Challenge, which is a global science video competition. See’s video is a five-minute clip that was titled “Superbugs! And Our Race Against Resistance“. Her video aims to demystify antibiotic resistance in an engaging manner. It is a yearly competition that had attracted more than 6,000 entries from 146 countries.

 

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(The Breakthrough Junior Challenge) requires students to explain a challenging theory or concept in the areas of either mathematics, life sciences or physics by creating an original video.

A brief background on the challenge is that it basically requires students to explain a challenging theory or concept in the areas of either mathematics, life sciences or physics by creating an original video. It is noteworthy that there were two winners this year, the other being an 18-year-old Peruvian student named Antonella Masini. Both students gave speeches during the gala ceremony at San Francisco’s Silicon Valley and their prize was up to $400,000 in education prizes, which  consists of a $250,000 scholarship, a $50,000 prize for a teacher who inspired them and a state-of-the-art science laboratory valued at $100,000.

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The challenge is aimed at encouraging students to be able to understand science and mathematics while having some fun along the way.

The prizes are funded by Mr Zuckerberg, his wife Priscilla Chan, and Russian physicist Yuri Milner and his wife Julia through the Breakthrough Prize Foundation. Dr Chan said that the challenge is aimed at encouraging students to be able to understand science and mathematics while having some fun along the way. In addition, Dr Chan notes that both students have bright futures in science and she is excited to honour their work.

It must be noted that GeekWire reported that See had chosen to award the $50,000 prize to her biology teacher Wong Seok Hui but as Mrs Wong is a civil servant, she is unable to receive the prize. Accordingly, she directed it to RI’s scholarship programme instead. While the lab prize will be donated to Raffles Girls’ School, See’s alma mater.

It seems that creativity is the way forward in effective teaching and generating interest in the areas of mathematics and sciences, which could be viewed as quite complex and to some relatively boring areas of study.

The Value Behind Mathematics and Science

It is important that mathematics and science subjects be promoted amongst the masses because they are the fundamentals for greater innovation and pursuits. For instance, the use of sciences have assisted mankind to be able to understand the interaction amongst organisms and even assisted mankind to explore the depths of space. In addition, mathematics has enabled mankind to make precise and well-calculated theories to advance their pursuits, such as making the necessary calculations for the trajectory of a space shuttle.

In addition, it must be noted that a love for mathematics and sciences would open doors for individuals in various fields of interest, in particular, engineering. It must be emphasised that the field of engineering has spawned many areas of specialisation that caters to various industries, such as the marine industry and the space industry.

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The use of sciences have assisted mankind to be able to understand the interaction amongst organisms and even assisted mankind to explore the depths of space.

As a sub-point, the field of engineering almost always guarantees employability for an individual because an engineer could be tasked to solve relatively simple tasks, such as IT matters in an office, to more complex ones, such as manufacturing of critical components in cars or ships. Thus, it is clear that are inherent values and benefits in teaching mathematics and sciences to the masses.

The Value of Creativity

Given the foregoing, packaging the knowledge of mathematics and sciences in a creative manner will assist everyone to better appreciate and be interested in them. It is undeniable that the complexity involved in these fields naturally induces boredom except for those truly passionate and interested in them. Accordingly, the use of a creative video coupled with the support from industry leaders is a good step forward in making mathematics and the sciences interesting and digestible.

 

As a side point, it should be noted that society these days have shorter attention span and are more in tune with social media platforms. This means that having such creative videos available on the go, for example on YouTube, and provided in a ‘bite size’ manner for the manners would assist in promoting interests and have the residual benefit of keeping people interested in the long term. For instance, there are many videos on YouTube that are in the genre of educating people from menial tasks such as tying a tie and helping people improve on their dating skills to understanding Economics concepts through e learning videos.

 

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The use of a creative video coupled with the support from industry leaders is a good step forward in making mathematics and the sciences interesting and digestible.

Accordingly, a residual benefit is the growth of an entertainment industry catered towards making educational videos for the masses and this may result in the growth of the economy and alternatively, create a comparative advantage for nations capable of capitalising on the strength of making such educational videos.

To conclude, it is hoped that with the win by Deanna See would inspire more Singaporean students to pursue careers in the area of creative teaching and more importantly, help to better educate and keep Singaporeans interested in the exciting areas of mathematics and sciences.