Chan Zuckerberg Initiative sponsors teen video challenge

The winner could get a $250,000 scholarship and a new science lab at school.

Erin Carson
Erin Carson Former Senior Writer
Erin Carson covered internet culture, online dating and the weird ways tech and science are changing your life.
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The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is helping fund the Breakthrough Junior Challenge.

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Imagine someone offered you a $250,000 scholarship for a video you made in biology class on osmosis.

That's the basic premise of the Breakthrough Junior Challenge, a competition for students around the world aged 13 to 18. Students must make a video, up to 3 minutes long, explaining a concept in math, physics or life sciences.

"The Breakthrough Junior Challenge gives young people a chance to share their knowledge of math and science in a fun and creative way," Priscilla Chan, co-founder of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, said in a statement Thursday. The challenge is funded in part of by the Initiative, which Chan started with husband Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook.

"Every student involved helps us build a movement towards a better future for science," she added.

The challenge is another push to get kids interested in the science, technology, engineering and math fields, also known as the STEM subjects. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics' latest numbers show there are more than 8 million STEM jobs in the States and that pay for STEM jobs is about double the national average.

Video submissions will be judged on how well they tackle complicated ideas. There will also be a popular vote on the Breakthrough Facebook page, which could earn one video a spot in the finalist round.

So, what's on the line for coming up with the most enlightening explanation of kinetic energy? Well, there's that $250,000 scholarship. In addition, the winning student's teacher gets $50,000 and his or her school gets a $100,000 science lab. Plus, the winner gets to attend the Breakthrough Prize ceremony, which Nat Geo host Jason Silva promises in a promo video will be a commingling of Hollywood and Silicon Valley.

The deadline to submit online is Oct. 1. More than 6,000 students from 146 countries entered videos in last year's competition, which ended with a tie between two clips, one covering quantum entanglement, and the other, superbugs.