Samay Godika, a class 10th student is one of the 30 semi-finalists chosen from more than 6000 entries to the breakthrough junior challenge.
The competition is an annual one by the founders of Facebook, Google & Khan Academy, with the objective of inspiring creative thinking about science. Students from the ages 13 to 18 from all across the world research, create and submit original videos on complex topics in the field of life sciences, physics or mathematics. The winner gets awarded the prestigious scholarship prize money in a glittering ceremony in Los Angeles, attended by the A-listers of Hollywood and the Silicon Valley.
Samay, the only Indian candidate selected for the programme, chose to work on life sciences, the fascinating topic of ‘’Autophagy’’, which also happens to be the 2016 Nobel Prize-winning work. It is the science behind fasting. It is a topic that would resonate with many Indians as it proves the ancient tradition of fasting to stay healthy and live longer. On much the same lines, researchers show that autophagy, a self-cleaning mechanism, could help fight dreaded diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and may even help in anti-ageing.
In this video, Samay explains this biological process through a clever combination of humorous animated storytelling and informative scientific explanations. The breakthrough challenge looks for four main areas that the videos should cover: engagement, creativity, illumination and difficulty. Not an easy task for teenagers but Samay has managed to cover them all through his hard work, dedication and out of the box thinking.
Interestingly, he was selected by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), for their Launch Entrepreneurship Program 2017. Out of 80 students for the program, he was one of just seven 9th graders selected from all over the world. The MIT experience led him to co-find memorably, a company which creates photo-books of grandchildren for their grandparents.
And now Samay has his eyes set on the $250,000 dollars scholarship prize money. Not just that, if he wins the challenge, his school will also get $100,000 dollars for a sciences lab. And to top it all, he would hold the ultimate distinction of being the first Indian to win this challenge.
An interesting twist to the selection process is that only one of the semi-finalist videos will sail through directly to the finals, based on the maximum number of ‘likes’, ‘shares’, ‘positive reactions’ etc., known as the ‘Popular Vote’ entry. Videos of the semi-finalists will be up on the official Breakthrough Prize Facebook page on the 23rd of October, 2017 for the public to participate and express their support.
Young teens like Samay deserve all the encouragement they can get to keep our young talent motivated. With international platforms being provided by eminent institutions, like the Breakthrough Challenge, it would be a true breakthrough to see a young Indian boy being facilitated for his wonderful and hard work, on stage in Los Angeles, in a ceremony no less than the Oscars.
All he needs…is the click of a button!