Bengaluru boy bags the world to win science prize


Bengaluru boy Samay Godika (in picture) has emerged as the winner of the Breakthrough Junior Challenge with $400,000 (over Rs 2.9 crore) as the prize money.

While Samay, 16, a student of National Public School-Koramangala, will receive a $250,000 (over Rs 1.8 crore) college scholarship, his ninth and tenth grade science teacher, Pramila Menon, who encouraged his interest in life sciences and tutored him after school to encourage his curiosity about scientific ideas, will win a $50,000 (over Rs 36 lakh) prize.

In addition, his school will receive a state-of-the-art science lab valued at $100,000 (over Rs 72 lakh).

The Breakthrough Junior Challenge is a global science video competition designed to inspire creative thinking about fundamental concepts in the life sciences, physics, and mathematics. Students between 13 and 18 years are invited to create original videos (up to three minutes) that illustrate a concept or theory in the physical or life sciences. The submissions are evaluated on the students’ ability to communicate complex scientific ideas in the most engaging, illuminating, and imaginative ways. Samay’s video, submitted in the life sciences category, focused on circadian rhythms, the 24-hour biological processes that can affect simple daily experiences such as waking up for school or jet lag.

As he has family members who suffer from Parkinson’s and other neurological diseases, Samay is particularly interested in the correlation between circadian rhythms and the effectiveness of medical treatments.

Samay was, on Sunday, recognized alongside some of the world’s top scientists and mathematicians Speaking to Bangalore Mirror, Samay said, “It feels amazing and unbelievable. I’m very happy to be among these great scientists. Our school is very science-centric and laid the foundation right from the beginning, shaping and guiding me to be the person I am today.”

“Participating in and now winning the Breakthrough Junior Challenge is life-changing, thrilling and such an honour. I’m so grateful for this opportunity to be recognized. I thank my teachers and family, and my little sister Sia, for shaping me,” he added.

Nikhiya Shamsher, 16, who is also from National Public School-Koramangala, won this year’s Popular Vote. Her video on space-time and gravity garnered more than 25,000 likes, shares and positive reactions on the Breakthrough Facebook page. She received automatic entry into the final round of judging. Last year, Samay had won the Popular Vote contest. “I didn’t win last year, but I came back this year, and I am fortunate to be here,” he said, crediting sheer perseverance for his success.

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