Samay Godika describes himself as a Boston native who now lives in India. He is 16 and a junior in the National Public School-Koramangala in Bengaluru, India. He made a video exploring the effects of circadian rhythms on medical treatments, and it has changed his life.
Godika, directed by his science teacher Pramila Menon, submitted the video to Breakthrough Junior Challenge, a global science video competition centered around creative approaches to science. Godika, who entered in the life sciences category, won the grand prize for his video.
For Godika, that means a $250,000 college scholarship. Additionally, there is a $50,000 for his teacher, and a new science lab for his school with an estimated value of $100,000.
Breakthrough Junior Challenge judges entries only partially on the science; the deciding factor is actually the student’s ability to communicate their ideas in “engaging, illuminating, and imaginative ways,” according to the contest’s website. As one of their sponsors is National Geographic, which has been making science and learning engaging and accessible for decades, this isn’t surprising. This was the contest’s fourth year.
Godika’s three-minute video, which uses simple graphics and finger-puppets to lay out his ideas on health results and sleeping patterns, was effective at communicating his theories. He explains his research in linking time of day to performance, symptoms of illness, and bodily healing quickly and with humor that makes it stick in the mind.
Other finalists submitted videos on neuron regeneration, confirmation bias in social media, blood gasses, DNA, and interstellar gravity. Of the fifteen finalists, three including Godika were from India. Six were from the United States, which is perhaps to be expected, since all videos must be in English.
“Participating in and now winning the Breakthrough Junior Challenge is life-changing, thrilling and such an honor… I’m so grateful for this opportunity to be recognized alongside so many of the world’s top scientists and tech industry leaders,” Godika said.
Applications have not yet begun for Breakthrough Junior Challenge 2019, but interested students who will be between the ages of 13 and 18 by April 1, 2019 should keep an eye out. Content submission will be due some time in July of 2019.