Hiya! I'm Maryam Tsegaye (kinda new to Reddit). *prize breakdown below*

I participated in the Breakthrough Junior Challenge, an international science/math competition for teens to explain a complex science/math topic in a 3 minute video, NOT AT ALL expecting to win. (also the 1st Canadian to receive this prize 🥰)

I made my video on quantum tunneling, a physical phenomena that was completely new to me until I made the video.

I've been getting *hundreds* of questions from people and fellow Challengers about how I made my video, choosing a topic, etc. When I found this community, I thought maybe it would be a good idea to

  1. spread word about the Breakthrough Junior Challenge! (science communication ftw!)
  2. answer a bunch of questions that anyone might have about anything

* my username just refers to the fact that I often forget to eat when I'm busy working (something that definitely happened over quarantine and while I was making my video).

* I updated my insta bio to prove that it is in fact me posting this here

ask away :)

EDIT: I'm 17 and in my senior year of high school

edit2: **I got a $250,000 scholarship, a $100,000 science lab for my school and $50,000 cash prize for my teacher**


Comments: 328 • Responses: 27  • Date: 

imanAholebutimfunny310 karma

What lasting impact would you like to leave on society?

and second, Hypothetically, if you wanted to gamble all of that money on something, what would it be?

longpastlunchtime513 karma

One detail I forgot on the post: how the prize money is split!

$250,000 for my post-secondary (scholarship only, not cash)

$100,000 for my school for a new science lab

$50,000 for my science/math teacher

If I could've used the money otherwise... I'd regret not getting Tesla stocks ;)

sarrazoui38197 karma

So you don't actually get 400k? Its 250k for a scholarship and you don't see the rest?

longpastlunchtime339 karma

yes, educational prizes :) The exposure from the whole experience is crazy though! A lot more than money happening (although the money is definitely a lot, I can study abroad if I want to now)

sarrazoui3882 karma

What do you mean by leave the country? As in you can attend school internationally without worrying about expenses?

What happens if you don't spend the 250k? Unless you're attending school in the states, you won't come close to spending all that on school

longpastlunchtime125 karma

Yes, I'm thinking of going to school in the States (not sure where yet). And I don't receive anything if I don't use whole amount

ThisIsDark67 karma

250k is enough to last you all the way to a PHD. Pretty crazy amount of money tbh.

longpastlunchtime59 karma

I found out later that I can only use it for undergrad, I had the same idea

longpastlunchtime73 karma

oh yeah, I almost forgot the society part: I hope to be some kind of science popularizer/communicator to youth and the general public, not sure what that would look like. I also hope to pursue science research. So whatever those career paths would impact exactly, I don't know. I'll do what I'll do and if it does society some good then I'm even more happy XD

I also find that this video explains the use and impact of science very well!

anggogo77 karma

Very cool. I just watched the video and I like it. But what other use can we apply with quantum tunneling in daily life?

longpastlunchtime97 karma

Quantum tunneling is the reason our phone/device chips can only be so small. The particles flowing through the chip's floodgates (i think it's called?) could end up tunneling out of the gates if the chip is too small. I think of it as the reminder of our 'limit warning' with how small our tech can get before we do new things.

MrUnquenchable62 karma

This is surreal! Congratulations! Among many questions I have, three that are top of mine for me are 1) How can I help encourage my teenage brother to be as passionate about academics as you seem to be? 2) How did you make your video? Seems to have great animations and such. 3) I know Khan academy struggles to fundraise time to time, any plans on helping them garner more attention with your rise to Pr opportunities?

thank you super much!

longpastlunchtime91 karma

  1. hmm... maybe some fun YouTube channels like all of PBS digital studios (crash course, physics girl, the origin of everything, etc), ASAPscience, veritasium, scishow, there are so many to look up to and get inspired! I also really love the docuseries Cosmos: A spacetime odyssey, maybe he might like it? also, let the interest happen organically, if that makes sense
  2. ahaha, my video process is kinda funny. I don't have expensive programs and such, I illustrated on my laptop (i make digital art already), put them on Google Slides and 'animated' them on there and screen recorded the presentation and stuck it all together on iMovie (and my friend on LumaFusion). My laptop had a broken keyboard and screen and my friend's ipad was all shattered. sooooo, it doesn't take much to get started!
  3. I love khan academy haha, i've been a user since 2010/11ish. I definitely give them a shoutout in interviews when I can (I would've never found out about the Challenge if they weren't partners with them!)

nutsack13931 karma

You said Quantum tunneling was a new topic to you before making this. After winning a scholarship, among other prizes, do you see yourself pursuing this topic/field of science through college?

longpastlunchtime47 karma

I don't know what I'd be aiming to study/research in the future... I only know so much and am learning bits from here and there. I might end up in quantum physics, who knows? I'm just going to take whatever is appealing and see what opens up, I'm not set on one field rn :)

Katesfan28 karma

What are your aspirations?

longpastlunchtime36 karma

right now, I'm thinking about science communication and research, but we'll see how it all goes!

spgremlin26 karma

Did you use this (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPZLRtyvEqo) video as an inspiration and as an overall narrative driver, just making your version shorter and more concise?

longpastlunchtime83 karma

I actually did watch that video. I thought it was definitely good for the audience intended: people who are already into science and have some background knowledge in quantum. But I knew that I wanted my video to be approachable for anyone. I absolutely did not want to scare people off with that 'exponentially decaying evanescent wave from Maxwell's equation' (hence my dice analogy). I thought of my video as a story or walk-through, I wanted as many levels and backgrounds to be able to understand it.

Basically, I watched the video, I didn't want to copy it or make mine a 'version' of it. I didn't think Up and Atom's way of exposing it would work for the layman, and I wanted to be as original as possible

VaginaDangerous22 karma

1 the video of you winning is the cutest, I'm sitting at my desk crying 2 what inspired you to pick this topic? 3 do you have any role models? 4 what do you do for fun? 5 Show 'em how!!!

longpastlunchtime19 karma

aw haha, a lot of people cried (i did again after that was filmed).

i just came across qtunneling after watching a video that briefly mentioned it. I was intrigued and just boom! research and search until I decided that this topic is so fun and I should make that my video.

Role models? In a way yes-- I don't try to be them but I love their work. The amazing mathematicians from Hidden Figures, Newton (i read about his life and find it scary to see how much we have in common. not calculus though), Carl Sagan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Feynman, yeah!

Dang, I do a lot of things for fun: hiking, playing piano (and mallet percussion), art, reading, whatever in the moment ig

BarrytheBadrinath15 karma

Do you like pineapple on pizza?

longpastlunchtime34 karma

no 😭😭

BioPoliticsHead12 karma

What school do you plan to attend?!

longpastlunchtime17 karma

not sure yet!! I'm looking around and will be waiting for admission decisions (hoping for the US)

TheAnonymous12345611 karma

How did you go about learning a new topic, such as quantum tunneling?

longpastlunchtime47 karma

I flippin' LOVE wikipedia. I have a problem, really... I start off on an article and practically wikirace to the other side of the universe on a different topic.

As for learning... I think about things happening around me, or read some article and ask a question. I search for the answer to that question, which in turn, takes me to many questions and new topics and I learn a lot along my search. YouTube, Wikipedia, science magazines and misc. articles help me a lot. The MAIN thing, however, is YOUR interest. I could read articles about the lives of classical composers forever. I couldn't tell you why other than how I find it so intriguing (I'm a musician and I enjoy historical context). I could do the same for science as well.

My video topic started off about entropy, and I realized that I didn't really like it. Then I came across a Kurzgesagt video that briefly mentioned Qtunneling. I immediately searched it up and went down a spiral of researching and then decided that would be my video.

learning, however, is very different from teaching. If you want to learn something well, you should try preparing to teach it. (several studies have been done to prove this).

tl;dr: if it's super interesting to you, you'll have no trouble learning it! just make sure you ask yourself a lot of questions (which you'll end up doing if you love the topic).

Lagasz9 karma

What are you going to do with your money? :b

longpastlunchtime37 karma

school school school!

Valhe17298 karma

Are you planning on making more videos? Please do! :)

longpastlunchtime8 karma

i will absolutely be making some videos as tips for the challenge! I think I'll be making some science content as well!

maypop807 karma

I watched your video. Congratulations on your accomplishment and for explaining a very complex topic in a really fun and interesting way. What challenges did you experience making your video to ensure that it provided a great breakdown while still being visually appealing? You use movement and sound very well to keep your audience invested.

longpastlunchtime15 karma

that's a really good question! most people focus on the editing when they reach out for me on what was hard to do, but I was hoping someone would as this!👏🏾

I basically set some rules for myself: I wasn't going to show you math you've probably never seen before, so that's how the dice analogy came along (instead of, say, putting up the equation for Schrodinger's wave function, which might intimidate the viewer).

I also assumed the viewer knew nothing other than the scale of atoms. And I also really don't like it when someone uses a bunch of high-level jargon to either impress you or make you feel like you don't know anything, so I knew I wasn't going to use any science vocabulary that would get in the way of your comfort. (no more than "electron" or "probability" to get the idea across).

It definitely took a lot of just sitting there and thinking. My brain was fried (in a good way) after the whole project. It was hard trying to make sure I didn't sacrifice accuracy for the sake of simplicity, but I tried my best.

Ovalman6 karma

What do you think will happen in your lifetime in the field of science/ maths?

longpastlunchtime18 karma

I can't predict anything. but if i had to speculate for fun:

AI will improve and will do a better job of handling society than we do 😈

haha jk.

I can tell you what I ~personally~ think will not happen: the theory of everything to be discovered. idk, it just feels like the end after that. game over. enderdragon killed.


Do you like the teacher that's going to get the money? And are they gonna give you any of it?

longpastlunchtime18 karma

Yes, I got to choose the teacher the prize goes to (you have to pick when you submit the video in June). and I have not discussed what she is going to do with the money, haha, it's all hers!

cblocksurprise5 karma

How long did it take you to make the video? Were you able to finish it with a lot of time left to the due date, or almost last minute?

longpastlunchtime13 karma

ohohoho I knew someone was gonna ask this, haha...

I took a little less than 2 weeks, and I submitted a few hours before it was due.

edit: I'd definitely recommend you take more time than I did, especially if you have no experience making videos.

Agueliethun4 karma

How do you feel about injera?

longpastlunchtime8 karma

i looooove it. had some alicha and tibs for lunch today

Redicent_3 karma

How can I find competitions like those? What do you want to be when you're in the work force?

longpastlunchtime4 karma

I found out about the Challenge through Khan Academy! There are scholarship websites out there (ex: one popular one would be Student Life Network if you're Canadian). As for future career paths, right now, I'm thinking about a science research & communication path.

L0ui3 karma

what did you use to illustrate everything?! it seems so simplistic yet perfect to tackle heady topics like quantum tunneling. I know you said laptop previously, but what programs or other pieces of tech did you use?

longpastlunchtime9 karma

Paint Tool Sai and my good ol' wacom bamboo tablet! (I've had it for 8 years, dropped it several times and still works like it always has)

For "animating" (if you could even call it that), I used Google Slides and screen recorded me clicking through the presentation :^)

vballer302 karma

Who’s the most famous person you’ve met as a result of your newfound success?

longpastlunchtime16 karma

Sal Khan, the founder of Khan Academy! I was invited to his podcast.

I got quite a bit of attention on social media: Trudeau, Karlie Kloss, and Ron Howard were some who have reposted the news!

I've been able to talk to a physics Nobel laureate and some cool science initiatives.

Thembro011 karma

What other fun facts about Quantum Tunneling did you learn that didn't make it in the video?

longpastlunchtime6 karma

One cool thing is that your phone can't work without the ideas behind quantum tunneling! Chips and their 'tubes/paths' can only be so small and so thin because particles can tunnel out of the path.