Bay Area high school student takes first place in worldwide science competition

BURLINGAME, Calif. (KGO) -- A Bay Area high school senior shared the stage among world-leading scientists and mathematicians in an award ceremony where he received top honors and awards from the Breakthrough Prize Foundation this weekend.

17-year-old Jeffrey Chen received $400,000 in educational scholarships in Breakthrough Junior Challenge's worldwide science video competition for his two-minute original video on "Neutrino Astronomy."

Chen, a student at Burlingame High School, attributes his passion for astronomy after visiting a planetarium in elementary school and acknowledges his high school for fostering a high priority on science education.

"It's definitely really incredible to have won and I have a hard time believing it," says Chen. "I'm really grateful to be in an environment that promotes science. I think our school does a really good job of that."

Chen's science teacher and high school will also benefit from his winning. Heather Johnson, Chen's science teacher who sparked his interest in science and guided him in starting the environmental science club at school will receive $50,000. Burlingame High School will be granted $100,000 for a new state-of-the-art science lab.

Breakthrough Junior Challenge is a global initiative to develop and showcase young people's knowledge and communication of science. In its fifth year, the worldwide science video competition is open to young people ages 13 to 18 to create three-minute educational videos on various science topics.

The videos are judged by science and communication experts and are evaluated by creativity, engagement, illumination, and difficulty. Chen's video was one of 11,000 other videos created by youth spanning over 199 countries.

Salman Khan, CEO and Founder of Kahn Academy, a non-profit online education program identified Chen as "a natural science communicator."

"He artfully explains a complex topic and makes it easier to understand. We're proud to support Jeffrey and all the other bright minds who participated in this year's challenge" congratulates Khan.

Jeffrey's video on the neutrino particle and its implications for astronomy, along with other videos made by finalists, will be added to Khan Academy's website for peers to learn around the world.

You can watch his video here.
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