5-minute video wins RI student $350k scholarship

PHOTO: YOUTUBE/ BREAKTHROUGH
Deanna is seen in a screen grab from her winning entry. The 17-year-old explains antibiotic resistance using a lively mix of hand-drawn art, stop-motion video featuring Lego figurines and good old-fashioned piece-to-camera storytelling.
Deanna is seen in a screen grab from her winning entry. The 17-year-old explains antibiotic resistance using a lively mix of hand-drawn art, stop-motion video featuring Lego figurines and good old-fashioned piece-to-camera storytelling.SCREEN GRABS: YOUTUBE/BREAKTHROUGH

Teen beats over 6,000 entries worldwide, wins $200k in cash prizes for her school too

A homemade video has netted 17-year-old student Deanna See a university scholarship from a foundation funded by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Deanna's five-minute video, in which she explains the complex topic of antibiotic resistance using markers and Lego figurines, won her the US$250,000 (S$355,000) top prize at the Breakthrough Junior Challenge.

The challenge required participants to explain a difficult concept in mathematics, life sciences or physics with an original video, and drew more than 6,000 entries from 146 countries.

"Biology is both alive and meaningful because it explains so much that goes on around and within us," said the Raffles Institution student during the prize-presentation ceremony in San Francisco's Silicon Valley on Sunday.

"The best part is, there are now so many online videos that can inspire more students to be fascinated about science."

Deanna is seen in a screen grab from her winning entry. The 17-year-old explains antibiotic resistance using a lively mix of hand-drawn art, stop-motion video featuring Lego figurines and good old-fashioned piece-to-camera storytelling.
The 17-year-old explains antibiotic resistance using a lively mix of hand-drawn art, stop-motion video featuring Lego figurines and good old-fashioned piece-to-camera storytelling. SCREENGRAB: YOUTUBE/BREAKTHROUGH

WONDERFUL STORYTELLERS

Antonella and Deanna both have bright futures in science and I am so excited to honour their work. They are also incredible storytellers, whose ability to capture these complex ideas in accessible and exciting ways is truly inspiring. I cannot wait to see how they will change the world.'

DR PRISCILLA CHAN, wife of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, of the Breakthrough Junior Challenge winners

Antibiotic resistance is a growing concern all over the world, as practices such as the improper use of antibiotics make it easier for hardy drug-resistant strains of bacteria to flourish. In 2014, for instance, the World Health Organisation estimated that there were nearly half a million new cases of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis in the world, with only a quarter of them detected and reported.

Deanna was one of two winners - the other was 18-year-old Antonella Masini from Peru, whose chosen topic was quantum entanglement.

Their entries were judged according to how engaging and creative they were, how complex the subject was, and how well they explained it. The panel of judges comprised experts from various fields, including doctors, mathematicians and physicists.

Apart from the scholarship, Deanna also won US$50,000 for a teacher who inspired her, and US$100,000 to set up a new science lab in her school.

According to tech website GeekWire, biology teacher Wong Seok Hui will donate her prize money to the school's scholarship programmes as she is not allowed to accept the money as a civil servant.

The lab prize will be donated to Raffles Girls' School, Deanna's alma mater. The prizes are funded by Mr Zuckerberg, his wife Priscilla Chan, as well as Russian physicist Yuri Milner and his wife Julia, through the Breakthrough Prize Foundation.

Deanna is seen in a screen grab from her winning entry. The 17-year-old explains antibiotic resistance using a lively mix of hand-drawn art, stop-motion video featuring Lego figurines and good old-fashioned piece-to-camera storytelling.
The 17-year-old explains antibiotic resistance using a lively mix of hand-drawn art, stop-motion video featuring Lego figurines and good old-fashioned piece-to-camera storytelling. SCREENGRAB: YOUTUBE/BREAKTHROUGH

The foundation also awarded its annual Breakthrough Prizes, which recognise the world's top scientists with a US$3 million award each.

Said Dr Chan of the Breakthrough Junior Challenge, which is into its second year: "It encourages students to better understand the worlds of science and mathematics and to have some fun along the way.

"Antonella and Deanna both have bright futures in science and I am so excited to honour their work. They are also incredible storytellers, whose ability to capture these complex ideas in accessible and exciting ways is truly inspiring.

"I cannot wait to see how they will change the world."

Deanna, who is still overseas, could not be contacted for this story.

•Additional reporting by Linette Lai

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 06, 2016, with the headline '5-minute video wins RI student $350k scholarship'. Print Edition | Subscribe