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Burlingame High Senior Wins Top Honor in Global Science Competition

A 17-year-old Peninsula student won the $250,000 top prize in the fifth annual Breakthrough Junior Challenge, a global science video competition, the Breakthrough Prize Foundation announced Sunday.

Jeffery Chen, a senior at Burlingame High School, won the honor for his original video that brought science concepts to life, the foundation said. He will receive a $250,000 college scholarship.

In addition to Chen's scholarship, his science teacher, Heather Johnson, who inspired and mentored Chen, will take home a $50,000 prize, and the school will get a new, state-of-the-art science lab worth about $100,000, the foundation said.

The video competition is designed to inspire creative thinking about fundamental concepts in the life sciences, physics and mathematics. In Chen's winning video, he explains the neutrino particle and its implications for astronomy, enabling astronomers to look at high energy cosmic events, gaze at the core of stars and even look at the universe moments after it began, the foundation said.

Chen’s video can be viewed on the Breakthrough Junior Challenge website

"Science constantly evolves and gives us new perspectives on why the universe behaves the way it does, and we’re fortunate to live in a time where the mysteries of the cosmos are being unlocked before our very eyes," Chen said.

Chen was to be recognized Sunday alongside some of the world’s top scientists during the Breakthrough Prize ceremony at NASA Ames in Mountain View, being broadcast live at 7 p.m. Pacific time on National Geographic. A taped version will air around the world later this year in 172 countries and in 43 languages, the foundation said.

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