How many adults can even explain what quantum tunneling is, let alone a teenager?
Well, 17-year-old Maryam Tsegaye just won $400,000 for describing the concept in the annual Breakthrough Junior Science Challenge, according to BOTWC.
The challenge is an annual competition for students between ages 13 to 18 to compete by sharing innovative videos about complex science or math principles. This year, topics included physics, mathematics, life sciences, and COVID-19.
Inspired by her brother’s gaming, Tsegaye simplified quantum tunneling by touching on traveling small particles, nuclear fusion, and DNA mutation.
“Imagine if you could walk through walls in real life,” she says in the video. “And it turns out you can—at a quantum level.”
Tsegaye got the good news via Zoom from the founder of Khan Academy, Sal Khan, and astronaut, Scott Kelly. The big prize included a $250,000 scholarship, $100,000 for her school’s science lab, and $50,000 for her teacher.
“This is an absolutely life-changing moment,” said Maryam of her big win. “It’s not just me winning right now. It’s my school; it’s my teachers, my family. The city and even the country.”