Student From Mauritius' Explanation Of Molecular Forces Wins Breakthrough Junior Challenge

Kwok created a video that explains the Van Der Waals forces used by Gecko fingers to stick to surfaces. Image Credit: Maris Grunskis/

Amber Kwok, 18, of Mauritius, is the winner of the seventh annual Breakthrough Junior Challenge. The competition invites 13 to 18-year-olds to submit a video (up to three minutes in length) that illustrates a concept or theory in life sciences, physics, or mathematics. Kwok created a fantastic video explaining the Van Der Waals Forces and the Casimir Effect.  

Kwok, her teacher, and her school will receive a total of $400,000 from the Breakthrough Junior Challenge. Amber herself has won a $250,000 college scholarship and she will be attending Stanford University in the fall of 2022. Her science teacher, Shastri Doorgah, will receive a $50,000 prize. Her school will receive a state-of-the-art science lab valued at $100,000.  

“I learned about the Breakthrough Junior Challenge from Khan Academy and was instantly fascinated by the idea of explaining science through video,” Kwok said in a press statement seen by IFLScience. “I believe that science can expand our knowledge on the mysteries of the universe and help us find innovative solutions for today’s global issues. Winning the Challenge is a life-changing honor for me. I can’t wait to see what’s next and to explore the many exciting opportunities it will bring.” 

Kwok’s submission uses real-life examples and original animations and can be watched below.


The Breakthrough Junior Challenge has been going on since 2015 and this year it has attracted over 3,400 applicants, bright teenagers finding creative ways to deliver compelling scientific explanations.  

This year there was also the first chance to produce a special submission section focused on Space Exploration. The winner of the top-scoring Space Exploration video will be announced next January 5. 


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