Columbus School Student Finalist in Worldwide Video Contest

Columbus School 12th grader Diego Garcia produced an innovative video explaining a complex mathematical concept for a contest sponsored by the Junior Breakthrough Challenge, with a top prize of a $250,000 scholarship.

The annual global competition requires students to produce a 5 minute video related to pure math concepts. Seeing the contest by mail and feeling confident about his experience making videos, Garcia asked for help from his calculus teacher Sam Edelstein. 

“I saw it by mail and I was like, Hey! I like to do videos and I have a really good teacher so he could help me out, so we could make a great team.” Garcia said.

Garcia’s has already achieved a spot in the finals, with the top ten videos advancing from 1000’s of entries from all over the world. The winner will be announced December 4th. Garcia credits his success to risk taking.

“If you think you are good at something do it. Don’t be scared of what you are because I thought my video wasn’t going to do that well, but in the end look where I am. If you think you are good at something do it and look how far you can go,” Garcia said.

The goal of his video, Optimization, Limits and Derivatives was to take a complex mathematical concept and explain clearly and simply how it works.  

“The video was about the concepts of limits, derivatives, and its application in differential calculus,” Garcia said.

The Breakthrough Challenge is not only a great experience for the contestants, but also a very enriching lesson from which they can learn new skills and abilities to become lifelong learners. It was a great opportunity for Garcia to improve his techniques, strengths and get new knowledge from other participants.

“I’ve seen a lot of videos from other contestants from the world and I feel very proud because by looking at them I can learn new techniques, new subjects but also prove to myself that I am also very good,” Said Garcia.

The Junior Breakthrough Challenge is an annual global competition for students aged 13th to 18th to use creative thinking and problem solving skills. The Challenge is organized by the Breakthrough Prize Foundation, sponsored run by the Chan Zuckerberg initiative and along with Khan Academy, National Geographic Channel and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

According to the contest website, “The Breakthrough Prizes were founded by Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki, Yuri and Julia Milner, and Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan. The Breakthrough Prize aims to celebrate the best scientific work and inspire the next generation of scientists.”

For Garicia’s advisor, AP Calculus teacher Sam Edelstein, the experience was both challenging and enriching.

“Well it’s been really cool.  I mean it’s been Diego’s initiative and work and I have been giving him advice but most of it has been his work and it has been really fun to see him do such a good job in that video,” Edelstein said.

Edelstein is using the video as part of his class instruction. material for class. 

“I think it’s very well made, it’s very interesting, creative, and explains very complicated concepts very simply,” Edelstein said.

With Garcia’s success in reaching one of the top 10 finalists, Edelstein express his thoughts in his achievements.

“I think that is a tremendous achievement. I think that no matter what happens now he can really move on and say that he did an amazing job. there were thousands of videos submitted from over a hundred countries and he is one of the top,” Edelstein  said.