Vean Cordero ||
The Philippines secures a spot in the top 16 of the Breakthrough Junior Challenge (BJC) for the fourth time as Francine Oren T. Fabricante (18), a 12th-grader from Philippine Science High School – Main Campus, was announced as one of the finalists last September 21 with her video entry “Gravitational Waves: The Invisible Key to Unlocking Our Universe”.
The BJC is an annual global competition where students aged 13-18 are given a chance to explain and break down complex concepts or theories in life sciences, physics, and mathematics into a three-minute video. This year, the Breakthrough Prize Foundation added a new category, called Space Exploration (SE). The prize is an opportunity to attend a rocket launch that celebrates the anniversary of humanity’s 60 years in space, which is set to take place in 2022.
Fabricante’s video on gravitational waves was one of the three entries that received the highest scores from the evaluation panel. These, along with the top Space Exploration entry in the Popular Vote, will move to the final round of judging for the Space Exploration Champion. The announcement of winners and the award ceremony will happen sometime in November.
Fabricante was motivated to take part in this year’s challenge because of a webinar hosted by the UP Astronomical Society, wherein Mx. Beatrice Maquilan— who was part of the Top 10% of the BJC twice— was the guest speaker. “And because I turned 18 in May, joining the BJC 2021 would be my last chance. So, I decided to enter! If I didn’t, I knew I would regret it,” Fabricante said.
Through her journey in this competition, she has come to realize that science is an integration of the humanities and the arts. “We need people who could find the right words and visuals to explain it. Proper science communication is the key to making humanity understand the wonders and solutions science can provide, especially during this pandemic,” she expressed.
If she were to win this year’s BJC, Fabricante shared that she would use the $250,000 prize for her college needs and the $100,000 prize to help improve her school’s research facilities.
Fabricante plans to take up Biology as her major in college. However, if given the opportunity to study abroad, she wants to study in a school that can cater to her diverse interests in science. She also added that she wants to pursue Astronomy, so she hopes to take it as her minor.
Even after the competition, Fabricante wants to continue communicating science. “The Breakthrough Junior Challenge was a great opportunity to enhance my science communication skills. If I can continue to inspire more students, Filipinos, and women in STEM because of the way I present science, then I definitely won’t stop,” she said.
Finally, Fabricante shared this to all aspiring students: “If I could reach this far with my first entry in the BJC, with a phone as a recording device and no prior experience in animation, then nothing is impossible! The BJC is a chance to learn and learn from others. Just do your best and enjoy the process! Good luck, and I hope to see more Pisay entries in the future!”
Taking inspiration from Fabricante, it is possible to thrive in the competition, even without state-of-the-art cameras or expensive recording gadgets. You do not need to be experienced in video editing and animations, nor do one need to be knowledgeable in complicated science concepts to join and shine in the competition. What you need to do is to start, take action, and persist. Just begin with what you know, use what you have, do what you can, and learn as you go. You never know, you might be the next Filipino to win this prestigious competition.