Meet Hasith Vattikuti: One of Two DFW-Based Breakthrough Junior Challenge Semifinalists

Out of only 30 semifinalists in the world, this Flower Mound student has managed to make it to the competition's "Popular Vote" stage.

For Venkata Vattikuti, who goes by Hasith, this isn’t his first time participating in the Breakthrough Junior Challenge. The 15-year-old student made it to the top 20 percent last year. But, he’s made it even further this year by reaching the semifinal round—and the competition isn’t over yet. 

Vattikuti originally heard about the competition through Khan Academy, which is a partner of the Breakthrough Prize Foundation and a nonprofit organization that offers free educational content.

“I love to make videos and learn about science, and it seemed really natural for me to participate in the contest,” Vattikuti told Dallas Innovates

Vattikuti explaining how black holes work in his Breakthrough Junior Challenge video entry. [Image: Courtesy Hasith Vattikuti via YouTube]

After reading Stephen Hawking’s “A Brief History of Time,” Vattikuti came up with the idea to make his Breakthrough Junior Challenge video about black holes. 

“I was really inspired by what he wrote, every single page was really interesting,” Vattikuti says, “and the thing that stood out the most was Hawking’s dedication, which I made my video on.”

Vattikuti spent the beginning of his summer break creating the video at home all on his own. He used a combination of graphic design and household items like M&Ms and rice to help bring the informational science video to life. 

“I feel lucky that I’m situated in Dallas because that’s really how I came to all of these resources and really got this far in the competition,” Vattikuti says.

You can check out and vote on Hasith’s video here

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