In a sense, Ravenwood High School junior Sharada Ghantasala is bringing space down to Earth.
Through a video she produced and entered in the Breakthrough Junior Challenge competition, Ghantasala focuses on why space exploration is so significant in biomedical science research. She became one of 30 semifinalists in the international competition held annually, putting her in the running for a pool of $400,000 in prizes including a college scholarship and new science lab for the winner’s school.
“When I was really young, I was interested in biomedicine and biology in general, and my parents would take me to space camp at Tennessee State University,” Ghantasala explained. “I had fun, but I never really understood why space travel was important.”
Her folks took her to Kennedy Space Center a couple of years ago, and that visit inspired her to learn more about space travel and its importance to medicine.
When she saw that one of the Breakthrough Junior Challenge categories was space exploration, she hit on the idea to produce a video and enter the competition.
“I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to learn why we need space travel,” she said. “I wanted to research why space travel is significant to biomedicine scientists.”
The semifinalists’ videos are up on the competition’s Facebook page, and the general public can go there to vote for a people’s choice winner in the Popular Vote Challenge between now and Monday, Sept. 20.
Founded in 2015, the Breakthrough Junior Challenge is a global science video contest that encourages students to create engaging and imaginative videos that demonstrate difficult scientific concepts and theories in the physical or life sciences. Think Steven Spielberg meets Albert Einstein.
Ghantasala, who enjoys singing and dancing to Indian classical music, hopes to continue in the STEM field in the future to find less expensive solutions for health care.