High School Senior Wins $400,000 for Explaining Special Relativity

Caitlin Schneider

When it comes to Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity, it’s fair to say that many of us could use a little help understanding its basic precepts. Ohio high school student Ryan Chester can help with that.

The 18-year-old senior is the first-ever winner of the Breakthrough Junior Challenge, a new college scholarship for students ages 13 to 18 who are interested in math and science. Chester’s seven-minute entry on the subject beat 2000 other applicants from 86 countries around the world.

The video, called "Some Cool Ways to Understand the Special Theory of Relativity and What It Means About Time,” takes on the big concepts of time, space, and motion using fun demonstrations, graphics, and easy-to-understand language. He wrote, filmed, directed, edited, and created all the graphics for the project himself.

As the winner, Chester took home $400,000 in prizes: a $250,000 scholarship, $50,000 for a teacher of his choice, and $100,000 for his school’s science lab. Chester chose to give the $50,000 to his AP physics teacher, Richard Nestoff, who helped inspire the project.

Chester is planning on studying film in college with a possible minor in engineering, but if his award-winning video is any indication, he could also become the kind of teacher who energizes the kind of student he is now.  

[h/t IFLScience]