Orchard Student Enters Prestigious Science Competition, Credits Teachers For Fostering Her Passions

Sierra Krichiver ’21 has been interested in outer space for as long as she can remember. She gives a lot of credit to her teachers at The Orchard School for always finding impactful ways to help her grow that passion. From life-changing field trips to the Challenger Center to engaging classroom conversations, Orchard has fostered her love of learning.
Earlier this year, Sierra was finally able to enter the sixth annual Breakthrough Junior Challenge co-sponsored by the Khan Academy. Teens ages 13-18 can submit a complex three-minute-long video about a science or math topic, and the winner gets a large college scholarship($250,000), and their school gets a new science lab! Sierra will find out this Saturday if she makes it through to the public voting round. If that happens, we’ll need the Orchard community to rally. Stay tuned and good luck, Sierra!
Watch her video submission and read her Q&A below!

Where did you feel like your love for outer space comes from? 
I have always had a love for outer space, but Orchard definitely helped me grow that passion. In particular, I had several teachers that really challenged me and allowed me to learn more about space. Mr. (Scott) Weaver is absolutely one of those teachers. He was my homeroom teacher in fourth grade and my math teacher in sixth grade. He would always find ways to help me discover more about space and all the fascinating things about it. Even now, he continues to send me a steady stream of news articles about the latest black hole discovery or a new supernova explosion. He inspired me in so many ways and showed me all the possibilities for my future. Additionally, my friends and family all encouraged me so much to follow my passion for space. Although they might not share the same fascination I do, they are always there to listen to me rant about the most recent thing I learned about the universe, and they are so supportive.
How did you hear about The Breakthrough Junior Challenge and what made you decide to enter?
I first heard about the Breakthrough Junior Challenge through Mr. Weaver. He had heard about it and sent the link to several of his previous students, myself included. I have always been a person who enthusiastically takes on challenges, just for fun. When I heard that there was a worldwide science/math competition for people my age, I was immediately interested. I learned more about the competition and watched some previous winners' videos. From that point on, I was decidedly committed, and I spent two months creating my video for the competition.
In terms of the video and content you created, was that all you?
Yes, all the components of the video are my original content, with the exception of a few photos and gifs I got from the internet. Besides that, I wrote my own script, used my own models, and did all of the editings for the video. When I first entered the competition, I don't think I realized exactly how much work was going to have to be put into my video. I filmed and re-filmed, edited and re-edited, and even cut out entire sections of my video to fit the time limit. It was a very time-consuming project, one that took hours of work spread out over the course of two months. However, despite all the work, it was so worth it. When I watched my finished video at the end of the two months, I felt so proud and accomplished, and I am planning to make another video next year, and the year after that, until I reach the age limit of 18.
You find out soon if your video makes it to public voting. How are you feeling?
I am definitely feeling nervous, but I am also very eager and excited to find out the results. For me, this whole competition was not about the monetary prize or the public recognition. It was really about challenging myself to create something amazing and learning so much about space along the way. That has definitely happened. However, it would mean so much to me to hear that I made it to the next round of the competition, which is the popular vote. In this round, the top 30 videos will be posted on Youtube, and the videos that get the most views, likes, comments, and shares will continue on to the next round. This means that if I make it to the popular vote, I am counting on the Orchard community to help me get to the next round! It would be truly amazing to have that support of my school community in this journey I've embarked on. 
How has Orchard supported your passion for science over the past eight years?
Orchard has supported my passion for science so much throughout the eight years I've been here. As I said before, Mr. Weaver played a big part in supporting me, but there were lots of other teachers that did too. For example, last year, Mr. (Brendan) Chandler was my science teacher. Although he and I have passions for different topics in science, he supported my passion for space so much throughout the seventh grade. In fact, he even set me up for a meeting with a professional astrophysicist for my video! It was an amazing experience, and I'm very grateful to Mr. Chandler for that. 
Another example of how Orchard has supported my passion for science over the years is by giving me so many great experiences that helped grow that passion. One specific memory I have was in sixth grade when we took our class trip to St. Louis. One of the many things we did there was taking a trip to the Challenger Center. While we were there, we got to have our own "rocket launch," where each student had a different job that a real scientist would have on mission control at NASA. I got to have the job that I actually want to have when I grow up, which was super cool. It really showed me all the possibilities for my career. I am so thankful to Orchard for giving me that experience, along with so many others.

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