Last summer, Clements High School senior Sudharshini Prasanna was sitting with her younger sister brainstorming ideas for the Breakthrough Junior Challenge video competition when her stomach growled.
Her younger sister laughed, but Prasanna had another idea – to explore and educate others on the inner workings of the process behind a bodily function that everyone experiences at one point or another. And last month, her 3-minute education video was selected as one of 30 semifinalists in the annual international competition.
“It just explores the interaction between the nervous system and the gastrointestinal system – basically the reason why the stomach growls when it’s empty,” the 17-year-old Prasanna said. “It’s kind of a complex phenomenon, but I tried to break it down, and make it funny and simple for people to understand.”
She submitted her video in June, and it was selected out of hundreds of videos from around the world as one of the top 75 submissions that were to be evaluated by a panel of judges. It was from that grouping that her video was one of 30 semifinalists, which was announced in mid-August.
“It just made me really happy (when I found out),” she said.
Since Sept. 5, Prasanna’s video has been posted on the Breakthrough Challenge’s Facebook page. People around the world have been voting on the videos, according to the competition’s website. The entry which gets the highest combined total of “likes” and positive reactions on the original post of their video by the end of the day Monday will be named Popular Vote Top Scorer and will automatically be named a finalist. There will also be a regional champion in each of seven regions – North America, Central American, Europe, Asia, India, Middle East/Africa, and Australia/New Zealand – who will be named finalists.
Winners were set to be announced on Tuesday – but whatever the outcome, Prasanna was already over the moon with simply making it this far, and hopes her work can go beyond the competition.
From there, electrical waves occur in the small intestine after it comes from the stomach. Those electrical waves are what create the rumbling sound, according to Prasanna. There are four phases to the process, she said, all of which can last a number of minutes – which is why people will often hear the stomach growling intermittently as opposed to doing so in one chunk.
“I had the realization that it’s a funny topic, and it’s also something that people like my sister and those her age would want to know,” she said.
For more information about the competition, visit breakthroughjuniorchallenge.org/.