Gianni Petrillo of Batavia, a 17-year-old student and a junior at St. Francis High School in Wheaton, is one of 30 semi-fnalists for the renowned international competition.
Gianni Petrillo of Batavia, a 17-year-old student and a junior at St. Francis High School in Wheaton, is one of 30 semi-fnalists for the renowned international competition.

BATAVIA – A lifelong passion for understanding space and star constellations has put Gianni Petrillo of Batavia on the cusp of possibly winning the Breakthrough Junior Challenge global science video competition.

Petrillo, a 17-year-old student and a junior at St. Francis High School in Wheaton, is one of 30 semifinalists for the renowned international competition.

The competition "is designed to inspire fresh, creative explanations of fundamental concepts in the life sciences, physics and mathematic," according to news release.

Petrillo heard of the competition through a school guidance counselor, later approaching his AP physics teacher for guidance.

For his first-ever video entry in the competition, Petrillo shot a video on dark matter. He dedicated his video to his late grandmother, who passed away last year and helped shape his passion.

"I'm pretty fascinated by space and that's something that's been lifelong for me," Petrillo said. "I knew that when we started talking about the topic of dark matter in AP physics, that I had my subject."

As a semifinalist, Petrillo is competing in a "Popular Vote" contest, open now until Sunday, Sept. 20 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific time. The video with the highest number of combined likes, positive reactions and shares will be declared top scorer in the 2020 Popular Vote. The top scorer will progress automatically to the final round of the competition, the release states.

Petrillo worked on his script for the video for months, eventually getting it down to three minutes. From start to finish, the process for the whole video took roughly five months.

The full video can be viewed and socially-interacted with here.

Also a varsity golfer, Petrillo had to also peer review other entries to the competition.

"I'd like to just tell other people about the competition, it's just a great thing," Petrillo said. "Anybody that has interest in the topics of math, physics or science, I think they should use their creativity and make a video like I did, because what could go wrong?"

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