McQueen High School Senior Reaches Finals in International Competition

header image

For Immediate Release
Contact: Victoria Campbell



McQueen High School Senior Reaches

Finals in International Competition


Reno, NV (September 5, 2019) – McQueen High School Senior Larson Rivera has reached the finals in an international competition sponsored by Breakthrough Junior Challenge. If he wins the competition, the first prize is a $250,000 college scholarship, $100,000 for a Breakthrough Science Lab at McQueen High School, and a $50,000 prize for his math teacher, Carrie Hair.


Breakthrough Junior Challenge is an annual global competition for students, designed to inspire creative thinking about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) subjects. Students from around the world compete by creating a three-minute video that explains a difficult topic pertaining to math, physics, or biology.


In June, Rivera submitted a video entitled “A Brief Introduction to Integral Calculus”, a lighthearted and creative explanation of an admittedly difficult academic subject. He wrote, produced, and narrated the video himself. Shortly after submitting his project, Rivera learned that his video was among 75 submissions selected for the semi-finals.


“When designing my own lessons or presentations, my unspoken motto is, ‘If it isn’t engaging the audience, then it isn’t good enough,’” said Rivera, who is scheduled to graduate in June. “Whether I’m presenting about the fundamentals of electronics to my peers in the FIRST Tech Challenge Robotics League of Northern Nevada, or discussing a calculus problem with a classmate, I’m always looking for new ways to explain the subject matter. My submission for the Breakthrough Junior Challenge represents my desire to bring education to more people, because the natural curiosity that led me to appreciate science exists within everyone, and it shouldn’t be defeated by a system that fails to engage it. I can’t wait to be a part of the field of STEM, and I’m even more eager to learn how I can better communicate its wonders to the community.”


“Larson is a very inquisitive and charismatic student academically,” said Carrie Hair, who taught Rivera in her calculus class last year. “And while academic grades are very important to him, I see his true desire is to understand the concepts being taught as seen in his video. But what impressed me most was the background work he put into the video, hours spent in my room at lunch making sure he truly understood what he wanted to illustrate and many more hours outside of school thinking of creative ways to share this topic. Larson wants to grapple with the concepts in order to understand, and when he finally does, you see his excitement. It is contagious not only to his classmates but also to his teachers.”


Late last month, after more judging at the international level, Rivera learned that his video was among 30 projects selected from around the world to continue in the competition. Further judging will narrow the field to 15 finalists, including Most Popular (the video that receives the most social media attention) and Top Regional Finalists. Rivera’s submission is included in the United States and Canada region.


The 15 finalists will be announced on September 21, and the international winner will be announced in early November.


“When Ms. Hair first approached me about Larson and the Breakthrough Junior Challenge, I thought this is something very special,” said Amy Marable, principal of McQueen High School. “Larson is one of the most gifted students I have had the pleasure of knowing. He has taken the subject of calculus and applied it in a way that allows people to understand the complicated concepts in a real world sense. The McQueen community could not be more proud of his accomplishments and we wish him the best in the next level of competition."


To view and vote for Larson Rivera’s video via “likes,” comments, and shares, visit Breakthrough Prize or


For information about Breakthrough Junior Challenge, visit


Media Opportunity


What: Members of the media will have the opportunity to meet Larson Rivera, Teacher Carrie Hair, and Principal Amy Marable in Ms. Hair’s classroom at McQueen High School, where they can discuss his project and learn more about the Breakthrough Junior Challenge Competition.


When: Friday, September 6

           11:15 a.m. to 12 noon


Where: McQueen High School

            6055 Lancer St.



Who: Please go to the McQueen front office for directions to the classroom.



footer image
find us on facebook follow us on twitter WCSD Homepage #wearewcsd