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Teenage Olympians go for gold at the Asian Physics Olympiad

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Eight of Australia’s top performing student physicists competed against 170 of Asia’s smartest kids representing 22 countries and regions at the Asian Physics Olympiad held at the Adelaide Convention Centre from 6 to 12 May. 

The Australian Year 11 and 12 students were from Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Canberra and Sutton, NSW. They competed in theoretical and experimental exams that drew on first-year university physics, and tried to win gold for Australia. 

The students have spent a year in exams and intensive training to make the cut, outperforming more than 1700 other students who sat the qualifying exam.

“For me to represent Australia at the Asian Physics Olympiad was a dream come true. I am here because of my brilliant science teachers who encouraged me to have a go,” says team member Rosemary Zielinski from Merici College in Canberra. 

“These young science champions deserve our support because their talent will help drive the deep science and technologies on which our future prosperity in Australia and the region will depend,” says Prof Caroline McMillen, Chief Scientist for South Australia.

The Asian Physics Olympiad is Asia’s toughest physics competition for high school students.

“Hosting this competition in Australia for the first time provides an important opportunity to champion our young science talent, as well as shine a spotlight on Australian science education and Australian physics,” says Ruth Carr, Executive Director of official organiser, Australian Science Innovations.  

Competitors sat the theoretical exam on 7 May, followed by the experimental exam on 9 May. The exams are marked twice and moderated by each participating country’s team leaders before the final marks are decided. Participants received medals and awards based on their exam scores at the closing ceremony on 12 May.

The week-long Asian Physics Olympiad program also included a range of cultural and educational activities, including a quantum computing presentation by 2018 Australian of the Year Professor Michelle Simmons, visits to local schools and universities, and an introduction to Australian Rules Football.

The 20th Asian Physics Olympiad is brought to Australia by Australian Science Innovations and is funded by the Federal Department of Industry, Innovation and Science.

The Australian team members for the 20th Asian Physics Olympiad were:

Stephen Catsamas, Year 12, Marcellin College , VIC

Benjamin Davison-Petch, Year 12, Christ Church Grammar, WA

Min-Je Hwang, Year 12, James Ruse Agricultural College, NSW

Alexander Lin, Year 11, The King’s School, NSW

Jessie Lum, Year 12, Pymble Ladies’ College, NSW

William Sutherland, Year 12, Scotch College, VIC

Simon Yung, Year 12, Narrabundah College, ACT

Rosemary Zielinski, Year 12, Merici College, ACT

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