30th International Young Physicists’ Tournament 2017

 

Singapore hosted the 30th International Young Physicists’ Tournament (IYPT), held from 5 to 12 July, for the first time.

IYPT is one of the world's foremost annual physics competitions centred on research problems, teamwork, and discussion-based sessions judged by expert physicists.

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The 30th IYPT was held for the first time in Singapore

After months of hard work, 31 international teams comprising 290 young physicists, jurors and observers, convened at University Town to take part in a series of ‘Physics Fights’. This year marked the highest participation in the history of IYPT. 

Teams were greeted by a lion dance performance at the start of the opening ceremony. Prof SOW Chorng Haur, Chairman of the Local Organising Committee and Head, Department of Physics, welcomed visitors for the 30th IYPT and encouraged them to experience multicultural Singapore. 

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A vivacious lion dance performance kicked off the Opening Ceremony 

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Prof Sow Chorng Haur welcomed visitors for the 30th IYPT 

This year’s event was especially meaningful with the presence of IYPT founder Dr Evgeny YUNOSOV. In his opening speech, Dr Yunosov highlighted the important role that IYPT has played in educating young physicists around the world. IYPT President Prof Martin PLESCH then shared how the competition had grown over the years and noted that Singapore, the host country, had successfully competed in the past.

The Guest-of-Honour Mr QUEK Gim Pew, Chief Defence Scientist, Ministry of Defence, spoke about the importance of building networks amongst the scientific community across different countries and cultures, to facilitate the exchange of ideas and knowledge. He also noted that IYPT is a clear signal that physics is thriving and continues to intrigue the best minds of every generation.

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IYPT founder Dr Evgeny Yunosov highlighted IYPT’s role in educating young physicists around the world

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IYPT President Prof Martin Plesch shared how the IYPT competition had grown over the years

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Guest-of-Honour Mr Quek Gim Pew noted the importance of networking amongst scientific communities

During the competition, the sense of tension was palpable as secondary and high school students teamed up to solve complicated scientific problems and to present and defend their solutions through scientific discussions at the ‘Physics Fights’. From explaining theories like Fermat’s principle to the Van der Pol system, every statement was well-supported and in many cases via experimental data. 

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Teams fought hard to defend their theories and solutions during the intensive ‘Physics Fights’

After four days of intense fights, Team Hungary, Team Poland, Team China and Team Singapore emerged as the top four teams. In the final ‘Physics Fight’, discussions involving Archimedes’ principle, Fresnel-Kirchhoff diffraction pattern and the use of Discrete Fourier Transform and Euler Lagrange equation were thrown out.

It was a great battle, one fought with clarity of thought and insight of physics, in a race against time but the teams performed well under great pressure. When the last round of score cards was raised, loud applause greeted the announcement of the champion for IYPT 2017 - Team Singapore!

Team Singapore comprised Markus LENDERMANN and LI Kang Chen from NUS High School of Mathematics and Science, and WANG Huaijin, Rachel PANG Qing and FU Xinghong from RaffIes Institution. They said, “We got the opportunity to learn as much as we could from participants from other countries while spending time with them.”

The award ceremony took place barely an hour after the final ‘Physics Fight’. Following a five-minute video snippet, Prof Sow acknowledged the fulfilment that the 30th IYPT had brought to every young physicist. He also thanked his colleagues and student ambassadors for their tireless support and contributions to make the event a success. 

The Guest-of-Honour Ms CHAN Lai Fung, Permanent Secretary (Education), Ministry of Education, was impressed with the competition format and praised IYPT for training young scientists. She encouraged the young physicists to also develop communication and collaborative skills even as they aspire to be domain experts. 

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 Guest-of-Honour Ms Chan Lai Fung encouraged young physicists to develop communication and collaborative skills

Participants received their certificates and medals on stage, with some teams adorned in traditional costumes. There were also dance and choir performances by high school students to mark this special occasion. 

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A group photo with the top four teams

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Team Singapore emerged as champions!

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Performances marked the special occasion

In addition to the ‘Physics Fights’, various social, cross-cultural and education programmes were organised for student participants, jury members and officials. Participants were treated to an afternoon city tour and a fun outing at Universal Studios Singapore. They also had the opportunity to visit some of the laboratories and research centres at the Department of Physics and to experience a portable digital planetarium.

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Visit to the Physics Department

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Participants got to experience a portable digital planetarium

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 Participants were treated to a city tour and a visit to Universal Studios Singapore

Participants gave glowing feedback of their experience in the competition and discovering Singapore.

Team Australia said, “Participating in the IYPT gave us an opportunity to discuss physics concepts with people all over the world.”

Team Brazil said, “We met people with similar interests in science and specifically, physics and technology development. We believe that interacting with new cultures will bring about new perspectives in our work. Singapore is a melting pot of many cultures and ethnicities, one of the most diverse and beautiful countries I’ve visited.”

Team leaders and jurors from Sweden said, “IYPT gives students the ability to perform research in a controlled environment - to learn about theory and to develop themselves as scientists, physicists and as curious people.”

The IYPT 2017 in Singapore was organised by a committee comprising members from NUS, the National Institute of Education (NIE), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), DSO National Laboratories, the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) and Institute of Physics Singapore, with the support of the Ministry of Education (MOE).