Singapore is privileged to play host for the first time to the 30th International Young Physicists’ Tournament (IYPT) held from 5 – 12 July 2017. IYPT is a competition that tests the ability of pre-university students to solve complicated scientific problems, present their solutions in a convincing form and defend them in scientific discussions.
After months of hard work in preparation for the 30th IYPT, 31 international teams comprising 290 young physicists, jurors and observers finally convened at University Town, National University of Singapore, the venue of the tournament. This year also marked the highest participation in the history of IYPT.
At the opening ceremony, Prof Sow Chorng Haur, Chairman of the Local Organising Committee and head of the Department of Physics, welcomed all visitors to NUS for the 30th IYPT. This year’s event was specially graced by Dr Evgeny Yunosov, the IYPT founder. In his speech, Dr Yunosov highlighted the very important role that IYPT has played in the education of young physicists all around the world. Prof Martin Plesch, President of IYPT, expressed his happiness that IYPT was held in Singapore this time. Guest of honour Mr Quek Gim Pew, Chief Defence Scientist, Ministry of Defence, spoke about the importance of the scientific community building networks among different countries and cultures to enhance mutual understanding and to facilitate exchanges of ideas and knowledge.
There were ten discussions, also known as Physics Fights, which were held concurrently for each fight session. The three teams present in each fight would take on the role of reporter, opponent or reviewer and the roles would be swamped for three rounds. The presentation made by the reporter would be challenged by the opponent during a time of discussion. The reviewer would have to summarise and review what they had observed.
A common scene was a reporter crossing swords with his or her opponent. But often comments on the reports were also put across thoughtfully as the teams took on the role of reviewer. Some spoke rapidly while others in more measured tones. No matter what style of presentation, it was clear right from the start that all the teams were passionate about what they were sharing.
In between the physics fight sessions, participants were brought on a city and lab tour which was certainly a good break for them. They also had a chance to be immersed in our garden city with a visit to the Gardens by the Bay.
The momentum gathered more strength as each team put forth their best in the last few rounds of debates. At a few occasions it seemed there was a clear venture into physics that proved beyond the level of comprehension for opposing and reviewing teams. Nonetheless there was no lack of points of contention from misinterpretation of problem to unsystematic investigation. It was interesting to see how the same problem could be solved using different approaches.
After four days of intense fights and more than five hours of fierce debates for the final Physics Fight, the verdict was finally out—Team Singapore obtained the highest score from jurors and emerged the champion of the 30th IYPT!
One could feel a tinge of relief hanging in the air as the competition finally came to a close. Deeper knowledge was gained, debating skills sharpened and new friendships formed. What an exciting week it must have been for everyone!
As the saying goes, “Everything that has a beginning has an end.” Or is it? It may be the end of a great tournament, but for all the young physicists, may the IYPT inspiration in them live on for many years to come.
For more reports and photos on the 30th IYPT, read here.