Aussie teenager wins Asian Physics Olympiad

A Sydney Year 12 student has outperformed more than 200 students from 28 countries at the Asian Physics Olympiad, achieving the highest overall score at Asia’s toughest physics contest for high school students.

Fredy Yip from Knox Grammar School in Sydney won a gold medal at the competition along with two special awards for the highest laboratory mark and highest overall score in the competition. It is the highest achievement by an Australian student at the Asian Physics Olympiad (APhO), which is renowned for being one of the toughest physics competitions for high school students in the world.

“To prepare for APhO I focused on comprehending the fundamental and underlying principles of a concept over rote learning,” said Fredy Yip, who will take up a place at Cambridge University this year to study maths and physics.

“Fredy’s achievement is absolutely incredible against some of the world’s fiercest competitors in physics, including China and Russia. It is only the second time Australia has won a gold medal in 20 years of competing,” said Lachlan McGinness, Physics Program Director at Australian Science Innovations.

Fredy also won a gold medal at the International Mathematical Olympiad in 2020.

Eight Year 12 students were selected to represent Australia at APhO 2022. The students competed online from the Australian National University, sitting a theory and experimental exam, each five hours long.

Two other students from Sydney received an honourable mention at the competition: Vincent Ng from James Ruse Agricultural College, and Austin Lin from Barker College.

The APhO competition tests students’ physics theory knowledge, laboratory skills and critical thinking abilities. The students faced problems on the Stern-Gerlach experiment for determining the magnetic moment of the silver atom and the electron, phase transitions, and the absorption of light due to pollution. They also tackled simulated experiments on the Doppler effect involving a rotating sound source, and induced magnetic fields.

The eight students selected to represent Australia at APhO spent a year in exams and intensive training. They outperformed more than 1,000 other students who sat the qualifying exam across the country, making a shortlist of 30 to participate in intensive training prior to winning a place on the final team.

“Despite the ongoing disruptions of Covid-19, the Australian Science Olympiads program has continued to support talented science students to participate from across Australia via remote learning, and the students’ participation and achievements in the International Science Olympiad competitions continue to make an important contribution to Australia’s science future,” said Alyssa Weirman, Executive Director, Australian Science Innovations.

The Australian Science Olympiads program is run by not-for-profit Australian Science Innovations, based in Canberra. It is funded through the Australian Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda. The Australian National University is the program’s university partner.

The Australian team members who competed at the 2022 Asian Physics Olympiad are listed below:

Oscar Brown Year 12 Canberra Grammar School ACT
Lydia Colla Year 12 Loreto Kirribilli NSW
Evan La Fontaine Year 12 Normanhurst Boys High School NSW
Austin Lin Year 12 Barker College NSW
Sam Meredith Year 12 Brisbane State High School QLD
Vincent Ng Year 12 James Ruse Agricultural High School NSW
Tianxia (Thomas) Qiao Year 12 Carey Baptist Grammar School VIC
Fredy Yip Year 12 Knox Grammar School NSW