Australia chooses first ever International Junior Science Olympiad team

Students to represent Australia from NSW, QLD, VIC, SA and WA

Australia has selected its first ever International Junior Science Olympiad team to compete in the world’s toughest science competition for junior high school students.

The International Junior Science Olympiad (IJSO) is part of the UNESCO-sanctioned International Science Olympiads. It is the world’s only multi-disciplinary science competition for students aged 15 or younger.

Six Year 9 and 10 students from Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney and Alstonville NSW have outperformed thousands of other students in qualifying exams and intensive training, all run remotely, to win ultimate selection to the Australian team.

The students will travel to Canberra in December to compete in the IJSO’s two individual theory exams and a team practical exam over seven days. They will compete for gold, silver and bronze medals. An additional three students have been selected as team reserves, who will participate if any of the first six team members are unable to travel.

“There is so much potential in Australia among students who want to learn and apply science at a higher level, and the Australian Junior Science Olympiad program gives them an opportunity to really accelerate their knowledge, improve their confidence, and develop their thinking about where science can lead,” said program director Dr Kathryn White.

IJSO training included five weeks of self-paced study, followed by an intensive study camp for a group of 24 Year 8, 9 and 10 students, who were shortlisted based on their performance in the Junior Science Olympiad exam. They succeeded in learning a significant proportion of Year 11 and Year 12 biology, chemistry and physics concepts in just one week in preparation for the international competition.

“It is exciting to be running the Australian Junior Science Olympiad program to give talented junior high school students an opportunity to compete at such a high level on the world stage. There is nothing else like this in Australia that provides a serious extension opportunity for students at this age,” said Ruth Carr, executive director, Australian Science Innovations.

“Our program also includes a Junior Science Olympiad Training Squad for 50 students from regional, rural and lower social-economic regions to address gaps in access to opportunities for science extension and training for the Junior Science Olympiad exam,” said Carr.

The IJSO is an annual competition hosted by a different country each year, to which students from approximately 70 countries usually travel to compete. The 2021 host is the United Arab Emirates, but this year students around the world will compete remotely in their home countries owing to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

This year’s inaugural Australian team for the IJSO includes Year 10 student, Lauren Singh from Alstonville, NSW, who learned about the International Junior Science Olympiad opportunity while participating in the national Curious Minds program, which extends and mentors female students in Science, Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM).

“I absolutely loved the Curious Minds mentoring, and I would never have thought it would lead me to this amazing opportunity to compete in science for Australia. I have learned something every day in training for the International Junior Science Olympiad, and I can’t wait to represent Australia, my school, Alstonville High School, and my hometown of Alstonville,” said Lauren.

This year marks the 35th anniversary of Australia’s participation in the International Science Olympiads. Since 1987, the Australian Science Olympiads program has helped thousands of talented high school students to unlock their potential and passion for science.

Australia’s International Science Olympiads programs are run by not-for-profit Australian Science Innovations. The Australian Junior Science Olympiad is supported by Ixom. 

The Australian team members for the 2021 International Junior Science Olympiad are:

  • Kelvin Chan, Year 9 Queensland Academy for Science, Mathematics & Technology, Brisbane QLD
  • Liam Chen, Year 9 Scotch College, Melbourne VIC
  • Heidi Gong, Year 9 St Peter’s Collegiate Girls School, Adelaide SA
  • Jacinta Rees, Year 10 Meriden School, Sydney NSW
  • Atharva Sathe, Year 9 Perth Modern School WA
  • Lauren Singh, Year 10 Alstonville High School, Alstonville NSW 

    Reserves

  • Eason Yang, Year 8 Trinity Grammar School, Melbourne VIC
  • Wendy Chen, Year 10 Methodist Ladies College, Melbourne VIC
  • Julia Mallam, Year 9 St Catherine’s School, Sydney NSW