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Australia to host Asian Physics Olympiad for first time in 2019

Australia will host Asia’s toughest physics competition for high school students in 2019 thanks to funding announced in the Australian Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda yesterday.

The Asian Physics Olympiad will bring 200 of the region’s best and brightest teenagers from 25 countries to Australia for nine days of academic competitions and cultural activities.

Australia continues to experience a steady downward trend in the number of year 12 students enrolled in traditional sciences and mathematics. Although the total number of year 12 enrollments increased by 16% from 1992 to 2010, the number of students enrolled in physics has declined by 7%*.

With science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skilled jobs forecast to grow at 1.5 times faster than any other job sector**, bringing the Asian Physics Olympiads to Australia will provide a timely opportunity to showcase physics and it’s potential as a rewarding career to local students and their parents.

Australian Science Innovations, the not-for-profit organisation behind Australia’s representation at the International Science Olympiads was awarded the funding to bring the Asian Physics Olympiads to Australia.

“Just as you see a wave of soccer registrations following a football world cup, or participation in Little Athletics increase after the Olympics, we look forward to seeing an increase in the uptake of physics following the Asian Physics Olympiad,” said Lillian Lesueur, executive director of Australian Science Innovations. “We commend the Prime Minister on his recent science and innovation strategy and look forward to playing our role in creating Australia’s ideas boom.”

Australia has been competing in the Asian Physics Olympiads since it began in 2000.

The competition involves two five-hour long exams of university standard, one theory and one practical. Each country sends a team of eight competitors. Exams are undertaken individually, with bronze, silver and gold medals awarded to high-scoring students.

In 2015, the Australian team competed in China and won one silver and two bronze medals.

* The continuing decline of science and mathematics in Australian high schools. Kennedy, Lyons and Quinn (2014). Teaching Science Vol 60, number 2, 2014.

**“Progressing STEM Skills in Australia”, Australian Industry Group, March 2015.