Australian students bring home gold at International Science Olympiads

When it comes to solving the critical problems of the future, Australia is in safe hands. Five Australian high school students have won gold medals in the world’s most difficult science competition, the International Science Olympiads.

Seventeen students representing 13 schools from the ACT, NSW, Victoria and Queensland took part in the prestigious 2022 International Science Olympiads, a series of challenges covering subjects including biology, chemistry, earth science and physics.

In addition to the five gold medals, Australia’s young science Olympians brought home seven silver and five bronze medals across the four Olympic disciplines.

The biggest success was the International Earth Science Olympiad, in which Australian students won four gold, three silver and one bronze. Earth science combines skills in geology, meteorology, environmental science and terrestrial astronomy to understand the processes that shape our planet, and look for solutions to problems such as climate change, protection of natural resources, environmental sustainability and natural disaster mitigation.

NSW student Edmond Wu from Knox Grammar School achieved the highest individual score of all competitors in the Earth Science Olympiad, the second year in a row an Australian student has taken out the honour. Other gold medal winners in earth science included Sean Roe from John Monash Science School in Victoria, Lauren Singh from Alstonville High School in NSW and Adrian Lehane from Narrabundah College in the ACT.

The fifth Australian gold medal was won by another Knox Grammar School student, Fredy Yip, in the International Physics Olympiad, which also saw two silver and two bronze medals go to Australian students. In May 2022, Fredy Yip also won a gold medal and the highest ranking at the Asian Physics Olympiad.

In the International Chemistry Olympiad Australia won two silver medals along with two bronze.

A total of 800 students from 89 nations took part in online exams across the four individual International Science Olympiads events in July and August. Australia maintained its ranking within the top twenty countries in the world based on total medal count.

To be selected to compete in the International Science Olympiads, Australian competitors must take part in the Australian Science Olympiad exams and summer school, run by non-profit organisation Australian Science Innovations (ASI).

“We’re delighted, but not surprised, by the amazing results achieved by our International Science Olympians,” ASI Executive Director Alyssa Weirman said.

“Young Australians have a deep concern about the legacy we leave for future generations. Ninety-five per cent of the students who attend our summer school are looking to pursue science careers because they want to make a difference.

“This year, 8,500 high school students registered for the Australian Science Olympiads exams, in the hope of being selected to represent Australia in the international competitions, and also to increase their chances of achieving a place at university that will lead to a rewarding career in science, technology, engineering or maths.”

Ms Weirman said science was the key to solving some of the most pressing global challenges, and that young people from all walks of life could make a valuable contribution.

“You don’t have to be the smartest kid in school to become a great scientist,” she said. “Science is about problem solving and critical thinking. The very best outcomes can be achieved by having a diversity of thought, background and experience in the science community. Just like the sporting Olympics, the key to success is commitment, perseverance, practice and training.”

Ms Weirman said the 2022 International Science Olympiad winners represented a very bright future for Australia, joining the ranks of high-profile former International Science Olympians including Professor Elizabeth New, now School of Chemistry Professor at the University of Sydney, Professor Duncan Watts, professor of computer science, communications and business at the University of Pennsylvania, and quantum chemist and UNSW lecturer Dr Laura McKemmish.

Olympiad programs are funded through the Australian Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda. Additional support for the Science Olympiads is provided by the Australian National University.

Australian Science Olympiad (ASO) Exams are the first step for high school students interested in representing Australia in the International Science Olympiads. Registrations for the 2023 exams open mid next year. For more information visit www.asi.edu.au 

Note: The Australian team selected for the International Biology Olympiad was unable to compete in the 2022 International Science Olympiads as a virtual competition could not be offered this year.