Canada Wins Bronze at Physics World Cup
By Clara Chung
Toronto, ON – A team of six Canadian delegates won bronze medals at the 30th International Young Physicists’ Tournament (IYPT), often dubbed the ‘Physics World Cup’, last week. IYPT is one of the largest international physics competitions for youths, alongside the International Physics Olympiad (IPhO), and is highly recognized by top universities around the world.
Canada made its first IYPT appearance in July 2016 at Ural Federal University in Yekaterinburg, Russia. This year’s IYPT was hosted by the National University of Singapore from July 5th to 12th, and was attended by teams from 30 different countries from four continents. With only a single year of experience, the Canadian national team finished 14th this past Sunday, attaining a bronze medal with top competitors from South Korea and Switzerland. The team was composed of six Toronto-based high school students: Xiaoyang Chen (gr. 11 – team captain), Patrick Prochazka (gr. 11), Richard Zhu (gr. 10), Tian Miao Yu (gr. 11), Siyan He (gr. 12) and George Mo (gr. 11) lead by Ryan H. Lin and Xiaoran Jiang. This team of high school students comprises some of the top STEM talent in Canada; the students tackled advanced physical and mathematical theories, designed and conducted experiments, and analyzed data in preparation for this challenging tournament.
Each year, 17 open-ended physics problems are released for the students to research, experiment, and present their solutions in the following year’s competition. The roles of Reporter (Presentation), Opponent, and Reviewer are rotated among groups of teams, who are then graded by a jury of international experts. Whereas the IPhO is structured as theoretical and experimental exams, the preparation for IYPT imposes rigorous scientific methodologies that give a taste of what physics is truly about. The competition process itself requires the students to effectively communicate their findings with arguments clearly backed up with experimental data, and to consider different ways of unfolding seemingly simple problems. IYPT simulates the open-ended nature of research, allowing youths to hone an analytical approach useful in academia. Its international scale is a prime opportunity for precious interactions between brilliant young minds. For more information, please visit http://iypt.org.
Whereas the IYPT is limited to one team per country, each participating country is required to have their own annual national competitions as part of a selection process for their national team. Canada hosted their very first national tournament — the Canadian Young Physicists’ Tournament (CaYPT) — on March 25th, 2017 at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. Tremendous efforts had been put forth by a modest committee of three organizers to make the national-scale CaYPT happen this year. Nine teams attended the physics-filled day, connecting with peers and a jury composed of undergraduate to postdoctoral students studying at the Perimeter Institute and the University of Toronto. The winners of this tournament qualified to become the Canadian national team at the IYPT this year.
The current IYPT Member Organization for Canada is STEM Fellowship, a non-profit Canadian student-run organization. Along with CaYPT, STEM Fellowship organizes various STEM-based competitions and programs for youths such as the Big Data Challenge, which is recognized by major companies such as SAS and Microsoft. For more information, please visit www.stemfellowship.org.
To learn more about CaYPT and Canada’s contribution to the IYPT, please contact
Clara Chung, CaYPT Organizing Committee Head, STEM Fellowship