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National round of the International Physics Olympiad: The 15 best students qualified for the finals

March 1st, 2021

Talented youths reach for the stars at the Physics Olympiad

From February 22 to 28, 2021, 52 physics-loving students from 14 German states took part in the national round of the Physics Olympiad in Germany, which was held entirely online for the first time. Despite these special circumstances, the young participants enjoyed a varied social program in addition to the exams - which included a variety of topics, including but not limited to physics. The 15 participants were named at the final awards ceremony, and by making it to the German finals, they have come close to their dream of a place on the national team of the International Physics Olympiad.

The annual selection competition for the International Physics Olympiad (IPhO), the Physics Olympiad in Germany, is organized by the Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education (IPN) in Kiel on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and in cooperation with the Ministries of Education of the German states. Under the motto: "Show your talent!", the Physics Olympiad challenges the knowledge and skills of physics-loving students from Germany and German schools abroad with demanding and exciting tasks in four rounds of competition. Participants and their teachers are supported by a wide range of support programs that motivate them to engage intensively with physics topics.

The young physicists in this year's national round qualified for this third round of the competition in two preliminary rounds from among more than 940 students from all over Germany and beyond. Due to the current contact restrictions, the round was planned as a purely online event - a particular challenge both in the organization and implementation of the competitions as well as for the conception of a supporting program that offers the students an insight into exciting physics topics and opportunities for exchange with each other beyond the actual competition.

Thus, participants were able to experience seminars, virtual tours at DLR, round tables with former participants of the competition, and even a fireside lecture on symmetries in physics and music. In addition, an online escape room was played for non-physical recreation. Even though the atmosphere of an online event cannot be compared with that of a face-to-face national round, there were still opportunities for an exchange with each other and with the participants in the individual program events.

In the four three-hour examinations of the national round, the grey cells of the physics-loving students were challenged with theoretical and experimental tasks across the field of physics. There were questions about bottle condensers, swing-by maneuvers of a probe on Venus, the Gulf Stream and a leak in a space station. For the experimental exams, the participants were sent sealed packets of materials in advance, which they were not allowed to open until the start of the exam. Thematically, an electrical black box with resistors, capacitors and a battery was examined on the one hand, and collisions of sliding coins as a model for particle collisions on the other. The tasks were very challenging for the students, but were also perceived as very interesting.

At the award ceremony, Dr. Lutz Schröter, President of the German Physical Society (DPG), and ESA astronaut Dr.-Ing. Matthias Maurer highlighted the special achievements of the participants in a video message. Dr. Stefan Gillesen (MPE) then took the students on a journey to the stars with his keynote speech on the black hole at the center of the Milky Way. The physical framework was rounded off by an experimental demonstration on the schlieren method by Dr. Oliver Boguhn (DLR_School_Lab Göttingen). Finally, in the award ceremony, the 15 best young talents were invited to the national final round of the competition. These are:

1st place - Théo Lequy, Werner-von-Siemens-Gymnasium (Magdeburg)

2nd place - Maximilian Hauck, Elisabeth-Langgässer High School (Alzey)

3rd place - Felix Roth, Carl-Zeiss-Gymnasium (Jena)

4th place - Andreas Feuerpfeil, Alexandrinum Gymnasium (Coburg)

5th place - Sebastian Hilscher, Reutershagen High School (Rostock)

6th place - Jonas Bröring, Wilhelm-Gymnasium (Braunschweig)

7th place - Anton Tizian Haas, Max-Steenbeck-Gymnasium (Cottbus)

8th place - Sean Sdahl, Paracelsus-Gymnasium (Stuttgart)

9th place - Tim Enders, Goetheschule (Ilmenau)

10th place - Lukas Tyben, Gymnasium Nordhorn (Nordhorn)

11th place - Constantin Pfannschmidt, Penzberg Grammar School (Penzberg)

12th place - Gleb Ryabtsev, Max-Planck-Gymnasium (Saarlouis)

13th place - Jonas Hübner, Friedrichsgymnasium (Kassel)

14th place - Kilian Glodny, Humboldt-Gymnasium (Potsdam)

15th place - Jonas Spiller, Humboldt School (Bad Homburg v. d. Höhe)

In the final round, they may not quite be able to reach for the stars, but they are already very close to a place on the German national team for the 51st International Physics Olympiad in Vilnius.

Four particularly young students also received an invitation to the selection seminar at this year's European Science Olympiad (EUSO) for their achievements. Here, they can qualify for the all-science team competition, which is planned by the host country Hungary as an online competition. The four are: Tim Enders (Ilmenau), Nico Enghardt (Dresden), Sebastian Trunk (Amorbach) and Emil Staikov (Berlin).

But even the participants who did not achieve one of the main prizes in this round deserve recognition for their remarkable achievements. The DPG, the Spektrum der Wissenschaft publishing house and the Casio Company agree and rewarded the students with a one-year subscription to a scientific journal and a calculator.

The competition management of the Physics Olympiad in Germany would like to thank everyone involved in the round for their support during these special times. Special thanks are due to the former participants of the competition and student members of the jury team who supervised the exams, corrected and moderated the results and without whom the round would not have been possible.

Contact (competition management at the IPN)

Dr. Stefan Petersen

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Phone: +49 (0)431 880-5120