Have you ever heard of Xiao? No? Well, keep your ears open. Xiao, better known as Jason to his Lyceum friends, is one of the up-and-coming physicists of our time. This gifted boy took second place at the Swiss Young Physicists’ Tournament, short SYPT (for more: www.sypt.ch), where he convinced with his class mate Daniil the jury at the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). The Swiss Young Physicists’ Tournament is a Swiss competition, where physics enthusiasts from secondary schools from anywhere in Switzerland participate. In a preparatory phase, they conduct a small research project, the results of which are presented and defended at the actual tournament.
No wonder—just science
Jason and Daniil made their way through different challenges and now Jason, as one of the winners of the SYPT, gets the chance to show his skills at the IYPT. The International Young Physicists’ Tournament is the international counterpart to the national competition. Teams from all over the world compete against each other and take turns presenting and defending their solutions to a given problem, critiquing the solutions from opposing team and reviewing the performance of the two preceding teams. The performance of all three teams is assessed by a jury. The teams have to try to convince both opponents and jury of the quality of their scientific work, the results and their understanding of physics, as well. This year, the event will be held in Singapore from July 5 – 12, 2017. What does Jason himself think about his success? We met up with our new superbrain to ask him some questions.
Jason, why did you take part in the SYPT 2017? The Swiss Young Physicist Tournament?
Generally speaking, it’s because physics is one of my interests. I believe it’s a combination of mathematical skills and logical thinking, which is wonderful for me.
Besides, I attended the tournament in order to see what my level is compared to other schools in Switzerland. Obviously, even if I am one of the best in my class that doesn’t mean I would be top in other schools at all.
Tell us more about the tournament. What were your tasks? Which experiments did you perform?
My tasks were about two main topics, which I had to do a report on (ball in a tube / pulling glass apart). I also needed to study for other 6 topics for my roles as an opponent, reviewer and also helper.
How did you prepare for the SYPT 2017?
Since it’s a competition for ages before university, I needed to cover at least the IB level physics and associated math. (Otherwise I wouldn’t have stood a chance in front of many candidates who are older than me / Actually, I am the youngest among them.) Thus, I pretty much finished most of the concepts for IB physics and studied in depth on my topic (fluid mechanics). Also, I read a huge amount of literature about my topic to have a better picture and more accurate approach for my problem.
Who supported you?
Mostly, I had to learn these extra aspects by myself.
However, whenever I met some obstacles, I always asked my physics teachers, Mr. Kirf and Mr. Buehlmann for assistance, who were really helpful in spotting the mistakes I made and in guiding me to the correct path.
Especially, Daniil (who also attended the tournament) helped me a lot by accompanying me in the tournament and helping me with my experiments and problem.
Would you recommend this tournament to other students?
I would say it’s for the ones who are really interested in physics and who are willing to spend free time digging deep into these problems. It is really time consuming. If you want to get yourself well prepared, you legitimately need to know EVERYTHING about your topics.
What did you learn?
I think what I mostly learned was:
• Presentation skills
• Lots of physics and math
• Experimental skills
• Analyzing data
• Creativity (i.e. how you set up your experiments)
• Knowing the limitations of your own theory
• How to abstract vast amount of information and fit it into a 12-minute presentation on stage.
What are the next steps for the tournament in Singapore in 2017?
Fight for Switzerland and win.
Even now, we are very proud of Jason—but we’ll still keep our fingers crossed for the next big step in Jason’s life.