Miguel Arnold Reyes (left) and Gerico Sy (right). Photo courtesy of Roland Caballar.

That’s 2 out of 2!

The Philippines which  fielded  2  delegates bagged 2 bronze medals in the recently concluded 42nd International Physics Olympiad (IPhO) held in Bangkok, Thailand last July  10-18, 2011.

Miguel Arnold Reyes from the Philippine Science High School Main campus and Gerico Sy from the Philippine Science High School Davao campus managed to get the necessary points to be included in the bronze medal bracket.  Based on the official ranking, these kids got scores higher than 60% of the entire participants.  393 students from 84 countries  joined the Olympiad. Each country can send a maximum number of 5 participants.

The competition is composed of 3 theoretical and 2 practical exams.  This year’s theoretical exam include a three-body problem and the Laser Interferometry Space Antenna, solving for the necessary charge of a soap bubble to float perpetually on air, and a problem on the scattering of an ion by a neutral atom. On the other hand, the experimental questions include measurement of  capacitance of toothed capacitors and the experimental determination of the position and mass of a ball hidden inside a hollow cylinder.  Each questions are 10 points each and are extremely tough even for physics majors.   (Click image to go to the problems.)

The 3-body problem and LISA

The absolute winner came from Chinese Taipei and together with participants from China and Kazakhstan, is also the student who got the highest points in the theoretical exams. He also got the highest score for the practical exams.

Displacement measurement with toothed capacitors

What is especially note worthy is that according to the team’s Training Director Dr. Jose Perico Esguerra,

This is the team with the shortest training period since 2003.  

Dr. Esguerra said that this has been possible because these students had strong fundamentals even before the training commenced thru the efforts of Ms. Maria Veronica Torralba of the PSHS Diliman campus and the Physics units of the Diliman campus and the Davao campus.

Kristian Hauser Villegas, Mike Solis, Migel Catalig, and Tram Acuna from the National Institute of Physics (NIP), University of the Philippines Diliman also volunteered to train these students.  Dr. Roland Caballar also of the NIP, is head of the Philippine delegation in Thailand.

The Philippines has so far won 1 Silver Medal, 4 Bronze Medals, and 4 Honorable Mention certificates in its six most recent (including this) IPhO participations.  Sy’s bronze medal is the first IPhO medal from a student in Mindanao while the rest of the medals are ALL from students of the PSHS Diliman (Main) campus.

Miguel Arnold Reyes and Gerico Sy are actually familiar names in the international science competition scene.  Miguel or Migs bagged the second place Grand Award in this year’s Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) and had an asteroid named after him. While Gerico or Gico, was an honorable mention in the 4th International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics in Beijing, China.

The Philippine delegates were selected through a series of screening exams administered to the best physics students from some of the country’s top science high schools.

The International Physics Olympiad which started in 1967 in Warsaw, Poland, is the only competition in physics recognized by the International Commission on Physics Education.  Its counterpart events are the International Mathematics Olympiad (IMO), the International Biology Olympiad (IBO), the International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO), and the International Olympiad for Informatics (IOI).   These competitions are widely acknowledged as the pinnacle competition for students who are in high school or who just graduated from high school.  Most medalists of these competitions are sought after by prestigious universities.

The Philippine participation is financially supported by some members of the Samahang Pisika ng Pilipinas.