La Châtaigneraie Year 12 student and 'Schrödinger's Club' team member Kara Koopman shares her impressions of the Swiss Young Physicists Tournament.
The Swiss Young Physicists Tournament (SYPT) is held annually and fully sponsored by Pro IYPT-CH to increase awareness of the International Youth Physicists Tournament (IYPT) as well as to find participants for the Swiss Team which competes in the IYPT. For the first time SYPT was held in Swiss Romande, being hosted by the EPFL in Lausanne on the 18th and 19th March 2017. SYPT is an intense two days of ‘physics fights’, this year with a total of 21 teams consisting of three members each. An individual ‘physics fight’ involves three teams where one member of each team must play either the role of reporter, opponent, or reviewer. The special nature of SYPT comes from this switching of roles. Participants are forced to present their project in front of an audience, oppose another participants’ projects by finding flaws or oversights, and review the work of the reporter and opponent. These three functions not only stretch one’s physics knowledge but also their public speaking skills in presenting and debating.
This year was La Châtaigneraie’s first time participating in SYPT with one team, named ‘Schrödinger’s Club’.
Because this was the first time La Châtaigneraie participated in SYPT, we had no clue what to expect of the competition or how it even worked. I did my project on a seemingly easy topic of finding a non-invasive way to determine whether an egg was cooked or raw; however, it turned out to be much more difficult than I expected. I spent hours devising a way to measure it, hours setting up and perfecting the apparatus, and hours collecting data. So, going into the competition I had a feeling that it was already over – that I had finished my project – and it hadn’t been all that rewarding. But my two days at SYPT changed how I looked at the whole process. Going in to the competition, my teammates and I were sure we would never want to do it again. Leaving it, we could not stop talking about what we would change to do better next year. The team came 10th out of 21 teams with one member ranked 6th out of the 63 participants. The top team and those who finished individually in the top ten had the opportunity to try out for the Swiss Team, which would involve taking an exam and then preparing and presenting the solution to a different problem. The Swiss Team will be participating in IYPT which takes place from the 5th to 12th of July in Singapore.
I thought that it was a great learning experience. I realized that even though it was overwhelming at first it felt good to push my understanding and feel that I was could figure things out. SYPT was a different way to look at physics. It involved competition and teamwork that one would not experience in the classroom. I strongly recommend participating in SYPT to anyone who is interested in physics and hopefully we can have more than one team next year!
Year 12 La Châtaigneraie Student