Final round of the Physics Olympiad at MPQ

Four students and one female student earn ticket to international physics competition in Japan

From 11 to 16 April 2023, the 15 best physics students in all of Germany came together for the national final round of the Physics Olympiad. At the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (MPQ) in Garching, they faced tricky theoretical and experimental tasks from all areas of physics and experienced a varied supporting programme. The five best young talents will travel to Tokyo, Japan, in July as the German national team, where they will compete with young people from over 80 countries for Olympic medals.

The annual shortlist competition for the International Physics Olympiad (IPhO), the Physics Olympiad in Germany, is organised 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 federal states. Under the slogan: "Show your talent!", the Physics Olympiad challenges the knowledge and skills of physics-loving pupils from all over Germany as well as from German schools abroad with demanding and exciting tasks in four competition rounds. A wide range of support services help participants and their teachers and motivate them to engage intensively with physics topics. Every year, about 1000 pupils nationwide take part in the competition.

The tasks and experiments of the final round were designed by the competition management at the IPN and the task group of the Physics Olympiad. They offered the 15 young talents from eight German states a number of challenges. For example, torsional oscillations, the photo effect, state sums and stars as a three-body problem.

In addition to the exams, the young talents got a deeper insight into the work of various institutes in Garching. At the MPQ, they took part in laboratory tours and were able to broaden their horizons during a visit to the Center for Advanced Laser Applications (CALA) and the ESO Supernova. An excursion to the Deutsches Museum rounded off the social programme. Equally important, however, were the encounters with like-minded people and the lively exchange amongst each other.

At the awards ceremony on 16 April, the winners were honoured by Prof. Dr. Gerhard Rempe, Director at the MPQ, MR Thomas Sienz from the Bavarian State Ministry for Education and Cultural Affairs and Dr. Stefan Petersen, Head of the Physics Olympiad in Germany. A lecture by Prof. Dr. Thomas Udem (MPQ) provided the perfect physical setting. The five best young German physicists in 2023 and thus the members of this year's national team for the International Physics Olympiad are:
1st place: Anton Nüske, Martin-Andersen-Nexö-Gymnasium (Dresden, Saxony)
2nd place: Luise Köhler, Carl-Zeiss-Gymnasium (Jena, Thuringia)
3rd place: Oliver Eckstaedt, Martin-Andersen-Nexö-Gymnasium (Dresden, Saxony)
4th place: Christian Vogel, Max-Planck-Gymnasium (Groß-Umstadt, Hesse)
5th place: Luke Pospiech, Goetheschule Ilmenau (Thuringia)

The five Olympians will first attend more preparation seminars and then travel to Tokyo, Japan, in July for the International Physics Olympiad.

In addition, one candidate will have the opportunity to further deepen the impressions gained during the week through a research internship at the MPQ. This special prize went to: Miss Gioia Bannier from the boarding school Schloss Hansenberg (Geisenheim). But even the participants who did not win one of the main prizes in this round deserve recognition for their remarkable achievements - after all, they achieved a place in the final round out of more than 870 participants.

The competition management of the Physics Olympiad in Germany would like to thank all participants in the round for their support. Special thanks are due to the former participants in the competition and the student members of the jury team, without whom the round would not have been possible.

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