Posted on 24 September, 2021

International Science Olympiad Success

International Science Olympiad Success

Earlier this year Darwin High School Year 12 student Olivia Anderson was selected to represent Australia at the world's toughest science competition for teenagers - the UNESCO-sanctioned International Science Olympiads.

Olivia was one of 21 students selected to represent Australia, and the only student selected from the NT to be selected in the past 17 years.

Selected for the Australian team involved many steps. Olivia first sat the Australian Science Olympiads entrance exams in August last year. This led to her selection to attend the Australian Earth Science Summer School which involved two weeks of training in January followed by another exam. She was then selected for another one-week camp in April this year where she collected data for a field investigation and delivered a presentation on the geology of Darwin. The final hurdle was a final selection exam in May.

This year the host nation for the International Science Olympiads was Russia but international travel bans meant the competition was held online. The competition included teams from 80 countries and had five different sub-competitions including individual tests and group field investigations and Olivia participated in all of them.

There was an individual data mining exam, where you had four hours to find and analyse satellite imagery, seismographs and 3D scans of rock strata, to answer different questions on Earth Systems principles and their impact on society. There was a national team investigation, where the Australian team had several months to collect data on microplastic generation in playgrounds and analyse and present this data together. 

The final results for the Australian team and Olivia were outstanding.

Australia tied first for the national team investigation, and each member of the Australian team received either a ‘gold’ or ‘silver’ in the individual data mining competition. Olivia received a ‘silver’ in the data mining test, and much to her amusement tied in first place in two categories in the Earth Sciences Art competition.

Throughout the year Olivia has juggled the demands of a Year 12 study and assessment workload, using most of her school holidays to prepare for the training, but says it was all worth it in the end as it was such an amazing experience.

The most enjoyable part of the experience was sharing it with my fellow team members. That being said, I did learn some very amazing things about how you can relate Covid 19 to earthquakes, and how easy it is to access so much data from satellite imagery. I have met some amazing people from Nepal, Bangladesh, China, Indonesia and Thailand, who I worked on different projects with. I also really enjoyed meeting everyone on the Australian team, although it is very odd to spend over half a year learning and working with people you’ve never been in the same room with.

Congratulations Olivia, we are incredibly proud of you!

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