I have participated in the 1st and the 2nd AYPT as well as in the 12th and 13th IYPT. Moreover I will participate in the 3rd AYPT and hopefully in the 14th IYPT. So I assume I have enough experience with this kind of tournament in order to build up my own opinion about it.
Perhaps you wonder why people such as me and my colleagues spend our afternoons in the labs to prepare the tournament. I know that many high school students do not like science, especially physics. So, what motivated me to do scientific work?
Quite truly, I have to say that I do not know. Since I can remember I have always been interested in science, because looking at the world and knowing why distinct things happen makes me feel good.
But to be honest, the preparations time before the 1st AYPT was not very easy. It was indeed exhausting. The major problem was that we did not know the structure of the tournament yet. So everything was a bit confusing, and we thought of giving up at the beginning.
But my opinion changed after the 12th IYPT. I found out which remarkable qualities the IYPT had. There are so many things which you can learn during an IYPT and many of them can be useful for your further life, for example the IYPT increases the ability of working in a team, which is of vital importance at the IYPT.
The Austrian team before a physics fight in Budapest in the front: Georg Hofferek, Stefan Fürdös; in the background: Daniel Imrich, Robert Nießl, Lukas Pilat (from left to right)
Concerning our team the procedure was as follows: one or two students (the ones who were most competent) were listening carefully to the report being presented. One was writing down the aspects given by the listeners on an overhead transparency for the opponent's speech, one had a dictionary, a science book, a calculator and a laptop ready to quickly translate things, proof calculations and formulas or look up unknown information if necessary.
The most important thing was that the team had to react spontaneously and quickly.
Our concept worked excellently: I was listening to the report and heard a word which I didn't recognise. So I could tell the guy with the dictionary to look it up. If I had had to look it up by myself I would probably have missed important aspects of the report. Instead I could tell the one who prepared the transparency to write it down immediately. So we made sure that we did not forget that fact later in our speech. While two people of the team were finishing the transparency for the speech I could question the reporter team.
This procedure should give you an idea of how you experience teamwork during an IYPT, how you learn to organise yourself within the team, to cooperate and to rely on each other.
Another positive aspect of the IYPT is that it is an international matter. You get in touch with people from all over the world, you get the opportunity to visit a foreign country which you probably would not have visited otherwise. You may learn things about a foreign culture, because as you can see from the rules of the IYPT the host country has to provide a cultural program for the participants as well. This rule was established because the founders of the IYPT wanted the IYPT to get people in touch with other cultures of the world. That is a remarkable quality. So the IYPT also transports the idea of globalisation and peaceful togetherness.
The river Danube. The photo has been taken during an organised trip to Visegrad during the 13th IYPT.
The city of Budapest. The photo has been taken during a sightseeing tour through Budapest.
In addition I have to admit that I liked participating in the IYPT, because I had the unique opportunity to represent my own country in an international competition, which made me very proud and self-confident.
Furthermore, the IYPT and the preparation for the IYPT is also good for your personal advances in education. You improve your competence in English and your rhetoric skills, your teamwork ability and of course your science knowledge. As far as science knowledge is concerned you learn even more than interesting facts. You learn how to do scientific research, experiments and theories as "real" scientists do.
This shows me (left) doing a report, Robert Nießl (right) helps me at the overhead projector.
Apart from the points mentioned above the IYPT is also great fun. When you first see the problems and do an experiment you do not know how an observed phenomenon can be explained, but when you establish a theory later on you will have a very good feeling.
Moreover, the IYPT is of special importance because it may attract people to keep on studying physics and/or working in this field. So it is ensured that scientific research goes on to the next generation, which is very essential. Science is relevant to the human race, and physics is "the" science. Without physics there would be no progress in the development of the human race.
The IYPT gets young interested people in touch with "real" scientific methods, which I consider more interesting than "normal" science education in school. So some former IYPT participants may one time win the Nobel prize for physics for an invention they did using methods they originally learned during an IYPT...
Austria has participated in the IYPT for 3 times so far: in 1998 in Donaueschingen (Germany), in 1999 the tournament was held in Vienna and in 2000 in Budapest (Hungary). The participation of Austria at the 14th IYPT in Espoo (Finland) is already ensured.
It is one of my personal interests that in the successive years enough interested students can be found to keep on the tradition of Austrian success in the IYPT. By saying success I refer to the two times the Austrian team was in the semi-final (1998, 2000) and the one Austria was in the final (1999).
I do hope that some interested students or teachers who have read through this Fachbereichsarbeit will be encouraged to participate in the AYPT/IYPT as well.
Compared to us you have one huge advantage: you know the rules of the competition, you have seen examples of reports and you will hopefully benefit from my personal comments.
I want to sum up the most important points for a successful IYPT-participation to help IYPT-beginners: