An Oregon teenager who belongs to the U.S. Physics team has won an individual gold medal at the 49th International Physics Olympiad.
Gopal Goel, 13, a student at the Krishna Home School in Portland, scored a 9 in the experimental test and a 27 in the theory test for a total score of 36 at the contest in Lisbon, Portugal.
The U.S. team, led by Paul Stanley of Beloit College, JiaJia Dong of Bucknell University and Mark Eichenlaub of the University of Maryland, placed seventh in the overall medal count and sixth in the aggregate point count. Nearly 400 middle school and high school students from 86 countries participated in the nine-day competition.
Goel writes in his profile on the U.S. Physics Team website that his love for physics stemmed from his love for math. “Homeschooling gave me the opportunity to explore the areas of study I loved, at my own pace and with freedom,” he says. By early middle school he had completed most of the high school math curriculum, and as he struggled to find other interesting areas to explore, his dad introduced him “to the amazing world of physics.” His father further piqued his interest in the subject, Goel says, adding that they “started going through most of Halliday Resnick 2nd edition together,” which Goel says was his father’s favorite book as a student. “I can very safely say that this book provided me with solid conceptual understanding,” he says. “A careful and iterative reading of this book is what helped me very much.
Five students from India were among individual gold medal winners: Pawan Goyal, Lay Jain, Siddharth Tiwari, Bhaskar Gupta and Nishant Abhangi – who each won a gold at the Olympiad.
The overall winner was China’s Yang Tianhua, who achieved the top scores on both the experimental and the theoretical parts of the competition.
The 50th International Physics Olympiad is to be held July 7-15 in Tel Aviv, Israel. The annual competition in physics for secondary school students aims at promoting physics and the development of international contacts in physics education. It involves individual theoretical and experimental competitions in physics.