Israeli students score 5 medals in tough physics competition

Silver and bronze were the colors of Israel’s achievements in the International Physics Olympiad in Mumbai

(L to R) Tom Segal, Moran Shapira, Shaked Rosenstein, Ilan Mitnikov, and Nir Jacob Maron show off their medals July 12, 2015 (Courtesy)
(L to R) Tom Segal, Moran Shapira, Shaked Rosenstein, Ilan Mitnikov, and Nir Jacob Maron show off their medals July 12, 2015 (Courtesy)

Five teens representing Israel won five medals in this year’s International Physics Olympiad, which concluded Sunday in Mumbai, India.

The five, from high schools around the country, won three silver and two bronze medals in one of the toughest high school international science competitions anywhere, with participants answering questions and solving problems about kinematics, celestial mechanics, oscillators, Kirchhoff laws, Lorentz force, and other physics esoterica.

Overall, Team Israel ranked 19th out of the 82 countries that participated in the event. Of the top twenty countries by ranking (including overall score and number and type of medals won), all except three – the US (fourth place overall) and Germany (14th) were in Asia.

The delegation was led by Dr. Eli Raz, head of the Department of Physics and Optical Engineering Braude College in Karmiel and professor of physics at the Technion.

Israel participated in the Asian regional Olympiad on its way to the finals, winning two silver and four bronze medals in that contest, which was held in May. Israel came in eighth in a pack of 23 countries, which included Turkey, Iran, Jordan, and most of central and east Asia – an excellent achievement, said Raz, because, as the final results indicated, Asian countries are the world powerhouses in physics education.

The top team was China, which won five gold medals, followed by South Korea and Taiwan.

Among Israeli participants, Tom Segal of Modiin came in 78th among 283 participants for his theoretical and practical knowledge, with Nir Jacob Maron (Jerusalem) coming in 79th; both won silver medals. The were followed by 96th ranked silver medal-winner Shaked Rosenstein (Nir Haemek Youth Village), and bronze winners 105th-ranked Moran Shapira (Kibbutz Yifat) and 170th-ranked Ilan Mitnikov (Upper Nazareth).

Welcoming the students home Monday, Education Minister Naftali Bennett said that they were “a source of pride for all Israelis. You are the future hope of Israel in the sciences. Your excellence in scholarship, motivation to succeed, perseverance and determination are a role model for all students in Israel.”

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