10 reasons to engage in IYPT

Picture taken after the Final PF in IYPT Brasil 2012 with all the partcipants in the selection of the 5 Brazilian team members for the 25th IYPT.

Obs.: essas mesmas razões podem ser achadas em português em “Why participate?“.

Hello! I’ve been recently receiving messages from prospective participants of IYPT Brasil 2013 and I’ve seen a lot of new people accessing this blog or liking the official page of the national competition. So, as the website Olimpíadas Científicas (Scientific Olympiads) wrote about the ten reasons why one should participate on Olympiads, I’ve decided to write why IYPT can be the most incredible and complete experience of one’s life. The reasons of the Olympiads are applicable to IYPT, but there are some particular points that makes IYPT different from the other competitions, that can give invaluable experience for your future academic and professional career. So… there we go.

  1. Getting knowledge in Physics and Mathematics at university level. In order to develop your solutions, you should conduct your independent studies in advanced topics on Physics, as fluid mechanics (as we really saw by 2012’s problems) or parts of electromagnetism one does not learn in high school, and Mathematics, as advanced calculus for the development of your own theoretical model. You also learn how to deal with computer programming, error and data analysis, simulations etc.
  2. Pre-university research and even paper publications! IYPT problems are open-ended. That means that they have no right or wrong solution and are usually based on the investigation of phenomena that haven’t been explored (or that have not been widely investigated). So, one must learn how to deal with articles, conduct own research, develop new theoretical and mathematical models as well as have the creativity to create experiments that evidence the proposed model. Sometimes, your research may take you months, but can even render a paper and be published in internationally recognized or IYPT publications.
  3. You get to know a lot of nice people :). While participating in the nationals, when you get to the final stage, in the ceremonies, in the breaks between Physics Fights or even in the official hotel, you get to know people from every corner of the country, from about 20 different groups and 10 different states who share some of the same passions you do and want to pursue similar careers. In the international phase, you also get to know a bunch of people, from almost 30 different countries with different cultural backgrouds with whom you can share ideas and common interests and experiences, ranging from physics to music, books, movies etc. Also, besides people from your age, you get in touch with teachers, professors and real researchers from a wide variety of fields and universities around the globe. These all may become great and lasting friendships.
  4. Team work and leadership. If you are the kind of person that prefer to work on your own, IYPT is going to teach you how to work in a group, as this is a really relevant and encouraged feature for doing well in the competition. We live with people and dealing with them is important. You’re not always going to get everything alone, so the sooner you understand how to work with people around you, the better. You have to learn how to motivate your teammates, how to divide the tasks, how to help one another, so it is actually important to have leadership characteristics to be successful in IYPT.
  5. Public presentations. People are usually shy when it comes to presenting to an audience. IYPT is based on presentations and discussions about the proposed problems, so you’ll have to learn not just how to make great powerpoint slides, but also how to hold your anxiousness, posture, voice and entonation in front of many people and strangers, including experts on the subject you’re presenting.
  6. Defending your point of view. During the discussions, you’ll have to defend your point, give your opinion, present data, reference and arguments that support it. Hence, you’ll have to learn how to be convincing and consistent on your presented thoughts.
  7. English proficiency. The national phase is conducted in Portuguese, but the official language of the international stage is English. Then, you’ll have to develop a high level of English understanding in writing, speaking, reading and listening to make your research, your presentations and hold the discussions.
  8. Fast thinking. In the discussions, the jury, the opponent or the reviewer may come up with totally unexpected ideas or questions about the problems, with paramemeters you never thought of. Also, technical problems may appear. So, you must think fast to give the proper answers, solutions or even justification for missing points.
  9. You travel, get to know places and cultures :D. When you’re selected to represent your country, you get a whole week trip to another country without paying a cent, and you even can get some more days in the scale in another place, which can be really fun. You get to visit a lot of different known places and some amazing sites you never heard of. Also, you get to know the culture of other participants and of the host country itself, getting totally new cultural and abroad experience.
  10. It may shape your aspirations. Once you’re engaged in IYPT, that all may be so interesting and exciting, that, in the end of the day, you may want to pursue a career in the pure science, become a researcher, get involved with educational policy, study abroad or get involved with a diverse range of aspects involved and developed in an individual because of IYPT.

Warning: getting passionate about all of this is a common practice among IYPT participants :).

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