Student scientists fly Aussie flag at international Olympiad

A trio of Year 10 scientists with just the right chemistry have made the Australian International Junior Science Olympiad team. Sophie Lambert reports.

Three students in blazers. Three students in blazers.
Image: Emily Xiao, Elliot Sunderland and Qiyang Ning are representing Australia at the International Junior Science Olympiad.

Three NSW public school students – two from James Ruse Agricultural High School and one from Normanhurst Boys High School – have been chosen in the national team competing in the International Junior Science Olympiad in Thailand from December 1 to 10.

Elliot Sunderland from Normanhurst Boys High School joins Emily Xiao and Qiyang Ning from James Ruse in the Australian team, after the students achieved outstanding results in the Junior Science Olympiad exam held across Australia in June 2023.

James Ruse Agricultural High School principal Rachel Powell congratulated the students for their accomplishments in science.

“Being selected to represent Australia in an international Olympiad team is a most exceptional achievement,” Ms Powell said.

“On behalf of the school community, I wish the Australian Junior Science Olympiad team every success in the International Junior Science Olympiad in Thailand.”

Emily Xiao said she was inspired by scientist Rosalind Franklin for her perseverance, despite the challenges she faced as a woman in the 1940s and 50s, and for her discovery of the structure of DNA.

“Throughout high school, my teachers, family and friends helped foster my passion for learning more cool scientific facts, which allowed me to develop problem-solving skills that I hope I can one day apply in the real world to make a change,” Emily said.

"My tip is to never give up.”

Qiyang Ning said he enjoyed learning new concepts in science and was inspired by the theoretical physicist Richard Feynman.

"It's been an absolutely incredible experience, doing the exam, going to Spring School and meeting new people, and it was incredibly exciting being selected for the international Olympiad team,” Qiyang said.

Normanhurst Boys High School principal Frank Abas said Elliott's selection for the prestigious competition was a source of immense pride for his school community.

“Elliot’s extraordinary intellect and composed demeanour are qualities that truly set him apart,” Mr Abas said.

“His ability to approach scientific problems with a calm and analytical mind is inspiring to us all.”

Elliot Sunderland said he loved all disciplines of science but has spent the most time with chemistry.

"I love the types of things that chemistry is able to explain, and the fact that it kind of acts as a bridge between the other disciplines of science," Elliot said.

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