IF there was ever any doubt about the interest in science amongst our youth, India's spectacular performance at this year's should prove it wrong.
A team of five Indian students bagged four gold medals and a silver, ranking third amongst 76 countries and 350 students who participated at the 40th International Physics Olympiad (IPhO) held at Merida Yucatan, Mexico.
We got Shubham Tulsiani, one of the gold medallists (second rank-holder IIT-JEE 2009), and a first year student (BTech in Computer Science) at IIT Kanpur, to share his experiences.
Q How does it feel to have won the gold medal?
A. It feels great, I feel proud to have got the gold for India. On a personal level, it is pretty satisfying to know that even I do stand somewhere.
Q. Has physics been a subject that you always found interesting?
A. I developed interest in physics since 11th. What I find most interesting is how we can explain everything around us by building upon just a handful of concepts. Newton is my favourite physicist.
Q. How did the professors at the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education (TIFR) help you?
A. The professors at HBCSE literally guided us through everything. They developed our experimental skills into something great - from nothing (at least in my case).
And much of the preparation was done through what they taught. They also helped to put us in the right frame of mind before the Olympiad.
Q. You are also the second topper at IIT this year. What was the driving factor ?
A. I really did want to get admission to IIT because it is the best engineering colleges in our country. My teachers in Bansal Classes and school also encouraged me a lot. I was particularly inspired by my brother who has been a second rank holder in IIT-JEE.
Q. What were some of the interesting experiences that you had?
A. Flying down to Mexico was a new experience for me as I had never gone abroad. Also, we made friends with teams from Suriname, Georgia, Singapore and Pakistan.
Q. Competitions require a tough state of mind. What would be your advice to students who get psyched up before sitting for an exam?
A. To deal with pre-exam anxiety, always think of things other than your exam. For example, what would you do after the exams are over?
Also, listen to music. A student should be focused on giving it his or her best shot.
Q. What are your future plans?
A. It feels great to have reached where I dreamed of reaching a few years earlier but I still have a long way to go.
At IIT Kanpur, there are ample opportunities for whatever interests one wants to follow. I haven't chalked out my future yet, but I'll most probably go into research in Computer Science
Route to the international Olympiad
Stage I - National Standard Examination in Physics (NSEP) in November last week
No. of students: 40,000 across 900 centres
Exam: 2-hr objective exam that tests knowledge of senior secondary level physics
Eligibility: Studying in Class XII or lower
Results: Early January
Stage II - Indian National Physics Olympiad (INPhO) in late January
No. of students: 300 (selected from NSEP on the basis of merit)
Exam: 3-hour exam, at a higher level than above
Stage III - Orientation-cum-selection camp in Physics at HBCSE in April -June
35 students selected after the INPhO (on basis of merit) go through several theoretical and experimental tests. A merit list is then prepared with 60% weightage for theory and 40% weightage for experiments.
Stage IV - Pre-departure Training (PDT) camp at HBCSE in June
Attended by the final 5
Stage V - International Physics Olympiad in July
Comprises a 5-member student team, 2 teacher leaders and 1 scientific observer
Visit: http://olympiads.hbcse.tifr.res.in/ (subjects/physics)
More Topper Speaker Interviews:
'A scientist never grows up!'
Shubra aced the civil services exam