Celebrating the next generation of Wales top physicists

Yesterday, we welcomed over one hundred budding Seren Academy A-level physics learners to the Welsh capital to celebrate their achievements completing the British Physics Olympiad (BPhO) programme – a series of nation-wide physics challenges.

A charitable trust run by volunteer physics teachers and academics from across the country, the BPhO is designed to support UK learners with an interest in physics to develop their skills, as well as recognise excellence in young physicists.

Learners take part in a series of national challenges, putting their physics knowledge to the test, in order to be awarded a gold, silver or bronze certificate at the end of the programme.

Seren Academy learners who completed the programme received their awards at a dedicated event hosted at the prestigious Exchange Hotel in Cardiff Bay – the site of the historic former Cardiff Coal Exchange, where the world’s first million-pound cheque was signed.

The event was hosted by Georgina Campbell Flatter, a Haverfordwest-born research scientist who has worked for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for over a decade and led several innovative projects at the World Bank.

The BPhO competition attracts thousands of entrants every year and is open to learners in year 12 from schools and further education institutions across the UK. The programme gives learners the opportunity to develop their problem-solving skills by testing their knowledge of physics with stimulating, university-level questions. It also gives them an insight into university-style learning as well as an experience to strengthen their future applications. 

Farhad Ahmed, an 18 year-old Seren Academy learner from Coleg Cambria, was the only learner from Wales to achieve the gold award. Farhad, who is studying maths, further maths, chemistry and physics at AS level has hopes to pursue a career in physics and says the programme helped him to broaden his knowledge of the subject and prepare for studying it at university. He said: “I am very proud of myself for achieving the gold award. I thoroughly enjoyed the BPhO programme as it really challenged me. I had to work very hard during the competition which enhanced my understanding of physics and pushed me harder and further than my A-level studies in maths and physics. I found it an excellent experience – I know far more now than I did at the beginning!

“If you love physics, I would encourage you to take part in the scheme as it allows you to learn a lot more about physics and study various topics in greater depth. For someone who wants to go into physics in the future, it is also great for your CV!”

Also celebrating her achievement today was Tamzin Jones, 17, a Seren Academy learner at Treorchy Comprehensive School in the Rhondda who achieved a silver award. Tamzin is aiming at a career in astrophysics, and after finishing her studies, hoping to study at the University of Oxford or Birmingham.

Tamzin said: “The BPho questions are incredibly interesting and I enjoyed the way they really made you think. I was apply to apply my physics and mathematics studies in a different way. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to take part and push myself academically.”

More learner celebratingtheir achievements today are Ifan Vaughan-Evans, 17, a Seren Academy learner from Ysgol Dinas Brân in Llangollen, and Bishop of Llandaff Church of Wales High School learners, Suleyman Isak, 17, and Joshua Froom, 17, who all secured silver awards.   All three aspire to study at Oxbridge and feel their involvement in the programme will strengthen their applications.

Suleyman said: “I really appreciated the combination of multiple skills that were required to tackle the challenges. It made me face and solve problems that I haven’t done previously. It’s another opportunity the Seren programme has opened up for me and I’m really thankful to have been involved.”

For more information on the BPhO programme, visit: https://www.bpho.org.uk/

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