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Semiahmoo Secondary’s Eric Shao earns spot on Team Canada for physics Olympics

Eric Shao, an IB physics student at Semiahmoo Secondary, has earned a spot on the national physics team and will represent Canada at the International Physics Olympiad (IPhO) in Tokyo, Japan this July.

The Grade 12 student recently took part in a week-long physics camp at the University of British Columbia where he and 14 other students from across Canada came together to perform exercises, take in lectures and write exams. From that camp, five students, including Shao, were chosen to join Team Canada.

“The training camp was a wonderful experience, but the free time was just as valuable, if not more,” recalled Shao. “The most memorable experiences were the bonds me and the other camp members formed in the lounge, either discussing challenging problems and concepts, studying, or just playing board games.”

CIMG5310.jpgShao said he went into the camp excited to try his hand at some the challenges and exams, but without any expectation to make the team, as he was burned out from studying for his year-end exams. It was only when other attendees convinced him that they had a shot at a once-in-a-lifetime experience that he began putting his all into it.

“After that, I studied hard and so when I heard that I made the team I was ecstatic,” he said, emphasizing the rigorous selection process, which involved writing four five-hour long exams.

Now, with the school year coming to a close, Shao is looking ahead to his trip to Japan. While there aren’t any formal Team Canada training sessions prior to the IPhO, Shao and his teammates have committed to practicing some of the past exams together and brushing up on their knowledge of topics that may arise during competition.

“While IB physics has provided me with a broad foundation… I plan on practicing and learning mechanics and electromagnetism much more in-depth before we leave,” he said.

Once in Japan, Shao and his teammates will face a week-long competition, testing the brightest students from across the globe on knowledge, critical thinking, problem solving and hands-on skills in theoretical and experimental physics.

But it isn’t all work and no play for Shao. Following the competition, Shao and his family plan on touring Asia for a summer vacation. 

“I’m also just looking forward to the many talented people from across the world that I’ll get to meet and talk with in Tokyo!” he said.

To learn more about this year’s IPhO in Japan, click here.

*Update* Shao won a bronze medal at the 2023 Tokyo IPhO. Congratulations, Eric!

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