Students go bold for gold in prestigious physics contest

Olympian Louis Smith

TONBRIDGE School boys are celebrating Gold, Silver and Bronze awards in the First Round of the British Physics Olympiad (BPhO).

This national competition encourages the study of the subject and recognises excellence in young physicists.

Two Upper Sixth Formers, Kenneth Lee and Yury Balabin, claimed the highest ranking on offer, with a Top Gold placing, which places them among the top 7 per cent of students in the country who took part.

Those with Top Golds can go on to compete in Round 2, which is taking place at the end of this month.

Boys also gained seven Gold awards (placing them in the top 9 per cent of students taking part); three Silver awards, and five Bronze awards.

Chris Powell, Head of Physics, said: “This was an extremely challenging paper and so all students who gained awards should be very proud of their performance.”

The aim of the BPhO is to encourage the study of physics and to recognise excellence in young physicists through ten annual physics competitions.

These are designed to test understanding and problem solving skills and are open to able young physicists in school years 11-13 (GCSE to A2/IB/Highers or equivalent).

The BPhO includes a Junior Physics Challenge (online), an Intermediate Physics Challenge and an Experimental Projects students can enter.

Participation in a British Physics Olympiad is a challenge for able students which allows them to:

Have fun problem solving; experience the perseverance and determination required to solve harder problems; test their knowledge with stimulating questions; see the real-world problem-solving potential of physics; practise open-ended and unstructured questions, as seen at higher levels of study and gain a prestigious award for CVs and UCAS forms. In addition to this students can develop the skills required for admission to top universities; compare their attainment with students from all over the United Kingdom; qualify for additional training with the best students, and have the chance to represent Britain at the International Physics Olympiad.

The British Physics Olympiad competition has many sponsors including Cambridge and Oxford Universities as well as Rolls Royce. This year’s contests run until the end of May 2022.



In other Tonbridge School news… just before Christmas friends and volunteers of the educational establishment set up stalls as part of the school’s ‘Shop to Share’ operation.

Volunteers and families affiliated with Tonbridge School transformed the famous front grounds of the historic 16th century school into a seasonal fresh fruit and vegetable market as part of its food donation scheme.

With seasonal music, lighting and a festive atmosphere, the all-day market on Wednesday December 22, was held in order to support local disadvantaged families in preparation for the festive period.

Working in conjunction with food banks, charities, schools and social services, families were referred to the scheme and invited to pre-book to visit the market, which provided a little extra support to those wishing to obtain fresh produce ahead of the big day.

“For a £1 donation, guests were able to fill their bags with enough fresh produce for their families to help them enjoy a Christmas feast. More than a hundred local families attended, with more than 400 adults and children coming on site,” a spokesperson for the all-boys public school told the Times.

They continued saying that invited families were able to choose from a huge range of fruit and vegetables – and festive presents too.

“As adults shopped, children were encouraged to choose a gift for a parent from a fantastic array of toiletries, chocolates and games. Others chose to decorate a mug using ceramic pens as a seasonal gift, enthusiastically aided by the teenage children of several staff.

“Hundreds of gifts were wrapped and taken away for children to give to their parents on Christmas morning.”

The Tonbridge School spokesperson went on to say that all guests were also able to spend time in an outside café enjoying a hot drink and a mince pie: “A festive tombola offered Christmas goodies, including a large number of meat vouchers for Ian Chatfield Butchers of Tonbridge.”

In total more than 1,750kg of produce was distributed, including 150kg of potatoes, 140kg parsnips and 65kg of brussels sprouts, as well as onions, cabbages, cauliflowers, melons, satsumas, apples, bananas, grapes, lettuces, tomatoes, cucumbers, dates and walnuts.

Produce was funded by the Tonbridge School and sourced by Robert Smith from Pavilion Flowers on the High Street, who did a special run to the vegetable market and delivered everything to the School.

Robert said: “It is fantastic to team up with the School and help ensure local families have access to fresh produce … I am delighted to help.”

One young carer added: “Thanks to you, we will get a full Christmas lunch this year, including fresh vegetables and, because I won in the tombola, even a turkey.

“It is brilliant that it will be a proper Christmas this year. Thank you.”

Marie Wallace, Business Development Manager for Tonbridge School Events, who came up with the idea for the market, said: “It was an amazing event to be part of, and reaffirmed to me the meaning of Christmas spirit.”

Tonbridge School’s spokesperson added:

“We would like to thank Robert Smith at Pavilion Flowers, Ian Chatfield Butchers and more than 40 volunteer staff and families, who helped make the day such a festive success.”

Any leftover produce, as well as other food donations both from staff and the main school, was taken to food banks for distribution.



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