IPhO 2020: MIPT will organize International distributed Physics Olympiad


MIPT will be organizing the 2020 International distributed Physics Olympiad, according to a decree signed by Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin. This year the event will take place remotely Dec. 7-15. The olympiad is open to school students and first-year undergraduates.

The International Physics Olympiad is an annual contest for school students, which also promotes international cooperation in school physics education and serves as a platform for budding research collaborations. The students representing a country at IPhO train together as national teams, but the participant scores are assigned individually.

“It is a great honor for us to organize a major event of that caliber,” commented MIPT Vice Rector for Academic Affairs Artem Voronov. “According to the rules of the olympiad, school leavers can no longer participate once they are enrolled at a university. Requests from the students and their teachers prompted us to put forward a joint initiative with the Moscow Department of Science and Education, suggesting that the contest be held in a distributed mode. The initiative got the support of the IPhO president and our foreign colleagues. It has now been endorsed by the Russian government as well.”

“This year’s IdPhO [“d” for distributed] will feature IPhO-level problems, but the olympiad will take place locally in each participating country,” the vice rector went on. “That said, MIPT will be responsible for the overall preparation of the event, working out the remote participation guidelines, and providing contest problems. Naturally, remote participation does introduce certain complications as far as organizing the event goes, but this is not the first competition held by the University in that format. One example is the Phystech.International olympiad that we hold in a distributed mode under the auspices of Rossotrudnichestvo.”

“Every year without fail the International Physics Olympiad attracts the best high schoolers from around the world, who pass many stages of rigorous selection. What distinguishes these students is their aspiration to know and fulfill themselves in intellectual activity and research. There is a lot of exciting work coming our way!” Voronov added.

IPhO traditionally features a theoretical and an experimental stage, each lasting five hours and held on a separate day. The countries hosting the contest will receive the equipment required for running the experiment. The olympiad will employ video registration, and the organizing committee will have its representatives monitoring rule compliance.

Distributed across 13 time zones, the competition will begin at 3-4 p.m. in the easternmost countries and at 8-9 a.m. for the westernmost nations; all times local. This means the last country to enter one of the two contest stages will do so before the first team completes that stage.

The language of the event is English, but the organizing committee plans to commission problem translations into many languages.

The International distributed Physics Olympiad is supported by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education and the Ministry of Education of Russia, as well as the Moscow government.