S'pore students shine in global competitions despite pandemic

Singapore students continued to do well in international competitions despite the damper that the Covid-19 pandemic has put on such meets.

The competitions had been modified to allow countries to participate virtually, the Ministry of Education said last Wednesday.

For one, the International Biology Olympiad this year was cancelled and replaced with a special challenge edition that was conducted remotely.

The Singapore team garnered one gold medal and three silver medals at the challenge, which was held from Aug 11 to 12. Students had to perform a diverse range of complex tasks, such as reconstituting and drawing the shape of a structure based on photographs.

Singapore ranked fifth in a field of 47 countries/territories with 186 participants.

At the 52nd International Chemistry Olympiad on July 25, Singapore secured three gold medals and one silver medal. Students undertook theoretical tasks, including total synthesis of an organic compound isolated from the catnip plant. Singapore was placed joint third among 60 countries/territories with 231 participants.

More recently, at the 61st International Mathematical Olympiad from Sept 19 to 28, the Singapore team won four silver medals and two bronze medals. The students were tasked to solve six challenging problems, including one inspired by the current social distancing measures imposed around the world. Singapore ranked 16th among 105 countries/territories with 616 participants.

Meanwhile, at the 32nd International Olympiad in Informatics organised by the National University of Singapore from Sept 13 to 19, the Singapore team clinched three silver medals and one bronze medal.

As host, Singapore also fielded a second team, which clinched another silver medal and two more bronze medals. During the competition, students tackled computational problems that tested their ability to design and implement efficient algorithms and data structures. Based on the first team's results, the Republic placed joint 19th among 87 countries/territories and 343 participants.

The 33rd International Young Physicists' Tournament was cancelled due to the pandemic. However, the Singapore team was invited to participate in another competition, the New Zealand Young Physicists' Tournament, from July 10 to 12, where it emerged as first.

During the meet, students presented their research on problems related to everyday phenomenon.

Education Minister Lawrence Wong praised the winners in a Facebook post last week, adding: "I hope these achievements will inspire all our students to pursue their passions and strive for excellence in learning about what they love."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 19, 2020, with the headline 'S'pore students shine in global competitions despite pandemic'. Print Edition | Subscribe