What is IPhO?

In recognition of the growing significance of physics in all fields of science and technology, and in the general education of young people, and with the aim of enhancing the development of international contacts in the field of school education in physics, an annual physics competition has been organized for secondary school students. The competition is called the International Physics Olympiad (IPhO) and is a competition between individuals.

Short history of the Olympiad

The success of the International Mathematics Olympiads (which are organised since 1959), and the positive experience gained from its organisation, greatly stimulated physicists involved in physics education to organise Physics olympiad. For the first time the International Physics Olympiad was held in Warsaw, Poland in 1967 with only 5 countries participating. Competition was organised by Prof. Czesław Ścisłowski. The Olympiad expanded during the years with peaking 92 participating delegations during IPhO 2018 in Portugal. During these years many changes in delegation’s size, number of theoretical and experimental problems and their difficulty have occured. Organisational and academical aspects of the Olympiad are now represented in Olympiad’s statutes and syllabus which can be changed only during International board meetings. 

Lithuania was invited to join IPhO in 1989 as guest team. Delegation of Lithuania participates in IPhO since 1992. Since then Lithuanian students won 2 gold, 13 silver, 38 bronze medals and 44 honorable mentions in the Olympiad.

Who can participate in the Olympiad?

Each participating country scan send a delegation, normally consisting of five students and two accompanying persons. 

The contestants shall be students of general or technical secondary schools i.e. schools which cannot be considered technical colleges. Students who have finished their school examinations in the year of the competition can be members of the team as long as they have not commenced their university studies. The age of the contestants should not exceed twenty years on June 30th of the year of the competition. 

The delegation leaders must be specialists in physics or physics teachers, capable of solving the problems of the competition competently. Each of them should be able to speak English.

What type of exams are presented?

Competition has two parts - theoretical and practical exams which each lasts for five hours and is planned with one day of rest between the examinations. Theoretical exam consists of three problems while experimental exam can be made from one or two problems from various fields of physics. Theoretical exam is worth 30 point while during the experimental exam maximum of points is 20. Problems usually require creative thinking and knowledge contained within the Syllabus of the Olympiad. Problems are translated by team leaders into languages required by contestants one day before before examinations.  

How many contestants are awarded?

  1. Gold Medals should be awarded to 8% of the contestants (rounded up the nearest integer).

  2. Gold or Silver Medals should be awarded to 25% of the contestants (rounded up the nearest integer).

  3. Gold, Silver or Bronze Medals should be awarded to 50% of the contestants (rounded up the nearest integer).

  4. An Olympic Medal or Honorable Mention should be awarded to 67% of the contestants (rounded up the nearest integer).

IPhO 2021 in Lithuania

Lithuania was given huge honor to organise the International Physics Olympiad in 2021. The Olympiad will be organised in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, on 17th–25th of July. We hope to welcome participants from more than 90 countries all around the globe with around 450 students and 300 leaders and observers. Approximately 220 Lithuanian physics, organizers and volunteers will do their best to welcome participants to this biggest celebration of physics. This Olympiad will be encouragement to learn physics not only for participant of the Olympiad, but also for Lithuanian students. It is planned that many different physics events will take place in Lithuania before IPhO.