Teenager claims gold for Australia at world science games

Students from Canberra, Hobart, Sydney, Melbourne and Bendigo achieve all-medal performance

Maxwell Etherington, a Year 11 student from Brindabella Christian College in Canberra, has won a gold medal at the International Earth Science Olympiad in the Republic of Korea, helping to secure one of Australia’s best performances at the UNESCO-sanctioned International Science Olympiads.

Maxwell’s gold medal is the first for Canberra in 18 years. He competed against more than 180 students from 43 countries to win gold, finishing in the top 10 per cent of Earth Science students in the world.

His medal is the third consecutive gold for Australia at the annual International Earth Science Olympiad, where Australian high school students have been achieving outstanding results since Australia first began competing in 2015.

Maxwell was part of a four-member team representing Australia at the international competition. The three other students won silver medals, putting them in the top 30 per cent of students competing.

The International Earth Science Olympiad involved four theory exams and four practical tests covering all aspects of Earth systems science and planetary astronomy. Topics included the geology of planetary bodies, the formation of rocks, rock and mineral identification, sea-level rise processes and the geochemistry of groundwater.

Students also teamed up with competitors from different countries in an International Team Field Investigation, where they analysed the paleoenvironment of a Cretaceous sedimentary rock sequence that contained dinosaur and other animal track trace fossils.

Students’ performance at the International Earth Science Olympiad completes a full medal tally for Australia at the 2019 International Science Olympiads. Thirteen other students who represented Australia this year at Olympiads in physics, biology and chemistry all returned home with a medal. It is only the fourth time in the past 10 years that every student representing Australia has achieved a medal.

“At a time when participation in advanced maths and science is in decline, this year’s medal haul is inspirational, and I hope it will encourage many other students to pursue science at a higher level,” says Ruth Carr, Executive Director of Australian Science Innovations, which runs the Australian Science Olympiads program.

The Australian students spent a year in exams and intensive training before competing on the international stage. They outperformed more than 6,000 other students from more than 321 schools in the qualifying exams, making a shortlist of 93 to attend two weeks of training at the Australian National University ahead of final team selection.

The Australian team results at the 2019 International Science Olympiads are as follows:

International Earth Science Olympiad

26 August–3 September, Daegu, Republic of Korea

Maxwell Etherington, Year 11, Brindabella Christian College, ACT, Gold

Anthony Manns, Year 12, Chatswood High School, NSW, Silver

Jordan Rogers, Year 12, Girton Grammar School, VIC, Silver

Imogen Viner, Year 11, Hobart College, TAS, Silver

International Chemistry Olympiad

21–30 July, Paris, France

Tom Harrison-Brown, Year 12, Sydney Grammar School, NSW, Bronze

Richard Huang, Year 11, James Ruse Agricultural High School, NSW, Silver

Joshua Lin, Year 12, Sydney Church of England Grammar School, NSW, Silver

William Liu, Year 12, Knox Grammar School, NSW, Bronze

International Biology Olympiad

14–21 July, Szeged, Hungary

Bahaar Bahaar (Gaia), Year 12, Melbourne Girls Grammar, VIC, Bronze

Elaine Cheung, Year 12, The Mac.Robertson Girls’ High School, VIC, Bronze

Helen Han, Year 12, James Ruse Agricultural High School, NSW, Silver

Felix Pemberton-Adams, Year 12, St Michael’s Grammar School, VIC, Silver

International Physics Olympiad

7–15 July, Tel-Aviv, Israel

Stephen Catsamas, Year 12, Marcellin College, VIC, Silver

Jessie Lum, Year 12, Pymble Ladies’ College, NSW, Bronze

William Sutherland, Year 12, Scotch College, VIC, Bronze

Simon Yung, Year 12, Narrabundah College, ACT, Bronze

Rosemary Zielinski, Year 12, Merici College, ACT, Bronze

/Public Release.