Rubbing shoulders with the best: Ranvir’s reward as he is named among top 50 young physicists

Rubbing shoulders with the best: Ranvir’s reward as he is named among top 50 young physicists

A Year 12 pupil took up a coveted place on a prestigious summer residential at Cambridge after securing a top-50 place in the Senior Physics Challenge.

Ranvir Sinha completed 586 questions up to the deadline in the online challenge run by Isaac Physics, a Department of Education project at the university. Many of the questions involved concepts usually introduced only at undergraduate level.

He joined other top-performing students at the four-day residential placement, where they were able to conduct experiments at the world-famous Cavendish Laboratory. The residential aims to give young people an idea of what it would be like to study quantum mechanics as an undergraduate.

Assistant Head (Pupil Destinations) James Kane said: “We are delighted for Ranvir – not only for his success in qualifying, but also for the opportunity he had to experience lectures which really engaged and stretched him.”

Ranvir, who won a Diamond Certificate for his élite performance, said: “I enjoyed tackling the challenges, especially the problems relating to moments of inertia, and learning the tricks that could be used to simplify them.”

Ranvir was fulsome in his praise of the residential, where he was taught by eminent lecturers such as Dr Lisa Jardine-Wright OBE (the director of Isaac Physics and a Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge), Dr Anton Machacek (a Fellow of Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge), Dr Nicki Humphry-Baker (a Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge), who sped the cohort through advanced concepts in Physics. “My favourite was the derivation of Schrödinger’s time-independent equation; it was immensely satisfying being able to prove such a fundamental part of the quantum world,” he said.

In addition to the lectures, the visiting students worked together on groups in the Cavendish Laboratory.

Ranvir was impressed with the facilities there: “It was equipped with brilliant apparatus! My group and I conducted tests for diffraction gratings, depending on the number and shape of slits that a laser would shine through – the lasers were so impressive, as were the vibrant patterns formed on our pieces of paper.”

The competition is run annually by Isaac Physics, an Open Platform for Active Learning. It aims to offer support and resources to students transitioning from GCSE to Sixth Form and through to university. Students work through the challenges at their own pace, but to a deadline.

The website states that usually the top-performing students complete in the region of 300-350 challenges in order to qualify, with weighting giving in the rankings on the higher-level challenges that they successfully complete.

Mr Kane said: “By completing well over 500 of the challenges, some at second-year undergraduate level, Ranvir demonstrated his commitment to the subject. He certainly deserved his reward – and I am glad that he enjoyed it, too.”