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NZYPT 2021 Competition

The NZYPT competition is split into two parts this year.

  1. The New Zealand school based competition for school teams of three students and
  2. The International New Zealand representative selection process for individuals.

There are three regional tournaments in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington (Sat 29th May 2021) for the teams competition as well as an Online National final Sat 12th June 2021) .

There is no requirement for individual students trying out for NZ representation to compete in the school teams tournament. Individual students from anywhere in the country can compete to be in the NZ team squad. A 12 minute video of a solution to one of the 7 NZYPT 2021 problems must be submitted by individual students from a school by Friday 26th March 2021 from consideration in the New Zealand team.

Use the 2021 Registration details tab above to find out more information about each competition including dates and fees.

NZYPT in 2020

NZYPT successfully held regional tournaments in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington on Saturday 7th March 2020. The National tournament planned for Saturday 21st March at ACG Parnell in Auckland had to be cancelled due to the covid-19 outbreak so there was no National Schools champion this year.

The top students from each region were able to audition for selection as New Zealand IYPT representatives via “Zoom” after each student carried out and additional IYPT problem investigation. This they did at home using basic apparatus and good old kiwi ingenuity!

The team of five highly talented physicists selected as New Zealand IYPT reps were :

1. Heather Harper – Onslow College,   2. Nathan Chen – Auckland Grammar School 3. Christine Li – Cristin School,   4. Hanbo Xie – Kings Coll. 5. Xavier Yin – St Kentigern Coll

The Covid-19 pandemic saw the cancellation of IYPT 2020 in Romania. With no international IYPT event possible the local organisers of NZYPT devised a new Online IYPT NZ event. The NZ team all gathered in Auckland and had a 3 day training camp held at Auckland Grammar School before the start of the event.

The tournament saw 7 international teams (Austria, Croatia, Georgia, Greece, NZ, Singapore and Thailand) compete in the event. (9 teams were signed up with 2 days to go before the event but covid-19 lockdown regulations in Romania and Iran meant the teams could not compete!).

When the final scores were tallied after 5 rounds the reigning IYPT world champions Singapore ended up winners (189.8 points), Austria were in 2nd place (176.4 points) closely followed by New Zealand in 3rd place (175.6 points). Of special mention was the fact that the New Zealand team managed to beat Singapore in their head to head fight during the tournament.

With IYPT 2021 looking uncertain our IYPT NZ online tournament is one we plan to organise again.

2019 News

International Young Physicists’ Tournament  2019 report

The New Zealand team at the International Young Physicists’ Tournament performed admirably in IYPT 2019 (the 32nd IYPT) held in Warsaw, Poland in July.

The NZ team of five students was comprised from Auckland Grammar School (Shunxing Daniel Shi), ACG Parnell (Sidhaarth Kumar), Manurewa High School (John Chen), Onslow College (Yan Amy Cui) and Wellington High School (Sophie Mance – Team Captain). These students had been selected from over a hundred students who had competed in the regional and national NZYPT competition.

All five students had worked in their respective schools, with university backup where possible, to gain comprehensive solutions to the seventeen open ended problems set in the tournament. This involved formulating and testing hypotheses, designing and making apparatus, experimental verification of findings through links with theory. All of their findings are then distilled into t a twelve minute PowerPoint presentation which they present then defend in a structured debate against an opponent from another country.

The team were supported throughout the tournament and in intensive training camps held in term two by team leaders from Auckland Grammar School (Gavin Jennings), Manurewa High School (Fenella Colyer), Onslow College (Kent Hogan), Riccarton College (Sue Napier) and Wellington High School (Kerry Parker). In addition to mentoring the team Gavin, Kent, Sue and Kerry were recognised for their international judging experience by being selected to chair judging panels throughout the tournament.

IYPT consists of five rounds of debates with a world final for the top three placed teams (or four if scores allow). The NZ team scored consistently well throughout the five rounds of the competition. After rounds one and two of the competition they were in 9th place. They improved to 7th place in rounds three and four before slipping to 8th place at the end of round five. This was a very pleasing performance for the team. By ending up as one of the top 10 scoring countries meant the NZ team were awarded silver medals.

Of the 36 countries took part in the tournament in 2019 the top 10 places were:

  1. Singapore             2. Germany             3.  Switzerland              4.  China             5.  Korea               6. Brazil          7.  Ukraine         8. New Zealand         9. Sweden          10.  Canada

For information :   the  USA was 21st ,  Australia 22nd and the UK  was in 26th place.

Once again the New Zealand IYPT team have represented their country with pride and returned with medals showing their depth of understanding and creativity towards Physics.

2018 News

*****  Massey University   “NZYPT – Physics research day”  *****

Massey University (Albany Campus) is holding a one off

 ***** “NZYPT get you started with your research day”  ***** on Monday 3rd December 2018.

The taster day will introduce some of the problems for NZYPT 2019.

For all students thinking about entering the NZYPT competition in 2019 this is a chance to:

– get some hands on time with apparatus

– see the effects for yourself

– get a feel for what you are going to research

– talk to lecturers and fellow students about the competition

***** It is a great way to get your research underway ready for participation in NZYPT in 2019.

Places are strictly limited to 48 so contact Patrick Bowman at

P.O.Bowman@massey.ac.nz   to apply for this event.

New Zealand Young Physicists’ Tournament

& International Young Physicists’ Tournament

2018 News

2018 was another successful year for school based physics research in New Zealand. The NZYPT competition attracted some new schools to the competition and the new format of the National Final saw several new schools competing at the top national level.

The regional tournaments for NZYPT were held on Saturday 10th March 2018.

There were 23 teams entered in the Auckland region, 9 teams in Wellington, and 6 teams in Christchurch.

Regional tournament Venues:

Auckland venue: Westlake Girls High School, North Shore.

Christchurch venue: The University of Canterbury.

Wellington venue: Victoria University of Wellington.

The new format of the national final had the top two teams from each region, plus three more teams chosen to represent the regions proportionally (this year three more teams from the Auckland region) competing in the National final of NZYPT at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch on Saturday 24th March 2018.

The results of the national Final were:

1st: Wellington High School,

2nd: Onslow College,

3rd: ACG Parnell College 1.

All the teams who competed

The other teams that competed at the Final were ACG Parnell College 2, Auckland Grammar School, Kristin School, St. Cuthbert’s College, Riccarton High School, and Burnside High School.

The IYPT team selection process was similar to previous years with student nominations from the NZYPT National final and the regional competitions. A squad of 8 students was initially chosen and a final NZ team of 5 students from this squad were selected for IYPT.

The 31st IYPT was held in Beijing, China from July 19th to July 26th 2018. 32 countries competed.

The members of the New Zealand IYPT team in 2018 were:

Zuni Preece (Wellington High School), Ensai August (Wellington High Sch

ool), Luke Roeven (Wellington High School), Zoë Danger Mansell (Onslow College), and team captain Finnegan Clapcott Messerli (Onslow College).

Team leaders / mentors: *Kent Hogan (Onslow College), *Kerry Parker (Wellington High School), *Rachel Tutty (Rangi Ruru High School),

Gavin Jennings (Auckland Grammar School) and Susan Napier (Riccarton High School).

“*” Indicates Team leaders who attended IYPT in China with the NZ team.

As preparation for the team prior to departure, training camps were held in Wellington over Queens Birthday weekend and for the 3 days before leaving for IYPT. During the training camps the students all received feedback and suggestions for how to improve the standard of their solutions to the international level ready for the IYPT.

The team arrived in China on Sunday July 15th, and after a couple of days acclimatising, dealing with jet lag, and working on presentations for the tournament, were ready to compete.

Background: There are five rounds of Physics “fights” with 3 teams from different countries in each round of the tournament. Each fight is a structured debate on an open ended problem challenged by an opposing team. The top 3 scoring teams and the top team (if any) who is unbeaten in the 5 rounds of fights compete in the IYPT final.

Summary of the New Zealand team performance at IYPT 2018:


The New Zealand team

Fight 1 New Zealand, Singapore and Bulgaria

Result NZ 2nd in Fight, overall placing 22nd.

Total score for the round of 30.4 points. A rough round to start with being

opposed by 4 time defending champions and eventual IYPT 2018 winners Singapore.


Fight 2 New Zealand, China and India

Result NZ 2nd in Fight, overall placing 18th (up 4 places).

Total score for the round of 41.4 points, overall score 71.8.


Fight 3 New Zealand, Hungary and Austria

Result NZ 1st in Fight, overall placing 15th (up 3 places).

Total score for the round of 37.9 points, overall score 109.7.


Fight 4 New Zealand, Canada, Slovakia and Serbia

Result NZ 1st in Fight, overall placing 12th (up 3 places).

Total score for the round of 41.5 points, overall score 151.2.


Fight 5 New Zealand, Korea and Chinese Taipei

Result NZ 3rd in Fight, overall placing 11th (up 1 place).

Total score for the round of 39.8 points, overall score 191.0.

After the tough first round the team did well to make up places in every Fight for the rest of the tournament. The final placing of 11th saw the team safely within the bronze medal range.

FINAL WORLD results of  IYPT 2018 were:

1st Singapore,           2nd China,      3rd Germany,             4th Korea.

We would like to thank all of the supporters of the NZ Young Physicists’ team for their help again this year in making this another very successful year.

In particular thanks to :

The Royal Society of New Zealand, especially Debbie Woodall

SONZ             Electrix,          Warpspeed Computers       The MacDiarmid Institute

The hosts of the NZ tournaments, Westlake Girls High School, Victoria University of Wellington and The University of Canterbury

Victoria University of Wellington School of Chemical and Physical Sciences

The University of Auckland, The Institute of Physics  + many past IYPT participants/parents.

Further News of NZYPT students:

Congratulations to 2017 IYPT NZ team member Jonathan Chan (Auckland Grammar School) on winning the 2017 Prime Minister’s Future Scientist Prize.

2015 and 2016 IYPT NZ team member and 2016 Prime Minister’s Future Scientist Prize winner Catherine Pot has made it through the first round of selection for the new Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment internship at NASA.

2018 IYPT NZ team members achieved highly in the NIWA Wellington Region Science Fair:

Zuni Preece: VUW Faculty of Education Prize and Highly Commended

Luke Roeven: VUW Faculty of Education Prize, VUW School of Mathematics and Statistics Prize and Fourth in Class 5

Finnegan Messerli: Engineering NZ Prize, VUW Faculty of Science Innovation Prize and Third in Class 5

Ensai August: Kainic Medical Communications Prize and Second in Class 5

Luke Roeven and Finnegan Messerli are both being nominated for the 2018 Prime Minister’s Future Scientist Prize for their research this year.

The team with their medals

2018 Regional Competition

Congratulations to all teams who competed in the 2018 regional NZYPT competition. The top 3 teams in each region were:

1st = ACG Parnell College 1
2nd = ACG Parnell College 2
3rd = Auckland Grammar School 1

1st = Wellington High School A
2nd = Onslow
3rd = Wellington High School B

1st = Burnside High School
2nd = Riccarton High School B
3rd = Riccarton High School A

The NZ finals took place on Saturday 24th of March at the University of Canterbury with 9 teams competing. The top 2 schools from the Christchurch and Wellington regions, and the top 5 schools from the Auckland region. These schools were:

  • ACG Parnell College
  • Auckland Grammar School
  • St Cuthbert’s College
  • Kristin School
  • Wellington High School
  • Onslow College
  • Burnside High School
  • Riccarton High School


ACG Parnell 1 – 1st in Auckland

Wellington High School and Onslow College

Burnside High School – 1st in Christchurch

NZYPT Problems for 2018

1. Invent Yourself

Construct a simple seismograph that amplifies a local disturbance by mechanical, optical or electrical methods. Determine the typical response curve of your device and investigate the parameters of the damping constant. What is the maximum amplification that you can achieve?  Invent yourself

2. Heron’s Fountain

Construct a Heron’s fountain and explain how it works. Investigate how the relevant parameters affect the height of the water jet.

3. Azimuthal-Radial Pendulum

Fix one end of a horizontal elastic rod to a rigid stand. Support the other end of the rod with a taut string to avoid vertical deflection and suspend a bob from it on another string (see figure). In the resulting pendulum the radial oscillations (parallel to the rod) can spontaneously convert into azimuthal oscillations (perpendicular to the rod) and vice versa. Investigate the phenomenon.

4. Water Bottle

The current craze of water bottle flipping involves launching a partially filled plastic bottle into the air so that it performs a somersault before landing on a horizontal surface in a stable, upright position. Investigate the phenomenon and determine the parameters that will result in a successful flip.

 5. Weighing Time

It is commonly known that an hourglass changes its weight (as measured by a scale) while flowing. Investigate this phenomenon.

6. Drinking Straw

When a drinking straw is placed in a glass of carbonated drink, it can rise up, sometimes toppling over the edge of the glass. Investigate and explain the motion of the straw and determine the conditions under which the straw will topple.

7. Dancing Coin

Take a strongly cooled bottle and put a coin on its neck. Over time you will hear a noise and see movements of the coin. Explain this phenomenon and investigate how the relevant parameters affect the dance.

Download the problem list here: NZYPT Problem List 2018


IYPT 2017 Singapore

The New Zealand IYPT team achieved 5th place in the world and the top silver medal position.

IMG_6044 small

The New Zealand IYPT team in 2017 is comprised of Isobel Bremner (Onslow College), Eric Caufmann (Hamilton Boys High School), Jonathan Chan (Auckland Grammar School) , Finnegan Clapcott Messerli (Onslow College) and captain of the team Otis Rea (Wellington High School).
Team leader/ mentors : Gavin Jennings, Kent Hogan, Paul Gunn, Kerry Parker and Susan Napier.

The training camps in held for the team in Wellington and Auckland provided excellent preparation for them prior to departure for Singapore. The students in the team all managed to radically improve the standard of their solutions to the international level ready for the competition in Singapore. The team arrived in Singapore and were ready to take on the world.

The team and organisers would like to thank all of the supporters for their help again making this another very successful year.
In particular thanks to :
The Royal Society and Debbie Woodall, Auckland Grammar School, Onslow College, Wellington High Schoool, Riccarton High School, Hamilton Boys High School, Westlake Girls High School, The University of Auckland, The Institute of Physics, Electrix, Warpspeed computers, Victoria University of Wellington, The MacDiarmid Institute and The University of Canterbury along with many past IYPT participants and parents.

2017 New Zealand IYPT Finals

The NZ finals took place on Saturday 25th of March at the University of Canterbury. Congratulations to all participants and good luck to the 9 individuals who were chosen for the NZ selection squad. They will present their new problem on Saturday 8th of April with the aim of gaining a place on the New Zealand team which will compete in Singapore in July.

The placings for the NZ finals were as follows:

1st = Onslow College
2nd = Wellington High School
3rd = Auckland Grammar School
4th = ACG Parnell College
5th = Riccarton High School
6th = Rangi Ruru Girls School

1st Place - Onslow College

1st Place – Onslow College

2nd place - Wellington High School

2nd Place – Wellington High School

3rd Place - Auckland Grammar School

3rd Place – Auckland Grammar School

NZ Selection Squad

NZ Selection Squad

Prime Ministers Future Scientist Prize

Congratulations to former New Zealand IYPT representative Catherine Pot from Onslow College, Wellington who was awarded the 2016 Prime Minister’s Future Scientist Prize.

Catherine Pot, Rt Hon Bill English. WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - March 21: Prime Ministers Science Prizes March 21, 2017 Parliament in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Mark Tantrum / http://marktantrum.com)

Catherine Pot, Rt Hon Bill English. WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND – March 21: Prime Ministers Science Prizes March 21, 2017 Parliament in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Mark Tantrum / http://marktantrum.com)


NZ Problems 2017

The 7 problems for the NZYPT competition in 2017 are :

1. Invent Yourself
Construct a passive device that will provide safe landing for an uncooked hen’s egg when dropped onto a hard surface from a fixed height of 2.5 m. The device must fall together with the egg. What is the smallest size of the device you can achieve?

2. Balloon Airhorn
A simple airhorn can be constructed by stretching a balloon over the opening of a small container or cup with a tube through the other end (see Figure). Blowing through a small hole in the side of the container can produce a sound. Investigate how relevant parameters affect the sound.

3. Single Lens Telescope
A telescope can be built using a single lens, provided that a small aperture is used instead of an eyepiece. How do the parameters of the lens and the hole influence the image (e.g. magnification, sharpness and brightness)?

4. Fast Chain
A chain consisting of wooden blocks inclined relative to the vertical and connected by two threads (see Figure) is suspended vertically and then released. Compared to free fall, the chain falls faster when it is dropped onto a horizontal surface. Explain this phenomenon and investigate how the relevant parameters affect the motion.

5. Resonating Glass
A wine glass partially filled with liquid will resonate when exposed to the sound from a loudspeaker. Investigate how the phenomenon depends on various parameters.

6. Gee -Haw Whammy Diddle
A gee-haw whammy diddle is a mechanical toy consisting of a simple wooden stick and a second stick that is made up of a series of notches with a propeller at its end. When the wooden stick is pulled over the notches, the propeller starts to rotate. Explain this phenomenon and investigate the relevant parameters.

7. Vacuum Bazooka
A ‘vacuum bazooka’ can be built with a simple plastic pipe, a light projectile, and a vacuum cleaner. Build such a device and maximise the muzzle velocity.

Full Details Here

New Zealand Young Physicists win silver medals in IYPT 2016.

New Zealand Young Physicists’ Team 2016
Photo from our left to right are

Sang Wook Kim – Auckland Grammar School
Carlos Aguilera Cortes – Auckland Grammar School
Byung Hoon Cho – Auckland Grammar School
Jack Tregidga – Wellington High School
Catherine Pot – Onslow College

Report from the International Young Physicists’ Tournament (IYPT 2016) held in Yekaterinburg (Russia) from the 26th June to 5th July 2016.

IYPT (The World Cup of Physics) 2016 – saw students from 29 countries around the world gather to debate their solutions to the 17 open ended problems set for the tournament. The students had carried out both theoretical and practical research to explain the phenomena. The New Zealand students had all participated in the NZYPT regional tournaments (Auckland or Wellington or Christchurch) and the national NZYPT tournament (Auckland) before gaining selection to the initial NZ squad and the final international New Zealand team. They qualified through competition between the other members of the squad and attended two training camps held in Auckland in the weeks before the tournament in Russia.

The final New Zealand team was composed of the following five students :
Byung Hoon Cho (Captain) Auckland Grammar School
Carlos Aguilera Cortes Auckland Grammar School
Sang Wook Kim Auckland Grammar School
Catherine Pot Onslow College
Jack Tregidga Wellington High School

The student team was accompanied by Gavin Jennings (Auckland Grammar School), Kent Hogan (Onslow College) and Sue Napier (Riccarton High School) who were all team mentors, trainers and acted as international judges throughout the New Zealand and international tournaments.

The IYPT has five rounds of competition between teams drawn by ballot. The students compete against other countries in structured debates called Physics Fights. Each fight has three components. A reporter giving his/her solution to the problem. An opponent to check and clarify the physics as well as point out the strengths and weaknesses of the report. A reviewer to prioritise the report and opposition and point out any errors they observe.

The performance of each component is marked by international judges and scaled (x3 for the report, x2 for the opposition and x1 for the review) to obtain a total score for each team.

The first round fight saw the NZ team drawn against the toughest of opposition – Singapore – who were the tournament champions last year.
The scores for NZ’s first fight were : Singapore 43.6 (winner) vs NZ 38.0 vs Austria 33.3
This placed the NZ team in 6th place with 38.0 points at the end of round 1.
Fight 1 details:
Report : Sang Wook Kim reported his solution to Ultrahydrophobic water scoring 18.0 points
Oppose : Carlos Aguilera Cortes opposed Austria’s solution to Rolling on a disc and scored 12.75 points
Review : Sang Wook Kim reviewed Singapore’s solution to Hot water fountain scoring 7.25 points

The 2nd round scores for NZ’s fight were NZ 37.9 (winner) vs UK 35.1 vs Iran 28.8 vs Canada 23.7
This placed the NZ team in 7th place overall with 75.9 points at the end of round 2.
Fight 2 details:
Report : Byung Hoon Cho presented his solution to Paper vice and scored 18.0 points
Oppose : Jack Tregidga scored 13.0 points in opposition to Canada’s solution to Super ball.
Review : Catherine Pot scored 6.9 points reviewing the UK’s solution to Water waves.

The 3rd round scores for NZ’s fight were NZ 37.7 (winner) vs Australia 30.7 vs USA 23.4
The NZ team were placed 6th with 113.6 points at the end of round 3.
Fight 3 details:
Report : Byung Hoon Cho scored 18.3 points with is solution to Invent yourself – a Random number generator
Oppose : Carlos Aguilera Cortes scored 12.6 points vs Australia’s solution to Magnetic train
Review : Jack Tregidga scored points 6.80 vs the USA’s solution to Sensitive flame.

The 4th round scores for NZ’s fight were Korea 39.1 (winner) vs Ukraine 37.3 vs New Zealand 32.7
The NZ team were placed 7th overall with 146.3 points at the end of round 4.
Fight 4 details:
Report : Carlos Aguilera Cortes presented his solution to Frisbee vortices and scored 12.9 points
Oppose : Jack Tregidga opposed Korea’s solution to Contactless calliper and scored 12.6 points
Review : Carlos Aguilera Cortes scored 7.2 points vs Ukraine’s Rolling on a disc.

The final round was going to be a hard one to win since the Swiss team were in 3rd place and heading for the world finals of the event 
The 5th and final round saw the team gain their highest score of the tournament to finish up in 7th place out of the 29 countries on 184.4 points. This makes them silver medals winners !
The 5th round scores were : New Zealand 38.1 (winner) vs Switzerland 37.4 vs Georgia 25.2
Fight 5 details:
Report Catherine Pot presented her solution to the Van der Pauw Method scoring 18.3 points
Oppose Jack Tregidga opposed Switzerland’s Light Rings solution and scored 12.6 points
Review Sang Wook Kim reviewed Georgia’s solution to Ultrahydrophobic Water scoring 7.2 points.

The placing for the top 10 teams at the end of the tournament were:
1. Singapore 2. Germany 3. Switzerland 4. Chinese Taipei 5. Korea
6. Slovakia 7. New Zealand 8. China 9. Hungary 10. Ukraine

This is another great result for the New Zealand team in the 29 country international tournament.
UK 11th and Australia 17th were other notable results 

The success of the team would not have been possible without the efforts of Kent Hogan, Sue Napier, Kerry Parker (Wellington High School) and Gavin Jennings in mentoring and supporting the practical work of the students over the last six months.

Report by Gavin Jennings
Chairman of NZYPT.