Withington Girls’ School sixth formers, Sasha Geim and Eleanor Edwards, have been selected to represent the UK in this year’s International Science Olympiads after being ranked among the country’s top young scientists in their fields.Two students from Withington are celebrating places in the international finals of science Olympiad competitions this summer – Sasha Geim (left) will represent the UK in Chemistry and Eleanor Edwards (right) has secured her place on the UK Linguistics Olympiad team.
Following a rigorous selection process, which included written tests and academically-challenging residential training camps, Sasha was chosen for both the UK Chemistry Olympiad and British Physics Olympiad teams – though she has since had to withdraw from the Physics team as the two Olympiads take place at the same time – and Eleanor won her way through to the UK’s Linguistics Olympiad team.
The girls, both in year-13, will now go on to compete against some of the world’s most talented young science students. Sasha will be facing opposition from more than 80 other national teams in the International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO) 50th Anniversary final which is a dual-centre event taking place in Bratislava and Prague from 19th to 29th July, whilst Eleanor’s team will be battling against 40 other countries for International Linguistics Olympiad titles at the Prague final between 26th and 30th July.
Sasha and Eleanor now have a busy few months ahead as they not only prepare for their International Olympiad finals but also for their A-Levels. Sasha, who holds a conditional offer to study Natural Sciences at Pembroke College, Cambridge, is currently working towards her A-Levels in Physics, Chemistry, Maths and Further Maths and Eleanor is studying for A-Levels in Psychology, Biology and Latin, with a conditional offer to study Psychology and Linguistics (PPL), at Corpus Christi, Oxford.
Seventeen-year-old Sasha, who plays the clarinet in the school orchestra and holds a Grade 8 certificate in singing, said: “I’m absolutely delighted to have been selected to represent the UK and am very much looking forward to the challenge and the opportunity to meet young chemists from across the world. I am very grateful to Withington, particularly the Physics and Chemistry departments, for all their encouragement and support over my time at school.”
Eleanor (18), who enjoys folk dancing and is a member of the Barlow International Folk Dancing group, said: “I’m very nervous but also very excited for the final round of the Linguistics Olympiad – I really have nothing to lose! Linguistics has been a long-term interest of mine, so getting chosen for the UK team was a proud moment. Without Withington I would never have entered, so I’m glad the school offered me this opportunity!”
Congratulating Sasha and Eleanor on their achievements, Withington headmistress, Mrs Sarah Haslam, said: “Qualifying for an international Olympiad in any discipline is extremely challenging, and only the most able students are selected to represent our country. We are immensely proud of Sasha and Eleanor’s achievements, which confirm what truly exceptional and talented students they are. They deserve every success and we wish them well in their respective competitions over the summer.”
Sasha’s delegation for The International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO) consists of four students who had all made it through from an original field of 6,600 entries to the final selection, which was held at the University of Cambridge during the Easter holidays. The IChO programme is intended to encourage interest in the subject through independent and creative solving of chemistry problems and, during their ten-day trip, the students will be tested on their chemistry knowledge and skills with a five-hour laboratory practical and five-hour written theoretical examination.
The International Linguistics Olympiad (IOL) will see teams of young linguists from around the world testing their minds against the world’s toughest puzzles in language and linguistics. The UK qualifying round attracted 1650 entries and Eleanor and her team-mates were then chosen during a residential camp at the University of Reading in March – they will now need to use logical and problem solving abilities, outside-the-box thinking, patience and creativity to compete for titles which will be awarded for both individual and team efforts.