Leicester student races to the top in national physics competition

13-year-old takes first place with ‘Formula 1’ board game

A student from Leicester has been announced as the winner of The Eurekas, a national competition from the Institute of Physics. Anika Dharamshi, 13, has scooped £1,000 for herself and £250 for her school, Avanti Fields School in Furrow View, Leicester.

Now in its second year, The Eurekas 2023saw hundreds of young people aged 11-16 across the UK and Ireland take up the challenge to answer the question: how does physics power your passion?

Anika’s winning entry, a ‘Formula 1’ board game, impressed the expert judges* by showcasing the laws of physics on a racetrack, scoring top marks for originality and creativity, quality, relevance and spirit. The judging panel included author and science teacher Alom Shaha, journalist, broadcaster and physicist Shivani Dave and founder of The Eurekas, Ray Mitchell.

The second annual Eurekas saw over 250 students submit over 200 entries, more than double the number submitted in the first year of the competition. In 2022, a group of four Avanti Fields School students won the top prize for baking a cake in the shape of a cochlear implant.

Rakhi Patel, Key Stage Lead Science, Careers Lead and ECT Mentor at Avanti Fields School said:

“What amazing news! We can’t believe Anika has won the top prize; the second time Avanti Fields School students have secured the £1000 prize in this national competition. We are so proud of her passion and use of science knowledge in her entry. It is great to see her flair for physics develop under our strong curriculum, which aims to develop our students’ sense of awe and wonder at the world around them and explore the way everything connects. Congratulations Anika and thank you to our science department for continuing to support our students with these super curricular opportunities.”

Anika Dharamshi, the competition winner said:

“Formula 1, a racing show that 100% defies the laws of the road, however 100% obeys the laws of physics. Physics has always intrigued me, from learning about equations to learning about the universe. Winning this competition has convinced me that anything is possible if you dedicate time and hard work. Remember to always think like a scientist and then think like a dreamer. This competition has inspired me to look into careers that involve game designing, engineering and architecture.”

Science teacher and author Alom Shaha, said:

“Being new to the judging panel this year, I didn’t know what to expect – and I was blown away by the standard of the entries. Across the board, the young people showed innovation and creativity, with the submissions giving us a fascinating insight into what they care about and how they are able to delve into the physics behind those things. It was incredibly hard to choose the winners and I’d like to congratulate everyone who took part.”

Journalist broadcaster and physicist Shivani Dave, said: “The quality of entries was incredibly high again this year. It was wonderful to see so many young people thinking about the things they’re passionate about through a physics lens, and letting their creativity flow. I believe if we can just harness some of this talent, the next generation of physicists will achieve groundbreaking things. I was honoured to be a judge for the second year running and everyone should be very proud of their work.” 

Founder of the Eurekas and Head of Campaign Strategy at the Institute of Physics, Ray Mitchell said: “Once again we were highly impressed by the quality of entries submitted for The Eurekas. It has been fascinating to see the many ways young people have been able to show us how physics powers their passions. Now in its second year, the competition is going from strength to strength and is clearly demonstrating the talent and physics potential among young people across the UK and Ireland. I hope we may have inspired many to see physics differently.”

Whether arty, sporty, musical or into literature, languages or sciences, the judges were looking for submissions from students with a range of interests – not just those already interested in physics. The Eurekas is an initiative by Limit Less – an Institute of Physics campaign designed to broaden and diversify the range of young people going on to study physics after the age of 16 by getting students to see physics differently.

Two runners-up were also chosen, each winning £500. And this year for the first time, £250 has also been awarded to an outstanding entry from someone at every age*.

With nearly 9,000 physics-related job vacancies in the UK ***,  there are significant skills gaps at all levels. Women are particularly underrepresented in the physics community – but their talent, insights and perspectives are badly needed if society is to solve the challenges facing healthcare, the environment and the economy.