Mr ALISTER HENSKENS (Ku-ring-gai) (16:24:09): I congratulate Abbotsleigh Year 11 student Rebecca Whittle, who last month won a gold medal at the annual International Earth Science Olympiad in Thailand. A Killara resident, Rebecca was in a team of four, which included three members from New South Wales and one from the Australian Capital Territory. Each team member was selected to compete against the very best earth science students from around the world. Rebecca first made a shortlist of 91 students, drawn from the more than 6,000 students representing more than 280 schools who took the qualifying exam. The shortlisted students attended a summer school at the Australian National University, where a 27-person Australian team was chosen for the categories offered in the UNESCO-sanctioned International Science and Mathematics Olympiads.
At the Olympiad Rebecca and her colleagues took more tests, but also took part in group projects and had the opportunity to go on excursions to learn more about their local environment. Rebecca earned her gold medal by placing in the top 10 per cent of the 150 or so competitors who took part. Each of her teammates won silver medals. Rebecca has an obvious passion for earth science, which she sees as a combination of physics, chemistry and biology that is closely linked with geology. I congratulate Rebecca on her win.