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North Shore well represented at youth physics competition

A good many young Einstein’s walk among us here on the North Shore.

A good many young Einstein’s walk among us here on the North Shore.

Several secondary schools from North and West Vancouver competed in last Saturday’s 39th annual UBC Physics Olympics, an event that featured more than 400 high school students and teachers from 70 schools across the province.

North Vancouver was represented by Argyle, Carson Graham and Handsworth secondary schools, and from West Vancouver, Collingwood, Sentinel, Mulgrave, Rockridge and West Vancouver Secondary School all made their way to the March 4 competition.

The Physics Olympics features a number of contests that sees bright young scientific minds from across B.C. squaring-off, such as in a laboratory-based event where students were tested on their understanding of electromagnetism principles using coils of wire, magnets, and an oscilloscope.

Another contest was a coin sorter event where students were asked to build a device, driven by gravity, that will sort Canadian coins, U.S. coins and wooden disks.

Some results:

  • West Vancouver secondary came first overall for the entire Physics Olympics after capturing the top spot in a number of events, including the coin sorter contest, a lab event involving Faraday’s Law of Induction, and an estimation contest based on the principles of 20th century physicist Enrico Fermi, who was famous for being able to estimate anything to within a factor of 10.
  • Argyle secondary came in first place in a quiz contest, where participants answered challenging physics and astronomy questions.
  • Mulgrave and Sentinel secondary came in first and second place for the balance lab event, a contest involving balance and centre of mass.  

The Physics Olympics was developed by both UBC’s physics and astronomy and curriculum and pedagogy departments.

Prof. Marina Milner-Bolotin of the curriculum and pedagogy department said UBC’s Physics Olympics has an important, clear goal.

“Our main goal is to help students see how physics is exciting, relevant and most importantly an intellectually enjoyable pursuit, where people collaborate to figure things out,” she said.