MHS Club wins Physics Olympics

MHS Club wins Physics Olympics
Posted on 03/16/2021
The Montclair High School Physics Club has been working every Friday for weeks preparing for New Jersey’s Physics Olympics, sponsored by the New Jersey Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers. This year the Physics Olympics, held annually for more than 30 years, was held virtually and took place over two weekends, February  27 and March 13. Out of a possible 300 points, Montclair scored 290.6. The second place team scored 238.1 and the third place team scored 229.9.

As a result of this win, the High School gets to display the Physics Olympics Bowl trophy for a year in its trophy case. Montclair’s name and year will be inscribed on the Bowl. All members of the team were required to take an active role in the competition, and some members participated in all three events: the Fermi Question Event in which the team had 30 minutes to answer five questions and design and build a Tower of Cards and a Slow Descent Roller Coaster.

For the Fermi questions, the students competed against each other on the Fermi Questions in small teams for practice runs.  In this event the top team scored 96 points.  MHS came in with 94 points. In the Tower of Cards, the towers had to be built on video in less than 20 minutes.  MHS’s top tower builder was Ava Ianule. She represented the club at the meet, although all Top 3 competitors contributed videos. The combination of three strong competitors got the club to a very close second, scoring 96 out of 100 possible points.

physics roller coaster

In the Roller Coaster event, the team was required to design and build a roller coaster made from toothpicks and white glue (see image above). The roller coaster was to be designed so that a marble would descend in the greatest amount of time. Each team was required to design and build three coasters. During the virtual competition, the judge(s) then measured the descent time of the marble of the team’s coaster.

“This was a real team effort on our part,” said teacher Daniel Kaplan. “Since we were virtual, each member of our team built individual ramps and individual structural pieces. The ramps and supports were dropped off at one member's home (Tobia Ruth) who assembled the parts into the final structure. At our club meetings each member showed the various pieces that they had built and talked about what innovations they made to make the ramp more reliable and slower.” He continued, “This past week we were down to the wire and we met on Zoom each day at lunch to share information about everyone's progress. The students are justly proud and I am very proud of them!”
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