12:00am 22nd June 2011
Over 130 13 year old pupils, representing 33 schools from across Yorkshire and the North of England, are taking part in The 5th Physics Olympics held at St Peter’s School.
The event is designed to promote the fun and practical nature of Physics and is now attracting schools from further afield with several new schools attending including teams from as far afield as Bury, Newcastle, Nottingham and Hull.
The profile of Physics is improving thanks to the impact of TV presenter Professor Brian Cox, CBE, but the number of pupils taking science subjects at university is still declining.
"Every year I take a group of 6th Form pupils to a Physics Olympics in Liverpool and thought it would be a good idea to do this sort of thing for younger pupils’ said David Morris, Head of Physics at St Peter’s, who created the event, "So we are very pleased to see more and more schools coming every year and the idea seems to be catching on in other parts of the country as well."
Each school brings a team of 4 pupils who take part in a series of Physics related ‘games/exercises’.
Each team is named after a famous physicist such as Archimedes & Volta.
The ‘games’ are timed and competitive with each team amassing points across the day.
The ‘games’ involve a mixture of practical skills and physics and mathematical knowledge as well as team work.
For example the game called ‘Current Affairs’ arranges a set of Resistors in size order, ‘Eat my Dust’ involves making a Bloodhound Balloon Model car, ‘Food for Thought’ explores the stability of towers constructed from spaghetti and jelly babies, ‘Good Vibrations’ is a calibration exercise to find the mass of a toy duck and ‘Payload’ requires the teams to construct a boat to support the largest mass.
"The decline in pupils taking Science subjects at A level and at University is an issue for education and the UK, so making these subjects more exciting and relevant at a younger age is vitally important.’" says St Peter’s Head Master, Leo Winkley. "Events such as the St Peter’s Physics Olympics are designed to show the application of Physics and, hopefully, will be a day to remember for all those who taking part."
David Morris has attracted funding and sponsorship from the Institute of Physics and the Ogden Trust, but is also being supported by local sponsors and businesses, namely The Rotary Club of York Vikings, Taylor’s of Harrogate and for the first time this year, Nestle.
Pupils are Year 8 pupils- 12-13 year olds. Schools attending will be coming from York, Leeds, North Yorkshire as well as Bury, Newcastle, Nottingham and Hull.
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