UNI Hosts Regional and State Physics Competitions

The Department of Physics hosted two competitions this semester. The first, the UNI/AEA 267 Regional Physics Competition took place on Wednesday, March 21, 2012, at the University of Northern Iowa McLeod Center. Registration began at 8 a.m. and the competition ended around noon with the announcement of winners and presentation of awards.

Approximately 283 high school students from 20 different high schools including Cedar Falls, Denver, Dike-New Hartford, Dunkerton, East Buchanan, Fredericksburg, Garwin, Gilbertville, Gladbrooke-Reinbeck, Greene, Grinnell, Independence, Jesup, Nashua-Plainfield, New Hartford, St. Ansgar, Sumner, Traer, Waterloo, and Waverly-Shell Rock participated in the regional event.

This regional competition featured six events, including self-propelled catapult, mouse trap car, bridge building, soda straw arm, challenge problem and material recovery facility (MRF sponsored by the Iowa Recycling Association) that gave students the opportunity to apply basic physics principles in designing and constructing devices or laboratory set-ups from everyday materials within required specifications to perform physical tasks or procedures. Students pictured above are competing in the bridge building challenge while students pictured below are competing in the self-propelled catapult challenge at the regional event.

The mouse trap car event had the most number of participating teams with 48, followed by the bridge building competition with 42 teams, the soda straw event with 34 teams, the self-propelled catapult event with 31 teams, the challenge problem event with 21 teams and the MRF event with 8 teams.

St. Ansgar High School placed first and Tripoli High School placed second in the overall school team competition, which included teams that had students who participated in at least five of the six events. The instructor for St. Ansgar was Devin Schwiesow; instructor for the Tripoli team was Paula Carlson. St. Ansgar High School also placed first in the self-propelled catapult and challenge problem events while Tripoli High School placed first in the mousetrap car event.

The top two school teams overall and the teams that placed first in the event categories go on to the state physics competition. The regional competition was coordinated by UNI Professor of Physics, Lawrence Escalada and Melissa Hesner (AEA 267).

The State Physics Competition, formally known as the Physics Olympics Competition, will be held on Wednesday, April 11, 2012, at the University of Northern Iowa McLeod Center in Cedar Falls. The overall school team score is the sum of the best five of the six event scores with the highest scoring school team being declared the Physics Event Grand Champion.