2015 Physics Olympiad


Think or Sink

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Faculty Coordinator: Roseanne Sension
Preparation Team and Judges: Jiaxing Wu


Event Description:

Teams of two students will design a floating device made from a single paper sheet and up to five paperclips (optional). The materials, shown in the picture, will be provided by the organizers. The paper boat will be constructed on-site. Upon completion, its ability to carry a load will be assessed by inserting the boat into a water tank filled with additive-free tap water. Students will add pennies and other calibrated weights to the boat until it sinks. The image shows the building materials provided. A theory quiz will test knowledge on buoyancy, density, pressure and surface tension.

Event Location and Time:

Randall Room 1412.
10:30AM - 11:50AM and 1:00PM - 2:50PM

Apparatus and Materials:

One sheet of letter-sized paper (area = 8.5 x 11 inches). The paper is multi-purpose copy paper (density 75gsm  = 75 grams per square meter).
Five regular-sized (#1) paper clips for optional use (Mass per paper clip = 0.37 gram).
One Crayola crayon stick.
Pennies and calibrated weights.

Prior to the competition:

Contestants will develop and optimize a design prior to the competition and practice rapid and flawless fabrication. Another important part is a well thought-through testing porocedure (see Hints and Tips). Contestants will also prepare for the theoretical quiz.

During the competition:

Contestants must construct their paper floating device with the materials provided. The pennies and weights will also be provided.

Event Rules:

Judging Criteria:

Hints and Tips for Competitors:

Olympiad Contact Information
University of Michigan, Physics Department, Randall Laboratory
Prof. Georg Raithel, email: graithel@umich.edu

The University of Michigan. All rights reserved.
THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN PHYSICS OLYMPIAD is a Service Mark registered in the State of Michigan.
The University of Michigan Physics Olympiad has no connection, association, or implied authorization by the USOC, the IOC, or the IPC.
Revised: April 2015.