Think or Sink
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Faculty Coordinator: Roseanne Sension
Preparation Team and Judges: Jiaxing Wu
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.
Teams: Each team shall have two members.
Quiz: Prior to the start of the competition each team will take a written 10-question multiple-choice quiz. Topics include buoyancy, density, pressure and surface tension. The time alloted for the quiz is 10 minutes.
Floating device assembly: Each event team will receive exactly one set of the above mentioned materials. The time allotted for assembly is 10 minutes.
- Performance test: Contestants will be given 10 minutes to test their boat using the water tank provided. They will add (dry) pennies and weights to their boat in arbitray quantities. The boat must float for at least 10 seconds before the last load increment is recorded by the judges a valid load increase. The load-carrying capacity is given by the mass it carried for at least 10 seconds before sinking. The latest time after commencement of the performance test at which any weight can be added to the boat is 9 minutes and 50 seconds.
The experimental part of the score is determined by weighing the mass that was carried for at least 10 seconds before sinking. In case the boat is still afloat 10 minutes after commencement of the testing procedure, the mass it carries at 10 minutes will be recored as load-carrying capacity. Note that no weight can be added to the boat after 9 minutes and 50 seconds.
- The theoretical part of the score is given by the number of correct answers in the quiz.
- The total score will be a weighted sum of the experimental and theoretical scores.
- Awards: Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals will be awarded to the teams with the best total scores.
Hints and Tips for Competitors:
- Test-mass increments: Competitors should strike a balance between the following aspects: (1) adding sufficienct mass at a time (in one load increment), so that the boat's carrying limit is reached before the testing time is over, and before the boat gets waterlogged. (2) adding mass increments that are small enough that the boat does not sink during the next 10 seconds.
- Strategy: Competitors may consider varying the mass increments throughout the testing procedure, so as to achieve the best possible score under the given time rules.
Olympiad Contact Information
University of Michigan, Physics Department, Randall Laboratory
Prof. Georg Raithel, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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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
Revised: April 2015.