2015 Physics Olympiad


Summary of Events

The Olympiad events are designed and run by the University of Michigan Society of Physics Students, the Society of Women in Physics (SWIP), Physics and Applied Physics graduate students, faculty and staff.

Physics Bowl: All Olympiad Teams are automatically registered for this event. Come ready to participate. A series of about 15 exciting physics demonstrations will be described by a UM Faculty member. A question about each demonstration will be posed for the teams to consider. Each team will then come to a consensus answer. Answers for each question will be provided by watching the demonstration happen. For details on this event click here.

Think or Sink: Teams of two students will design a floating device on-site, made from a single paper sheet and up to five paperclips. Upon completion, its ability to carry a load will be assessed by inserting the boat into water tank. To test the boat’s weight-carrying capacity, students will add pennies and weights to the boat until it sinks. A theory quiz will test knowledge on buoyancy, density, pressure and surface tension. For details on this event click here.

Katapult Range: Teams construct an adjustable-range catapult or trebuchet and bring the device to the competition. Using the device, groups of two contestants hurl water balloons through rings centered at heights of up to 7 feet above the ground, located at ranges of 20 to 60 feet from the launch area. Points are awarded for accuracy and distance, as described in the detailed rules, and on a theoretical quiz. For details on this event click here.

Pasta Bridge: Before coming to the Olympiad, teams of two or three students will construct a bridge that must span 18" out of pasta and glue. During the competition, weights will be added until the bridge reaches its breaking point or time runs out. The bridges will be judged by the ratio of the mass supported to the mass of the bridge itself: the team who achieves the highest ratio will win the event. A brief quiz will cover static equilibria and other physical concepts behind bridge building. This event is designed and run by the Society of Women in Physics. For details on this event click here.

Egg Catcher: Teams of two contestants build a hand-held device designed to catch an egg without breaking and bring it to the Olympiad. The bare egg will be dropped from a window four floors above the sidewalk. One of the two students constituting the egg-drop event team will stand on the sidewalk below the window andcatch the egg using the device. A quiz on mechanics topics (kinetic energy, velocity, momentum, elastic two-body collisions, energy and momentum conservation) will round off the event. For details on this event click here.

Small Higgs Boson: Teams of two contestants will launch air-cushioned pucks from opposite ends of a collision track and simulate particle collisions at the center. The colliding pucks will scatter into target areas with assigned score values. Points will also be awarded on a quiz that test basic mechanics (kinetic energy, velocity, momentum, elastic two-body collisions, energy and momentum conservation) For details on this event click here.

Laser Maze: Groups of two contestants guide a laser beam through an optical maze onto a bull's eye target. Three mirrors must be aligned such that the laser beam bounces off all mirrors and passes through circular apertures to be placed in specified areas along the beam path. The laser is turned off during most of the alignment procedure. Points are awarded on the number of experimental objectives met and on a theoretical quiz. For details on this event click here.

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.